If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, there’s no arguing that you need to clear out at least one day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check out Galaxy’s Edge. It’s not like you can find the opportunity to pilot the Millennium Falcon and drink blue milk just anywhere!
But there’s another attraction outside of Batuu that you need to visit if you love the franchise, and it’s a lot less crowded (in the best way). In fact, Star Wars Launch Bay is the only place you can meet characters like BB-8, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader in the parks, while checking out some cool pieces of movie history along the way.
Before you stop in for your one-on-one encounter with a Wookiee, keep reading for our guide to Star Wars Launch Bay.
Star Wars Launch Bay Quick Facts
Description: Star Wars Launch Bay is a walkthrough attraction that allows you to check out authentic props and costumes (and replicas) along with character meet and greets with Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and BB-8.
Star Wars Launch Bay is located in the back of Animation Courtyard, next to the Disney Junior Play & Dance! theater. When you enter the park, walk towards the Chinese theater and take a right, walking under the large Hollywood Studios sign. The Launch Bay building will be right in front of you.
How to Experience Star Wars Launch Bay
Star Wars Launch Bay has a Standby Line, but no Lightning Lane or Single Rider Line. Since it’s a walkthrough attraction, it’s pretty easy to visit — all you have to do is walk in, usually. Sometimes, the Standby Line will be utilized, but most of the time, there’s no wait to get into the attraction.
Once you’re in, you’re free to roam as you please, but if you’re planning on meeting one or more of the characters, there are separate Standby Lines for each one.
Though you can’t find wait times for the character meet and greets on the app, they are posted at the attraction. During the busiest times of the year, you may find that there’s a wait as long as 45 minutes, but most of the time, you will wait 30 minutes or less.
Do I Need To Use Genie+ at Star Wars Launch Bay?
Genie+ isn’t offered at Star Wars Launch Bay, but fortunately, you won’t need it. Crowds are relatively low here, especially if you visit first thing in the morning.
That makes this the perfect attraction to visit in the afternoons, when the park is at its busiest. It’s a great time to take a break from the busy (and hot) park while checking out the different exhibits and maybe even meeting a droid.
Keep in mind that the Launch Bay’s hours aren’t always the same as the park’s hours while planning your visit; often, it will close earlier than the rest of Hollywood Studios does.
For the rest of your adventures, check out our Hollywood Studios touring plans for more Genie+ advice.
What to Expect When You Visit
Though there is space for an outdoor queue outside of Star Wars Launch Bay, it’s rarely used — you should be able to walk right into the building. If you’re planning to take your time, though, you can check out some cool concept art from the franchise in the outdoor queue.
If you’re planning to meet the characters here, there will be three separate, fully indoor queues for them inside of the Launch Bay. While waiting to meet Darth Vader, you’ll be taken inside the meet and greet area through a door that will remind you a lot of the Death Star.
For Chewbacca, the queue will lead you into a secret rebel base, and for BB-8 (which has to be one of the cutest meet and greets on Disney property), your queue will end with the chance to interact with the droid, who is perched on a stand that keeps him at the right height for group photos and selfies.
There is also a separate Darth Vader meet and greet for Disney Visa Cardmembers. You must present a valid Disney Visa Card for entry.
There aren’t autographs here for any of the characters. Disney PhotoPass is only available with the Disney Visa Cardmember Character Experience, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader (the meet and greet for all guests).
PhotoPass photos will be included with Memory Maker or available to purchase individually on the My Disney Experience app.
Guests who are using ECVs and wheelchairs may continue to use them inside the Launch Bay.
There are also handheld captioning devices and assistive listening for guests with hearing disabilities.
During the Experience
There’s a lot to see and do inside of Star Wars Launch Bay, even if meeting characters isn’t your thing. In fact, even if you’ve been here before, you might want to stop in again — the exhibits here do change from time to time, so you might get to see something brand new that wasn’t on display during your last visit.
The tour of Launch Bay is totally self-guided, so you can do (or skip) anything here in any order you choose. Aside from the meet and greets, you’ll also see both real props and replica items and costumes from the Star Wars franchise on display.
There’s also an area designed to look like a Cantina from the movie, complete with a blue milk prop you can pose for photos with.
You’ll also spot Star Wars Launch Bay Theater, but it remains closed at this time. Usually, a short 10-minute behind-the-scenes documentary is shown about the new generation filmmakers crafting the future of Star Wars.
The film, which also included exclusive interviews with the directors, writers, producers, and other key players behind the beloved film series, used to run continuously throughout the day.
The Launch Bay ends in a gift shop where you can buy Star Wars memorabilia called Launch Bay Cargo.
Is Star Wars Launch Bay Kid-Friendly?
Yes, Star Wars Launch Bay is suitable for all ages — especially little ones who are already big Star Wars fans. Though some kiddos might get a bit freaked out by the Darth Vader meet and greet (can we blame them?) everything else in this walkthrough attraction is tame.
It can also be a great escape for tired or overwhelmed kids. It’s a bit dark inside with air conditioning flowing and several benches, so you might find that it’s a good place to cool off and catch your breath, especially while traveling with toddlers and babies.
To help plan your day in the parks with kids, be sure to check out our guide to things that might scare little ones at Disney World.
You’ll need to park your stroller before entering the Launch Bay, but there’s plenty of room for stroller parking in the designated area right outside the entrance.
Don’t forget to bring in anything valuable (like phones, keys, and wallets), and you may want to cover your stroller with a rain cover or poncho before heading in, just in case a Florida rainstorm unexpectedly pops up during your visit.
Before Star Wars Launch Bay opened, this building was actually used to house an attraction called The Magic of Disney Animation.
After watching an introductory film, guests would get to see actual Disney animators hard at work by walking through an area enclosed with glass that looked down on them as they worked.
There was also a section where guests could try their hand at drawing popular Disney characters as an animator instructed them, along with a few character meet and greets to round the experience out.
The Magic of Disney Animation closed in July 2015, with Star Wars Launch Bay opening in December of that year — just in time for the debut of The Force Awakens.
Other Fun Details
- This building once housed the Florida campus of Walt Disney Feature Animation, and several films we think of as classic were animated here, including The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and scenes from The Lion King and Beauty & the Beast.
- The Star Wars Launch Bay once featured Jawas, who would trade plastic droid parts for shiny objects like bobby pins and paper clips with guests.
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