Baby Yoda & Mandalorian Meeting at Disney World!
Walt Disney World is surprising guests with Mandalorian and Grogu (Baby Yoda) characters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This post covers details of the new additions, plus our commentary about how this will improve the land and Walt Disney World needs to do more of this.
For those who are unaware, this dynamic duo started meeting last year at the start of the Christmas season in California. Mandalorian and Baby Yoda have been incredibly popular out there–we’ve seen them around a dozen times in Batuu West, and each time they’re practically swarmed by guests.
In fact, when Mandalorian and Grogu first began appearing, the crowds around them were so large that Cast Members were aggressively clearing people away. Things have gotten better since, but they still get mobbed on occasion and it can be difficult to capture good photos or video.
Back when it was originally announced that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would “evolve” its storytelling, this was focused primarily on Disneyland. At the time, it was believed that this was because Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Resort complicated elements of the timeline at Walt Disney World.
That explanation doesn’t quite pass the smell test for me, especially given past precedent. It’s incredibly common for characters to appear in the California parks but never make their way to Florida. There’s no good “timeline” reason why Mirabel, Bruno, Raya, Ortensia (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s female counterpart), Minnie & Friends as the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus, or just about anyone from new Marvel shows on Disney+ have appeared at Disneyland but not Walt Disney World. The timeline is just a convenient excuse.
Regardless, here’s what Imagineer Scott Trowbridge had to say about how the storytelling of Galaxy’s Edge will evolve with these additions back when they were first announced last year: “Since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in 2019, Star Wars storytelling has experienced a galactic expansion to include many new characters and stories across a wide range of settings. Now, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likewise expanding the stories guests can encounter when visiting,” shared Trowbridge.
“Having been designed from the outset to connect with a broad range of Star Wars storytelling, Black Spire Outpost has played a role in many of these stories stretching over thousands of years and while, up to now, we have mostly shared those story connections through media and publishing, we will soon give visitors to Batuu an opportunity to connect with those fan-favorite stories with the immersive detail and authenticity that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was designed to deliver.”
Walt Disney Imagineering is committed to the long history of Batuu and the collection of characters who inhabit the outpost. This includes legacy characters, original characters, and new and future characters from the ever-expanding galaxy of Star Wars storytelling.
Trowbridge added this, which I found interesting: “While we as visitors may be able to experience different stories throughout Star Wars history, the characters on Batuu can not. They will remain in their specific story and timeline and won’t intersect with other characters or stories that would not be appropriate for them.”
Out in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, other characters have been appearing for a while now in addition to Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. There, the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand stake a claim in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, as they wander around Black Spire Outpost.
Although Grogu is undeniably adorable, we actually prefer interacting with Boba Fett and Fennec Shand. For one thing, neither is nearly as popular–it’s common to see Fennec all by herself, blending in with the surroundings and proactively approach guests and question them. As an actual face character who is able to improvise, she’s the most amusing of the bunch, and offers up the most fun (and often funny) interactions. Makes for good people watching in Black Spire Outpost.
For now, the only characters who have arrived in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are Din Djarin and Grogu. The timing of appearances of the Mandalorian characters beginning on March 1, 2023 is hardly coincidental, as it’s also the day that the journey of Din Djarin and Baby Yoda continues in the third season of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+.
To our knowledge, no end date has been set for the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda walkaround characters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No other information has been provided as to when or how long these characters will appear at Walt Disney World.
Us searching for a Ronto Wrap… the new season of #TheMandalorian is now streaming on @DisneyPlus!💫 pic.twitter.com/PQNVamq2nZ
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 1, 2023
In fact, as of the time that this story broke, Walt Disney World had not yet even officially announced that the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are appearing in Florida. It would not surprise us in the least if it does not make the Disney Parks Blog–and isn’t in the My Disney Experience app.
Disney Parks has now shared the above video on its social media channels. Note that it doesn’t actually announce anything–you have to look at the reply underneath that to see this is from Walt Disney World. Many might miss that, and (understandably) assume the video is of the characters at Disneyland or Disneyland Paris.
One of the more legitimate concerns that Walt Disney World management has had about limited time promotional meet & greets is the expectations they create among guests. Meaning that if the Mandalorian and Grogu are only scheduled to stick around through Summer 2023 (just a random example), people arriving in the fall…or even December 2024…will complain when the characters are no longer around.
