Walt Disney World replaces Star Wars dance-off with tasteful character tribute, taking Star Wars Weekends 2014 seriously

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Entertainment, Featured, Movies, Special Events, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

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Each year Walt Disney World hosts Star Wars Weekends bringing together fans with celebrities and characters from across the galaxy. This year’s expanded event spans five weekends, making some big changes along the way.

The event’s popular annual Hyperspace Hoopla show has divided “Star Wars” fans over the many years it has concluded each day at Star Wars Weekends. Its Dance-Off with the Star Wars Stars has been pitting Good vs Evil in dance battles that have included everything from Boba Fett dancing to Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga to Slave Leia and Padme doing “Gangnam Style.”

Dance-Off With the Star Wars Stars 2013 at Walt Disney World
Hyperspace Hoopla 2013

Year after year the show became more outrageous, portraying “Star Wars” characters completely out of character, all in the name of fun and laughs. But many die-hard “Star Wars” fans found it to be offensive, rushing to comment online about how inappropriate Disney’s handling of the franchise has been at this event.

Now, with “Star Wars: Episode VII” currently in production, it seems Disney has finally decided to take the franchise a bit more seriously at Star Wars Weekends.

Instead of ending each Star Wars Weekends 2014 day with Hyperspace Hoopla, a new show has been developed called Symphony in the Stars. It’s a finale not only filled with fireworks but also a brand new stage show that features the “Star Wars” characters in a respectful, tasteful way.

Hosted by James Arnold Taylor, voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in “The Clone Wars,” this new character tribute praises both the “Star Wars” franchise as well as its fans without poking fun or parodying any of it. The show begins by displaying fan photos taken throughout the day and tagged #swwfinale.

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Taylor then individually welcomes groups of characters to the stage – Jedi, Bounty Hunters, Ewoks, even new ones from the upcoming “Star Wars Rebels” TV show – letting them each have their moment in the spotlight. Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and many more all show up. Add in some dazzling special effects and pyrotechnics and this show offers fans a chance to share the love of their favorite films.


Video: NEW Star Wars Weekends 2014 character finale


Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

The show concludes by packing the stage with all the characters at once, striking a pose straight off of a “Star Wars” movie poster, and immediately launching into the Symphony in the Stars fireworks show.

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World


Video: Symphony in the Stars fireworks at Star Wars Weekends 2014


The show is classy, perhaps a bit too much. It has lost its sense of humor in favor of playing the “Star Wars” game absolutely straight. Though it does capture some of the excitement of the films by having bounty hunters and Stormtroopers fire their weapons across the stage with explosive results, it’s lacking the punch necessary to really wow the crowd. A finale battle between the Jedi and Sith would have pulled that off.

But it should quiet those who complained Disney is destroying the “Star Wars” universe with its annual dance-off. Those who enjoyed Hyperspace Hoopla, however, will likely find the new show to have a lot of visual impact, but come off as a bit too dry.

Disney hasn’t completely lost its sense of humor – or sense of rhythm – when it comes to “Star Wars.” This year’s moment most closely resembling the former dance-offs takes place within the Stormtroopers’ skit that precedes the Saga of the Stars talk show. After debating over which Stormtrooper is the most bumbling, the group decides to share what Earth songs are on their playlists while they’re in town for Star Wars Weekends. “What Does the Fox Say,” “Everything Is Awesome,” “Wrecking Ball,” and (of course) “Let It Go” are all included with a bit of singing and dancing.


Video: Stormtroopers sing “Let It Go” from Frozen in song medley at Star Wars Weekends 2014


It’s not quite the huge choreographed spectacular that Hyperspace Hoopla once was, but it is amusing.

Disney has also answered the burning question of what has become of Snig and Oopla, former hosts of Hyperspace Hoopla. That answer becomes known during the Padawan Mind Challenge that takes place multiple times each day during Star Wars Weekends.

Before the show, two characters pick out a family from the crowd to join the performance in trivia battle.

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

Attention is then fixed on host Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano in “The Clone Wars,” who also brings out C-3PO and R2-D2 for assistance.

Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

But it’s the appearance of two new characters, Imperial officers, that begin to connect this show to Hyperspace Hoopla. One of the officers is definitely a familiar face, perhaps a close relative of Snig. And before beginning this trivia contest between the chosen family and the Empire, this officer makes a point of showing off the fate of those who cross him by making examples of Snig and Oopla, now trapped in an unfortunate state.


Video: Padawan Mind Challenge reveals Hyperspace Hoopla hosts’ fate


Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Walt Disney World

IMG_8647

IMG_8649

Yes, it appears Snig and Oopla have been frozen in carbonite. Of course, we know that Han Solo survived this fate so it’s conceivable that we will see them again some day.

As for the Padawan Mind Challenge, it’s a bit rough around the edges but the new Imperial officers really make the show worth seeing by way of their fantastic comedic timing and improv skills, particularly during the lightning round near the end. (Where else will you hear “Star Wars” jokes referencing Barbara Walters and “Schindler’s List”?)

It seems Disney is still trying to find the balance between taking “Star Wars” seriously and keeping it fun and upbeat. As director JJ Abrams begins to craft the seventh film in his own style while staying true to the original trilogy, Disney figures out how to handle the franchise in its theme parks.

The fireworks finale definitely ends each Star Wars Weekends evening with a bang, but lacks the complete satisfaction of watching characters cut loose and break it down. However, Hyperspace Hoopla simply outgrew the event as hundreds of guests crammed toward that center stage each night hours in advance to secure spots. That’s no longer necessary as the new stage show, while quite entertaining, is really an extended photo op followed by the real ending to the event high up in the sky, viewable from just about anywhere.

