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The 2000 Star Wars Weekends are scheduled for four consecutive weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday):

May 5 - 7    Hugh Quarshie (Captain Panaka) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) 

May 12 - 14    Iain McCaig (Concept Designer) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)

May 19 - 21    Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker) and Dave Prowse (Darth Vader)

May 26 - 28    Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, Saturday and Sunday) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)

The far away galaxy of Star Wars returns to Walt Disney World Resort beginning May 4, 2001 with the second annual Star Wars Weekends. Lucasfilm Ltd.and Disney-MGM Studios are teaming up for four consecutive weekends of Star Wars fun.

Inspired by the four Star Wars films -- Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace -- Star Wars Weekends bring guests face-to-face with their favorite characters, from the cuddly Ewoks to the evil Darth Maul.

 Here's what's in store:  

  • Actors and voice performers from the films are scheduled to appear in daily star conversations, handprint ceremonies, autograph sessions and Hollywood-style motorcades.
  • A variety of characters from the films will roam the Disney-MGM Studios greeting guests and posing for photographs.
  • Guests have the opportunity to take flight to the Moon of Endor in Star Tours, an action-packed flight simulator experience set in Star Wars galaxy. Synchronizing a stunning film with the virtually limitless gyrations of the simulator, the attraction takes guests on a hair-raising, light-speed trip aboard a careening star speeder.
  • Star Wars trivia contests and games will test fans' knowledge of "the Force" and a special Video Starcade will feature the best in Star Wars electronic games.
  • Fans can peer behind-the-scenes on the making of the four Star Wars movies, including a sneak-peek at Episode II.
  • As the sun gives way to the stars each evening, the excitement rises with a Cantina Street Party featuring music, games, and Star Wars characters.
  • Throughout the day, several lucky guests will be chosen to take part in a Jedi Training Camp, where they learn lightsaber techniques and even square off against Darth Vader.
  • Star Wars merchandise -- from Star Wars Weekend exclusive pins to action figures and commemorative lithographs to costumes, masks and other limited-edition items -- will be available in Tatooine Traders.

Visitors to the Disney - MGM Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida this weekend were greeted not only by a famous mouse, but also two stormtroopers and a famous bounty hunter monitoring their movements. This extra "security" was put in place for the first of four Star Wars Weekends taking place at the park each Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May.

Each day includes a rich mix of Star Wars experiences, including a high-profile celebrity motorcade featuring personalities from the Star Wars universe. On Saturday, May 6, the parade began near the opening gate led by an Imperial Officer, Chewbacca, two Jawas and followed by a strong contingent of young Padawans - local children who are students of martial arts - dressed in Jedi-inspired robes and displaying new skills with lightsabers. The crowd was thrilled to catch sight of cars carrying two actors from The Phantom Menace - Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Hugh Quarshie (Captain Panaka). Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a squad of stormtroopers kept enthusiastic visitors at bay as the motorcade made its final destination under the park's full-sized AT-AT.

Quarshie and Baker then took some time to talk with a Disney representative and answer questions from the crowd. Fans young and old were entertained with stories reminiscing about the creation of the films and descriptions of life in the severe heat of Tunisia where the Tatooine scenes were shot. After the questions, the actors participated in the park tradition of placing their hands in cement as a permanent commemoration of their visit.

 To help fully enter the Star Wars experience, many guests chose to transform themselves into Darth Maul, Queen Amidala or even Jar Jar Binks with the help of the talented face painters on hand.

A favorite destination of park guests is the Star Tours ride where what should be a smooth shuttle to the moon of Endor suddenly turns in to a body shaking adventure. Having survived the trip, visitors make their way into the newly renovated Tatooine Trader gift shop where the usual line of Star Wars memorabilia of all kinds was joined with special items exclusive to the Star Wars Weekends. The limited edition posters, shirts and pins (two new styles each weekend) were hits with the fans and many found their way into the autograph lines.

Throughout the day, beloved Star Wars characters including Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Darth Maul, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Queen Amidala delighted the crowds by signing autographs and posing for pictures. It was often difficult to tell if the smiles of the children were any bigger than the smiles of the parents taking a photo. Naturally, older fans couldn't pass up the chance to meet their favorites as well.

Training to become a Jedi, however, remains the domain of the young. Five times each day, visiting children had the chance to participate in a Jedi Training Camp. After taking an oath to use the Force for knowledge and defense and never for attack, the young trainees learned the beginning moves of a Jedi using their practice lightsabers. Unfortunately, the evil Darth Vader interrupted the lesson looking for new dark side apprentices. Using their new skills, however, the young trainees were able to drive him a way and remain on the path of true Jedi.

With other activites including a behind-the-scenes presentation about the making of The Phantom Menace, a video starcade with Classic Star Wars arcade games, a Cantina Street Party, trivia contests and more, the first Star Wars Weekend brought a dose of Star Wars magic to visitors of every age and every level of fandom. With three more weekends and guests including Jake Lloyd and Carrie Fisher, there's still time to get in on the excitement.