With that said, our expectation is that the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda appear at DHS for at least the duration of the Mandalorian Season 3. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are at Walt Disney World through Summer 2023.
UPDATE: Walt Disney World has indicated that the Mandalorian and Grogu will make regular appearances in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge alongside the existing lineup of regularly-appearing characters. Din Djarin and Baby Yoda are not appearing as part of a limited time or promotional push; their appearances are open-ended but subject to change.
As for when you can see the walk-around duo, if they’re anything like their California counterparts, you can expect to encounter Din Djarin and Grogu at random from around 10 am to 5 pm daily. Our strong advice would be to head to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge right around 10 am if you want to actually interact with them and get photos. It has been exceedingly difficult during peak hours at Disneyland.
It’s nothing new for Walt Disney World to add characters for a limited time to promote a new movie or television show. That’s almost certainly what’s happening here with Din Djarin and Grogu for season 3 of the Mandalorian on Disney+. What remains to be seen is how long this promotal appearance lasts, and whether it becomes permanent by popular guest demand.
Back in the 1990s, pretty much every new animated film received a full parade. More recently, it has happened with meet & greets, dance parties, projection shows/tags, and extended previews…but mostly just at Disneyland. The quality of these varies and does whether they fit naturally or feel contrived, but the point is that synergy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Historically, Walt Disney World has benefited tremendously from synergy, and could continue to do so in the current climate with the company fixated on its Disney+ streaming service. Why they have declined so many recent characters (and other additions) is actually a bit frustrating.
Some might argue that failing to embrace synergy is an even worse thing, and I would be in that camp. There are finally rumors that Mirabel will have a dedicated meet & greet in Magic Kingdom (replacing Merida) but it’s been over a year since Encanto was released and became a smash hit. Up until now, all Walt Disney World has is Mirabel in a cavalcade and (as of today) Encanto topiaries at the front of EPCOT. This is still woefully insufficient. An average first-time guest expects to see characters from popular new movies at Walt Disney World.
As people who enjoy fun and adorable critters, we’re totally on board with Baby Yoda (officially Grogu, for people who take Star Wars seriously), the Mandalorian, and other characters appearing in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We actually discussed exactly this in our post: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Needs to Break the Rules.
Suffice to say, this alone will go a long way to address our core complaints, many of which could also be rectified by simply adding many more characters to inhabit the land. (Something that we’ve yet to really see since both Walt Disney World and Disneyland dropped physically-distanced characters.)
One thing that I thought was notable about Scott Trowbridge’s previous statement was that visitors may be able to experience different stories throughout Star Wars history, but the characters on Batuu can not. Specifically, he said this about the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda: “They will remain in their specific story and timeline and won’t intersect with other characters or stories that would not be appropriate for them.”
To my knowledge, this isn’t relevant to any of the character additions that were just announced. Both of the series on Disney+ are only set a couple of decades before Batuu, so there’s nothing inherently at odds with them appearing in the land’s current timeline. This statement seems more relevant for future changes.
The clear implication–reinforced with multiple references to characters, including legacy characters–is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will no longer be bound to a specific timeline, but the characters inhabiting it will. This wouldn’t be anything new; character integrity has always been a big deal for Disney.
This would mean that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could theoretically be one time period in the morning and a different one in the evening, or even different timelines in different areas of the land. So long as the characters themselves don’t break continuity, there’s wiggle room for what the land itself can accommodate, at least, in theory.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Walt Disney World will juggle multiple timelines simultaneously throughout the day, week, or even year on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It could simply be nudging open the door for switching things up in the future to keep the land fresh and encourage repeat visits.
Over time, it’ll be interesting to see what happens on that front, and how the physical components of the land (e.g. attractions, shops, dining, etc.) play into this timeline continuity–or don’t. It’s been almost a year since Trowbridge originally announced all of this, and the only thing that has changed thus far is the characters. At some point, a ‘timeline refresh’ of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would be a cost-effective and efficient way to bring a sense of newness to the land.
Ultimately, this is great news for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Kudos to the team that finally got the Mandalorian and Grogu at Walt Disney World; this is a huge addition that’ll really bring a fresh sense of energy and excitement to Black Spire Outpost.
