40 years ago today, moviegoers took their first trip to a galaxy far, far away with the debut of George Lucus’ “Star Wars.” Now known as “Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope,” its massive success changed the entertainment landscape forever, and Disney is no exception. Even before their purchase of Lucusfilm In 2012, characters and settings from the iconic space opera were making their way into Disney’s theme parks as early as 1987. One of the most unique combinations of these two entertainment giants took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of the now-discontinued “Star Wars Weekends” event.
First held in 1997 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Star Wars,” “Star Wars Weekends” would go on to become an annual tradition at Walt Disney World’s third theme park from 2003 to 2015. The festivities included celebrity appearances, special entertainment, and exclusive merchandise as well as opportunities to meet various character from the “Star Wars” saga. Mickey Mouse and his friends even got in on the act by dressing up in appropriate costumes, such as the ones worn by Chip ‘N’ Dale in the above photo. Beginning in 2013, the chipmunk duo donned these outfits inspired by the Ewoks from “Return of the Jedi” on days in which the event took place.
Just like Chip ‘N’ Dale, the Endor-dwelling Ewoks may seem cute and cuddly, but they are not to be trifled with, as Donald Duck and The Empire have learned respectively. Both chipmunks and Ewoks also enjoy a good celebration, which these two were pleased to demonstrate by showing of their dance skills as I took this picture. Following the cancellation of “Star Wars Weekends” in 2016, Disney quietly discontinued the practice of having their animated characters appear as jedi, stormtroopers, or ewoks at the parks in favor of creating more authentic “Star Wars” experiences, so it’s likely that we may never see Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Ewok cosplay ever again. Although new special events such as “Galactic Nights” and RunDisney’s “Star Wars Half Marathon,” in addition to more year-round “Star Wars” offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, have helped fill the void that “Star Wars Weekends” left behind, it’s a shame that Mickey’s friends are no longer able to join in on the fun.