Finally! After six long nerdy months of waiting, the runDisney event I was most excited about had arrived: The Star Wars Wookiee Welcome Party! As a kick-off celebration to the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, the party took place Thursday, January 15th in Disneyland's Tomorrowland right after park closing.
After waiting about 45 in line, we were escorted into a closed Disneyland park, where we walked up Main Street U.S.A. and into Tomorrowland. We were a decent sized crowd of Star Wars fans in all sorts of outfits - from running clothes to winter clothes to costumes. As we entered Tomorrowland, the first characters we saw were R2-D2 and C-3PO! Immediately people rushed toward the Droid character queue, but a Cast Member urged us to continue forward where there other characters.
We passed the long line for the Droids, and headed straight towards Chewbacca. On the way we took note of the yummy food and desserts available to us for the next two hours.
To drink, there was an assortment of coffees, teas and juices:
The desserts were really fabulous! They were themed to the party and tasted as great as they looked.
The big hit of the party was the Wookiee Wookiee Sugar Cookie. SO cute! Almost too cute to eat...ALMOST!
The Darth Vader cupcakes were divine, and I may have had more than one. Because carb-loading.
The food stations were spread out across Tomorrowland, and as I walked around taking photos and trying to decide which characters I wanted to meet next - I ran into something really foreign: A bar. In Tomorrowland. Seriously. Being the great friend that I am, I ran back to my gals and told them we'd be hydrating for the 5K and Rebel Challenge with wine.
It wasn't quite the Mos Eisley Cantina, but close enough!
These mini-cheesecakes appeared when the Wookiee Cookies disappeared. We wondered if they perhaps came from Arendelle by way of Frozen Fun, but decided it didn't matter because they were delicious, and The Rebellion is totally OK with edible glitter.
As anyone who knows me knows - I happen to be in love with my very own Wookiee, but that didn't stop me from meeting the one and only Chewbacca. Even on the tips of my toes I couldn't get within range of his shoulder. He's the real deal. This was my most favorite moment from the event.
Next we waited in line to meet Mickey Luke Skywalker and Minnie Princess Leia. Unfortunately, they had to leave the Galaxy for a moment, but thankfully they were replaced by Darth Goofy and Storm Trooper Donald.
Throughout the night Jawas chased after us looking for trades. Be warned: they have a thing for Alex & Ani bangles! They wanted all of mine.
What's a party without a DJ and dancing? The Tomorrowland Terrace Stage was home to a DJ and dancing Ewoks that happened to look just like Chip and Dale.
I know I always say this, but it's true: the people I have met since I started running are so special to me. They make me smile and I look forward to seeing them on all of my adventures. Christine and I ran into Didi while waiting in line at the entrance of the party, and we hung out all night - which was tons of fun! Towards the end of the night we ran into Marc, another runDisney fan and runner friend, someone whose smile is so infectious you just can't resist him!
The final character queue of the night for us was the Droid queue we had bypassed at the very beginning. Every so often, R2-D2 and C-3PO would be whisked away and Luke and Leia would take their place. We were the final people in line and didn't know who we would get to meet, but we were happy either way.
Ultimately, we got very lucky and at the very end were able to take photos with both sets of characters.
With all of the character photos done and still time on our hands before the end of the party, we headed to Space Mountain.
Although the wait time was posted as 5 minutes, it was really "as fast as you can walk" since we were pretty much shutting it down.
There's a first time for everything, and that was most certainly the first time I'd ever been on Space Mountain after a couple of glasses of bubbly. The three of us agreed it was even more fun.
The Wookiee Welcome Party was a huge success and I am really happy I registered. The private, after-hours party experience at Disneyland was something I had never experienced, and being able to meet the characters prior to the races was awesome. It just means I can keep running and stay on-pace, rather than lose time in ALL the lines. Definitely worth every penny and I highly recommend it should runDisney offer it again.
My suggestions for improvement:
- Have Disney photographers on hand and provide everyone with a PhotoPass included in the ticket price. This way the photos you waited in line for look perfect every time. It was a bit too dark to get great photos from iPhones.
- Keep the crowd limited to exactly this size. It was just enough. Any more people and meeting characters / walking around a dark Tomorrowland will be difficult.
- Add another 15 - 30 minutes to the event for character lines.
As we walked out of the park I looked up and down an empty Main Street U.S.A. and stopped to look back at the castle. All of this, every bit of it, is what it is today because of one man's dream. And a mouse. Thank you, Walt!