PREVIEW

Getting into stormtrooper gear at Disney's Star Wars Weekends

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Guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios can have their likenesses transformed into a stormtrooper figurine, pose for photographs with Jabba the Hutt's pet and hear a short story from a man who was an Ewok during this year's edition of Star Wars Weekends. The event will be held throughout the theme park on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, today through June 9.

In the D-Tech Me experience, a 3-D face scanner helps create a 7-inch-high personalized stormtrooper figurine. Picture yourself in their trademark white uniform, complete with helmet tucked under your arm.

The unique souvenir takes 10 minutes during the event but seven or eight weeks to be shipped. The cost is $99.95. Disney wants folks to make advance reservations by calling 407-939-8324.

"Having a 3-D figure of yourself dressed as a stormtrooper in full color is pretty cool," says Disney World spokesman Gary Buchanan. "Who doesn't want to be a stormtrooper?"

That experience follows on the heels of last year's Carbon-Freeze Me souvenir, in which guests were "trapped" in a small wall of carbonite a la Han Solo in a pivotal scene in "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back." The Carbon-Freeze Me offer ($99.95) is available again this year.

Both Carbon-Freeze and stormtroopers activities will be in Darth's Mall, the large merchandise area near Rock 'n' Roller Coaster during Star Wars Weekends. That's also where fans can encounter a 17-foot-long representation of a rancor, Jabba's pet beast.

It was created by "Star Wars" fans, and it has made the rounds at "Star Wars" events.

"It's literally been around the world," Buchanan says. Rancor is making its first visit to Star Wars Weekends. It is such a photo opportunity that "Star Wars" mastermind George Lucas and actor Mark Hamill have posed with it.

Other activities, including meet-and-greets, will be set up at the merchandise area, a diversion for the hordes standing in line

"We want to offer them some entertainment in there," Buchanan says. There are also food options, including a Darth Vader-inspired chocolate cupcake.

One-man shows also are incorporated into the event. Back are James Arnold Taylor, who shows off his vocal range in "Obi-Wan & Beyond," and Ray Park in "Visit to a Maul," which features martial arts and audience interaction during the first two weekends of the event.

"In the past he's gotten kids on stage and shown them moves." Buchanan says. "And he gets the double lightsaber out and spins that around."

Warrick Davis returns to Star Wars Weekends after a few years' absence. On the second and third weekends, he'll present "An Ewok's Tale — my short story."

"He's such a great storyteller, and he definitely brings a different perspective to the movies and what happened behind the scenes," Buchanan says. "He's such a great presenter and so personable with the fans."

Popular activities remain in the event lineup, including the Legend of the Force motorcade, which includes Disney characters in "Star Wars" drag, and the "Hyperspace Hoopla," a stage show that presents "Star Wars" characters in unusual settings.

It's the first Star Wars Weekends since Walt Disney Co. bought LucasFilm, the production company for "Star Wars," although planning for the Studios event was well underway before that was announced in late 2012.

"We've had such a great relationship," Buchanan says. "We're definitely looking forward to working closes with our partners."

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477

'Star Wars' actors set for Studios

Members of the "Star Wars" universe are set to make appearances during Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Here's who to expect.

•May 17–19

Ray Park (Darth Maul, "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace")

Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi")

Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Captain Rex, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

•May 24-26

Ray Park (Darth Maul, "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace")

Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok, "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi")

Jim Cummings (voice of Hondo Ohnaka, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars")

• May 31 – June 2

Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok, "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi")

Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar, "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi")

Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars")

•June 7-9

Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian, "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi")

Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca, "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope," "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi," "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith"

Tom Kane (voice of Yoda, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars")

Star Wars Weekends

Where: Disney's Hollywood Studios, off Interstate 4, southwest of Orlando

When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 17 through June 9. Park hours are 8 a.m.-10 p.m. this weekend.

Cost: Included in regular park admission. A one-day, one-park pass is $89 ($83 for ages 3-9).

Phone: 407-824-4321

Online: DisneyWorld.com/starwars

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