Now Star Wars Weekends attendees can casually show up near the stage just a little while before the finale begins at 9:30pm and enjoy one last exciting trip through the world of “Star Wars” entertainment. It may be an unpopular move by Disney, but it is a smart one, likely setting the tone for future events to come.

There is much more than these shows at Star Wars Weekends 2014, including many character meet-and-greets, much merchandise, and plenty of celebrity appearances – all of which we’ll be featuring soon, so keep checking back.

More photos from Star Wars Weekends 2014:

33 Comments

  1. iSRS

    Great review. I agree. With Disney now owning the rights, and likely more serious toned films, it makes sense to conform to a brand standard. Which begs the question, does all of this qualify as Canon?

    :)

    MTFBWY

  2. @disdawgs

    Screw serious, I want my Hoopla

  3. Michael

    Schindlers list?! At a Disney park? You’re not serious are you?

    1. Don

      Quite shocked to read that and completely disgusting.

      Sure the Disney company would sell puppy coasts as long as they can make a buck.
      What I’ve seen from the new animated series is also laughable and if enough money spending whiners demand their hoopla crap back I’m sure Disney will throw their franchise in front of the train and make it as profitable as can be. Respect and taste left the resort years ago. May the farce be with you…

    2. EricJ

      I wasn’t even THERE, and I’m guessing a Liam Neeson/Qui-Gon joke. Chill.

  4. jc

    Just got home from SW weekend with my son, had a good day but missed the hoopla. Photop/fireworks are not worth doing a second day or staying all day for. Crowd seemed light today which I am sure has nothing to do with the hoopla vs fireworks discussion but seemed odd
    .

  5. Universal Bob

    Man, who ever thought that any of this was a good idea???
    I’ll just shake my head and remember 1977……..

  6. Rich J

    I have been a SW fan from the beginning. I am all for pulling it all together but to a point. The Hyperspace Hoopla/Dance Off was fun and entertaining and people should take a joke or have a sense of humor.

    BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!!

  7. DB

    Very well written review article. Like I’ve said on this site and others before. Don’t just make your voice heard when things are wrong or when you dislike something at the parks. Also make your voice heard when things are right or when you really enjoy something. I believe the decision to get rid of hoopla was a combination of being more serious about the brand AND negative feedback from guests or online viewers. Just as this article states there was a divide about how fans feel about HH. I usually found online that there were more negative comments about it than positive.

  8. PNolen

    One factual inaccuracy in this article: Neither of the Imperial Officers in the new “Padawan Mind Challenge: Family Edition” show are related to “Snig” from “Hyperspace Hoopla.” Trust me on this one.

    1. Since1976

      I think he meant “in story”, not in real life :-)

  9. Lance

    Best…move…ever!

    (dumping the hoopla)

    1. EricJ

      Dumping the Hoopla because everyone now expected Boba Fett to moonwalk is one thing…
      But putting Snig and Oopla in carbonate is a message to the fans–The PTB don’t WANT it to come back. :)

  10. MarkD

    I’m so glad they’re making this change. I hated the “Hoopla” for various reasons; not only was the ‘comedy’ mediocre at best, but the Slave Leia and Padme dancers were inappropriate for Disney in the manner in which they were shown and choreographed. It was too much “Chicago” and not enough wholesome family fun.

  11. Barry

    I’ve been a Star Wars fan since episode 5 came out when I was 11. The hooplah was great. Bring back the hooplah. Bring back the hooplah. Bring back the hooplah. My wife, daughter and I will be making bring back the hooplah t-shirts for next weekend.

  12. Milanie

    I still can’t believe that they got rid of Snig and Oopla and the hyperspace hoopla and broke it to the the crowd with this slap in the face! (A blurry picture of the two trapped in carbonite and a hurried explanation). They say that they want to take the franchise more seriously but instead they robbed the star wars weekend of all the fun and whimsical humor! Really disappointed.

  13. r2d2dc

    I for one thought that the hoopla was fun the first time I saw it but it got old for me. I love the characters coming out and the fireworks and think that it fits the Disney and Star Wars theme nicely together. I just got tired of the hoopla dance off which really got to be a popular but for me tired old wierd end to the day. No offence intended to anyone it’s just my opinion and I Love the change. Thank you Disney for taking on the Star Wars franchise and I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Go Disney knock my socks off. I have never been disappointed in what you do, and have no reason to start now. By the way I love all of the new things that Disney has brought to the Star Wars Weekends, it doesn’t just start and stop at the Hoopla. Well done!!

  14. WookieeMonster

    I’m sad to see the Hyperspace Hoopla go. While I found the two host characters to be more annoying than Jar Jar Binks on a sugar rush, I loved the dance battles and they were more than entertaining enough to make up for the lame comedy in between. Also, I have to admit that as a dude I thought their Padme and Leia dancers were unbelievably hot, but I was also surprised that they allowed something that provocative at Disney World in the first place, so I can kinda understand letting it go. Oh well, I still have the Youtube videos.

  15. Christina sww

    No hoopla =hoop blaaaa! Big failure! People need to lighten up an have fun!!! Disney please bring bk the hoopla

  16. Aaron

    Did those people who were offended that this “tarnished” the reputation of the brand FORGET the poop and fart humor that Lucas put into Episode 1?

  17. I feel hat is among the such a lot vital information for
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  18. Jess

    Oh c’mon, I love star wars and dance off was fun, there was many laugs, It’s no offensive is only humor.
    I prefer Dance-Off. And I hope that in 2015!

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