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Star Wars Character Visit 1977
Star Wars Character Visit 1977
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The First Decade: Star Wars Characters Visit in 1977
Long before Star Wars weekends at the Studios, the Dark Lord of the Sith was visiting Disney property. In October of 1977, Darth Vader took time out from his busy schedule to visit Walt Disney World Village during the height of the original Star Wars mania. He was most likely portrayed by Kermit "Bryce" Eller during this appearance. Scott Santmyer was lucky enough to be there and sent in these pictures to Walt Dated World. He recalls that "autographed" posters were given out similar to the ones shown in the background of these pictures. It appears that this event was most likely held in the Captain's Tower in the Village.
Michael Widell also remembers that day but he recalls that Darth Vader wasn't the only Star Wars character there. "We lived in Tampa at the time and my parents went shopping quite often in the Village. It just happened that one of the weekends we drove over was during this event. There were other costumed characters from the movie but all attention was on Darth, the line for Mark Hamill was very small and he left shortly after the event began." Can anyone else confirm this?
David Simpson also remembers this event: "I grew up in Orlando and was at the poster signing event for Darth Vader in 1977. Those posters were shown on the Antiques Roadshow 2009 Chattanooga show Episode 2. It was valued at $2,000.00. The lines were very long for the signing and other stars from the movie were present, but everyone wanted to meet Darth Vader. The signing did take place at the Captain's Tower and went on into the evening hours."
Walt Dated World Helps Lucasfilm!
In 2008, Walt Dated World was first contacted by Star Wars Writer and Head of Fan Relations Pete Vilmur. He said that Scott's 1977 pictures were noteworthy because Lucasfilm had a poster from a similar event at Walt Disney World in 1980 but the pictures on Walt Dated World were the only proof they had that an event had taken place there in 1977!
Pete wrote a story about the first "Star Wars Weekend" for the starwars.com website a little over a year later in late May of 2009 but the link has since been removed. If anyone has a copy of that story I'd love to see it again (even though it lists the old website address for Walt Dated World).
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See ya real soon!