Home » Skipping the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

Skipping the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

Launch Bay Exterior with Stormtroopers

It’s been a good year for Star Wars fans visiting Disney World…

While the repercussions of Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise can be felt throughout the parks, nowhere is this effect more pronounced than in Hollywood Studios. The additions of the March of the First Order, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Jedi Temple Training breathed fresh life into the atmosphere of a park that was starting to wane in popularity. Star Tours is no longer a lonely monument to the Skywalker saga hidden away in the depths of the park. The Force is strong with Hollywood Studios as Disney prepares the way for Star Wars Land, due to arrive in 2019.

Though this lengthy wait may drive some fans to scream, “THAT’S NOT TRUE! THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”, diehard Star Wars loyalists don’t have to settle for a few repeat rides of Star Tours and call it a day. One of Disney’s best Star Wars tributes so far is easily one of its most overlooked: Star Wars Launch Bay.

Launch Bay Exterior with Stormtroopers

Image: Disney

It’s easy to dismiss this attraction as a quick character greet and time pass. For serious fans, Star Wars Launch Bay holds a treasure trove of galactic entertainments and Easter eggs. Indeed, for true fans, Star Wars Launch Bay might just be the most underrated attraction in all of Hollywood Studios. We found nine reasons for you to check it out on your next trip. Even if you’ve been before, you may have missed #7!

1. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…” – The Stormtroopers

Stormtroopers outside Star Wars Launch Bay

Before you even enter the Launch Bay (which you can find by turning right at the Chinese Theater/Great Movie Ride), fans already have a chance to gawk. Stormtroopers loyal to Kylo Ren frequent the courtyard leading to the Launch Bay. They make a regular business out of intimidating guests with declarations of First Order propaganda and even have been known to give the rare kid dressed as their malevolent overlord an escort through the park.

For would-be Jedi, Sith, Rebels, and Imperials, there are no words for how cool these Stormtrooper patrols are, particularly when they culminate in the March of the First Order. Seeing the First Order’s elite march by haranguing guests is enough to make a superfan spontaneously sputter, “TK421, why aren’t you at your post?!”.

2. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… – Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Footage

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away banner

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

The layout of Star Wars Launch Bay makes it easy to assume the attraction is nothing more than a short film and a series of character greets. While you can easily bypass the Launch Bay Theater at the attraction’s entrance, fans of the series may enjoy the ten minute behind-the-scenes film featuring exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of the Star Wars saga. It’s not only a great way to set the mood for the tour of Star Wars fandom to come—it’s a great way to get off your feet and out of the heat for a few minutes. Indeed, we have talked before about how Star Wars Launch Bay is one of the best destinations in the park for introverts and families needing to catch their breath.

3. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons…” – The Museum

Rey's Scavenger Gear and Speeder

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

The majority of the space inside Star Wars Launch Bay is made up of an immersive museum of Star Wars props, costumes, and artwork spanning the saga. Replica miniatures of ships like the Millennium Falcon, Slave One, and Tie Fighters are prominently displayed, as are full costumes (the exhibit of Rey’s scavenger gear and her custom speeder adapted from an old podracer is particularly cool). At this time, items from Rogue One are prominent, though this will probably change as we near the premiere of The Last Jedi in December.

Helmet Display in Launch Bay

The fun doesn’t end with movie props. If you are able to squeeze into the lines to meet Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, or BB-8, you can get a close look at the Launch Bay’s weapons and helmet collections. Along with recognizable props from the Star Wars films, these cases include replicas of equipment from both Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, the animated Star Wars universe. The Launch Bay is a rare place where you can see items like Asaaj Ventress’ curved sabers and Sabine Wren’s Mandalorian helmet on real display right next to Wedge Antilles’ X-Wing visor and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber.  

4. “I am fluent in over six million forms of communication…” – Brush up on your Aurebesh

Aurebesh Sign in Launch Bay

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

Fans looking for a fun way to pass the time can whittle away hours translating Aurebesh writing throughout the attraction. For those unfamiliar, Aurebesh is the alphabet used in the Star Wars universe. It has a few variations, but one can easily pull up a lexicon of the letters like this one with a web search.

