"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Chewbacca Experience

Everyone has their favorite things about visiting the Disney parks. I'd never poo poo another's obsession, but I never got the character meet-n-greet fanatics. I'm happy to jump in a line that looks really short to have a photo with a character, don't get me wrong. And one of our most magical moments ever involved Cinderella's interaction with John when he was a tyke. But I've always been a spontaneous character meeter, not one to work a meet into my day's plans. That changed on this trip, and I think I now completely understand the meet-n-greet thing.

On our Hollywood Studios day, which we made the first day of our visit, I actually had as my number one priority meeting Chewbacca at the Star Wars Launch Bay. The family was fully in support. They weren't nearly as interested in Chewbacca face time as I was, but they knew how much I wanted to experience this and so happily agreed to make it happen. It wasn't a hassle at all, as it turns out. The queue featured displays of lightsabers, which was cool, and the wait was posted at 30 minutes. Lisa pointed out that the line appeared to full of dads more excited than their children to see Chewie, so I wasn't alone and didn't feel a bit odd or out of place. I was excited. But I had no idea what would happen when it was our turn.

We were ushered into the meet area and there he was. Chewbacca. Sure, somewhere in my mind I
knew it was a tall dude in a hairy costume, but that tidbit suddenly ran far to the depths of my consciousness leaving the rest of m brain convinced I was in the presence of my childhood hero, Chewbacca.

I was five going on six when Star Wars came out. I loved it and all my friends agreed. We played Star Wars all the time, and I was always Chewbacca. He was my favorite to the extent I wouldn't even think about pretending to be anyone else in the movie. He's just so cool.

So there I was, looking at Chewbacca, and that 6 year old came right back. I couldn't talk. We spent probably 5 minutes in there getting photos and I never said one word. I just looked up at him and grinned. I was star-struck. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I could meet any human actor or rock star or politician or any other famous person out there and this wouldn't happen. That tiny part far away in my brain that knew it was a dude in a costume was saying I was being silly. But it was so quiet and far away I paid no mind. I enjoyed being 6 and starstruck.

Chewbacca knew. I'm sure he did. I'm kind of an open book anyhow and when I revert to childhood even more so. He hugged me. Lots. We mime-joked about Lisa being so much shorter. We made the Wookie cheers for the camera. When our photo shoot was done, he walked us to the door and in his silent, non-verbal way he made me know he understood how much that had meant and that he got it. I didn't leave feeling silly. I left feeling 100% happy and content. I walked on air grinning like a fool for probably an hour afterwards. I still get warm and fuzzy remembering it.

I'm glad it was our first day, because I was on the look-out for easy character meets the rest of the trip. We popped in to see Baymax on the way to The Land first thing at Epcot and caught Mexican Donald with a really short line later that day in World Showcase. Both experiences were great and the photos that came from them are treasures.

I'm not sure I'm ready to wait an hour or more for a meet, or use a FastPass+ on one, but I completely get those who do now. For my part, I'll be much  more likely to seek them out on future trips.

Not a meet per se, but it was super cool seeing these guys

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