As we wrote before, it was only a matter of time until Baby Yoda and his homies started to appear at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No matter what the initial intent and timeframe for their appearances, this is too big to contain. These characters are tremendously popular, with guest demand and satisfaction scores inevitably making the decision for Walt Disney World to make these characters permanent fixtures of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This is the Way.
Beyond that, this is another signal that Imagineering and Lucasfilm are still tinkering with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and the land isn’t viewed as a “finished product.” That’s not altogether unsurprising, as there were credible rumors about additions and changes way back in early 2020, but those fizzled out entirely in March of that year. Between the MagicBand+ bounty hunter game and this character news, it’s nice to see Imagineering getting more opportunities to revisit Batuu, iterating and improving upon its offerings. Here’s hoping that more is on the horizon. We’ll keep you posted, so stay tuned!
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Are you excited to finally see the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda appear at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Hopeful that they’re still in the land during your next trip to Walt Disney World? Do you think Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge should break its own rules or stick to the fixed timeline and story? Would you like to see even more characters in the land? What about Darth Vader and other original trilogy characters? Think Galaxy’s Edge should focus on fun, canon, or a mix of both? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
This is not hard Imagineering… You put a warehouse type building in Galaxy’s Edge. Call it “Galactic History Encounters hosted by Willrow Hood Enterprises”. Make it like the Princess meet and greet in Fantasyland in WDW. Characters from different Star Wars eras appear during the day for photo ops. Load the queue with Star Wars memorabilia from the vaults. BOOM. Fan service accomplished. Flexibility within the different Star Wars timelines / franchises. Ability to quickly shift emphasis depending on the current marketing push. Another attraction in Galaxy Edge.
Or put a Skyway like gondola ride from Galaxy Edge to where Star Tours is. Each gondola is filled with screen windows so that you’re showing Star Wars themed clips (kind of like the Hogwarts Express at Universal). Something easy for the kids to get into / out of and is high throughput.
Do you have a sense of what Disney leaders *would* have considered a success for GE Tom? We went in the quiet weeks last September; GE was crowded most of the day, constant lines for Droid Depot, booked up Savi’s Workshop, booked up Cantina, busy Docking Bay 7 within an hour of it opening… what more could they reasonably have expected?!
Okay, I’m not much of a Star Wars fan beyond the Parts 4-6 (original trilogy that started in 1977, based on my age/experience and the fact I don’t have cable TV or Disney+. What struck me in your post, Tom, is the idea of replacing Merida with Mirabel! I love Mirabel and want to meet her, but I got my first opportunity to meet Merida at Magic Kingdom one month ago – and she’s FANTASTIC! So full of energy and fun – one of the best character greetings I’ve ever experienced! Why can’t we have both Merida and Mirabel? I also got to meet Darth Vader and Chewbacca at Hollywood Studios, very cool – but the real prize was Max and Goofy! I had thought I was the world’s only Max fan (I have the movies on DVD) and was thrilled to discover that I have a whole community!
“What struck me in your post, Tom, is the idea of replacing Merida with Mirabel!”
Just to be clear, this is not my idea. Barring some last-minute change, this will absolutely be happening at some point later this year. (I’ve heard conflicting timelines, so no date–or even a range–yet.)
OMG! I just made made 15 year old Grogu obsessed child cry! I hope Grogu and Mandalorian stay At Hollywood Stufios through the summer! My thought is this should be a meet and greet since they are so popular! Praying this is permanent!
I’d be excited even if they weren’t going to be in Galaxy Edge. As it is…
I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of armchair Imagineers suddenly cried out in excitement and were suddenly measuring the dimensions of Star Wars: Launch Bay.
Those rumors were really strong back in ~2019, but totally fizzled out.
For as busy as it can be, I still don’t think Galaxy’s Edge has lived up to expectations or drawn the level of crowds expected. (There’s a reason it was cut from the Paris plans!) As a result, rumors of building out more capacity at DHS have really died down.
There’s a reason we heard about Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom at the D23 Expo. Hopefully more is also on the horizon for DHS and EPCOT, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
i have mixed feelings. do i love the random pop-up character experiences that make disneyland special? yes, absolutely, we loved riding the carousel with mary poppins and the teacups with alice. but do i also love meet and greets where you have a few minutes to hug and get autographs? yes, absolutely, both as a parent and as a fan.
i love this idea of this. but the mobs would be a huge turn off for me, especially to attempt to get barely a bad selfie (which i hate doing anyway).