Aurebesh Lexicon Card

Image: Sam Howzit, Flickr (license)

An uberfan who visited the Launch Bay with us kept a copy of the Aurebesh alphabet in his journal, which made translating the inscriptions throughout the attraction easier. Most are the sort of mundane labels you’d expect from the First Order or galactic shipping companies, but a few are quite extensive. This could prove a great way to keep kids entertained while mom and dad take a break. You could also take a picture of the inscriptions and translate them while waiting in long lines for attractions.

5. “I’d sooner kiss a wookie…” – Characters

Chewbacca greets kids

Image: Disney

I certainly don’t recommend kissing a wookie, but you can get your chance to meet one. The Launch Bay is the best place in Hollywood Studios to meet Star Wars Characters. At this time, the lineup includes Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8. Lines can get lengthy, but it’s well worth it for a chance to hug a wookie, serenade BB-8, or kneel before Zod—er, Ren. Guests who have a Disney Visa can also make reservations for an exclusive meet and greet with Kylo Ren. It blazes by pretty fast, but it’s a great way to skip the lines and meet the brooding dark Jedi.

6. “A wretched hive of scum and villainy…” – The Cantina

Jawa in Cantina

Image: Andrew Dupont, Flickr (license)

The Launch Bay’s replica of the Mos Eisley Cantina is a superfan’s dream space. Despite being fairly small, it contains all the details from that iconic hive of scum and villainy that you could hope for, including a Dejarik/holomonsters table, macabre sconces made of droid heads, and the familiar tunes of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes filling the air. Jawas frequent the cantina and are just as grubby, intrusive, and adorable as you ever dreamed. Opportunities for photos abound. If you’re feeling particularly clever, bring your own holomonsters for a picture with the Dejarik table!

7. “You’ll find I’m full of surprises…” – The Easter Egg motherlode

Easter Egg Pile in Launch Bay

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

Tucked in a corner on the way out of the cantina is one of Star Wars Launch Bay’s best kept secrets. It’s so well-kept that most guests would walk right by it without ever looking. At first glance, it appears to be a small closet full of junk behind a caged door.

In reality, it’s a Star Wars Easter Egg motherlode, a museum-within-a-museum.

The shelves inside the innocuous closet include props from every era of Star Wars history. Every piece of galactic garbage inside is an Easter Egg. Props on display include a thermal detonator, Anakin’s podracing goggles, a Jawa ion blaster, Luke’s holobinoculars, Boba Fett’s jetpack, Lando Calrissien’s helmet from Jabba’s Palace, and even the head of a G2 droid from Star Tours. These are just a few of the familiar items hidden here. Can you identify them all?

8. “We would be honored if you would join us…”

Star Wars Spectacular Fireworks

Image: Disney

At this time, the Launch Bay is also home to one of Hollywood Studios’ rare upcharge experiences: the “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party”. Guests who make reservations get access to a dessert buffet and drinks with a distinctive Star Wars theme inside the Launch Bay. Guests who participate also get special seating for “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” in the evening. While it’s debatable if the event is worth the hefty price ($69 for adults at this time), those who enjoy these sort of events and are also Star Wars fans could have a very fun time. Even if you don’t sign up for the dessert buffet, take a walk through the Launch Bay while it’s going on. The Rebel Alliance and Imperial Insignia candles they set up in the interior courtyard add a nice ambiance to the space.

9. “But I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” – The Launch Bay Cargo Shop

Stormtrooper and Boba Fett Replicas

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

You might think your Launch Bay journey has ended once you hit the exit doors. Think again.

The “Launch Bay Cargo” gift shop is a great foreshadow of Star Wars merchandising opportunities to come. Here, guests can pick up a wide range of unique Star Wars goodies in a shop that is usually far-less packed than Tatooine Traders. The souvenir choices are broader than at other locations in the park. Along with expected items like pins, t-shirts, and action figures, guests can purchase customized cell phone cases, Magic Bands made on the spot, Star Wars artwork, high-end prop replicas, and even movie-quality costumes. While Tatooine Traders is a somewhat more immersive space, if you want a truly unique Star Wars souvenir, don’t miss a chance to peruse Launch Bay Cargo.

What is your favorite thing about Star Wars Launch Bay? What Easter Eggs have you spotted there?