I think the solution to that is just adding more. There’s no good solution that makes Baby Yoda less popular and easy to see; that is what it is.
However, adding a lot more characters to Galaxy’s Edge (and all around the parks) takes some of the pressure off everything else, and makes the land feel more “lived in” and energetic.
Aside from Encanto, Disney has actually been doing a really good job of this on both coasts lately (another good example is the other new rare characters at DHS). Here’s hoping it continues.
Vaguely related, but happy ‘First Starcruiser Voyage’ anniversary. I’ve been hoping for new Characters in Galaxy’s Edge for a while, and would love the day that Vader finally makes an appearance there (I’m sure it’s the number two question in Galaxy’s Edge behind ‘where are the bathrooms?’ and, strangely, ‘Where is the Millenium Falcon.’ I don’t understand why that is what I am asked the most, and I’m not even a cast member). If this one starts making appearances during the after-hours parties like the other characters do, then those will get even MORE value – interacting with Stormtroopers in the Cantina at midnight as Jane from Tarzan is one of my favorite memories at Batuu.
Hard to believe it’s been a year since that first Starcruiser voyage! That was far and away my most vivid Walt Disney World memory from last year, which alone speaks volumes about the experience.
A lot to unpack in the rest of your comment, but I’m most curious about why you were dressed as Jane from Tarzan at DHS?
Actually it really relieves me that it’s so vivid for you! It absolutely was for me…but I also feel like I was the exact target demographic so it’s been hard for me to weight my own opinion.
As for Jane…I was doing a bound at Animal Kingdom earlier that day as we figured that was the perfect park to pair with a late night after-hours at HWS. I bought us the AH tickets to essentially use the time as one long photoshoot in an empty Galaxy’s edge for a friend with a Borderlands costume (basically another space western), which was expensive but ABSOLUTELY worth it for the crazy-good pics we got–especially with no one else in the Cantina. I just didn’t end up having time to change out of Jane and then I was suddenly surrounded by Stormtroopers. We had a ten-minute long conversation, which I think is pretty impressive considering they only have so many phrases available. But…it was such a good experience that I’d buy tickets to After Hours again just for the character interactions. If that included the Mandalorian…wow, what a deal. But I’d love to talk to Boba Fett or Fennec just as much…especially with the experiences that you reported!
Seems like they could have added them a while back when they started to carry the merch. I’d love to know the inside info as far as timelines go. Batuu could have had some relation to Mando and subsequent Boba Fett stories this whole time. Did someone underestimate their success? They were early pandemic entertainment saviors. Still, I’d total fangirl, and would even hope Pedro might make a surprise appearance.
I first heard rumors of this particular character being in development as of December 2019. (Remember, Baby Yoda was a total secret until the show launched–he didn’t even have merchandise out in time for that first Christmas!)
Two big things changed after that–one is obviously the closure, but the other was the huge success of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. I know it feels like ancient history, but SWGE was not a hit on either coast when it first debuted. As a result, a lot was put on the table as ways to inject new life and popularity into the land–most of which was deemed unnecessary by early 2020. To my knowledge, Mando/Grogu was still going to happen even after that, but it became far less urgent and the closure/slow reopening further delayed those plans.
I still think we’ll see Imagineering tinker with SWGE more in the years to come, but I have no clue as to what that means or when it’ll happen.
I very much hope they stick around through Easter as we are taking my daughter’s Make-a-Wish trip to Disney and this would make her so happy as Grogu is her absolute favorite!
Hope you have a fantastic trip and that your daughter is able to see Grogu!
OMG! It’s not Baby Yoda!!!!
But I will say that they did a great job with this character. Especially having “GROGU” move and make sounds and the Mandalorian talking to “GROGU”. I will definitely look for them on our next trip in March:)
Sorry, I forgot the LOL after the “It’s not baby Yoda”.
Oh yeah, the characters are absolutely perfect. It’s too bad they’re always mobbed (but understandably so); I’d really like the chance to observe the two without fighting a huge crowd.
Hopefully this is the template for Figment (and Dreamfinder) to return to EPCOT later this year. I highly doubt it, but I can dream!