Sunday, September 6, 2015

Our FORCE FRIDAY Experience

Disney officially kicked off the countdown to the highly anticipated December theatrical release of the Star Wars movie sequel, The Force Awakens, by having the apparel, books, novelties, toys and other merchandise tied to the film released to the public at the stroke of midnight on Friday, September 4, 2015 as part of a marketing promotion dubbed FORCE FRIDAY.   This was an opportunity for kids and kids-at-heart to have some fun celebrating their enjoyment of all things Star Wars as fans young and old are all eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Star Wars saga.  My kids are so excited that we'll be able to go together in December to see a brand new Star Wars movie for the first time together at a theater.  Since enjoying Star Wars stories and toys together have provided so many memorable bonding opportunities, I decided to make sure my children and I had some fun together on FORCE FRIDAY.

So at 11pm on Thursday evening my daughter and I headed over to a nearby Toys-R-Us to be there for the store's special FORCE FRIDAY midnight opening.  I tried to get my son to join us but even the "force" wouldn't have awakened him from his slumber that night.  Unfortunately, I knew the moment we got out of the car in the Toys-R-Us parking lot that we probably wouldn't be seeing many of the new toys that night.  You see the first twenty or so people waiting in the line that was forming outside the store were single adult men that appeared to range from the mid-thirties to fifties in age.  We got in line behind them and were quickly joined by several other groups of parents who had also brought kids along which made our wait for the store doors to open fly by as everyone in our cluster of families shared stories about their favorite Star Wars moments.  My daughter had everyone chuckling as she described scenes from the Star Wars: Rebels animated television show while doing an impersonation of Yoda's voice.  "Powerful in the force you have become Ezra but foresee Vader cut off your head I do."  Hmmm....maybe she's seen that show's Season 2 Teaser Trailer a few too many times.

So at the tick of Midnight, FORCE FRIDAY had arrived and the line began moving into the building.  From outside looking in through the store's windows, we witnessed the men at the front of the line grabbing shopping carts and running as fast as they could out of our field of view.  As our group of parents and children made our way back to the designated toy aisle we were passed by these grown men who had filled their carts to the brink of overflowing and were heading to the cashiers.  They had swiped up almost everything and left a bunch of empty shelves for everyone else.  Looking at the despair in some of the kids eyes around me in not being able to grab action figures and other toys they had looked forward to staying up late to get  I was really embarrassed to be standing there as a forty year old Star Wars fan.  With this story in mind, if you see Star Wars toys for sale on eBay please don't buy them because it only fuels this kind of sad behavior.

While these "collectors" behavior put a damper on the start of FORCE FRIDAY, our time at Toys-R-Us wasn't entirely ruined.  We had great conversations with some wonderful families in line, met Geoffrey the Giraffe, and picked up some free Star Wars posters and LEGO bricks for my son and daughter.  Best of all my daughter told me on the way home that she wasn't bummed about not getting any new toys because she had a fun and exciting late night adventure with her daddy.  That my friends is what FORCE FRIDAY is all about!

After getting some sleep, I took my son and daughter on some back-to-school errands later in the morning.  As we were out and about, we stopped by the Disney Store to check out what they had going on for FORCE FRIDAY.  Amazingly, we had the store all to ourselves.  There was an interactive activity set up and the whole store staff joined my kids in acting out a Star Wars adventure.

It started off with Imperial stormtroopers approaching and saying my children were "the kids they were looking for."  Using a Jedi Mind Trick though my son and daughter were able to get the troopers to say "These aren't the kids we are looking for" and let them move on.

Next they had to use the Force to raise Luke Skywalker's X-wing fighter out of the swamp of Dagobah.  No sweat they got that done with a wave of their hands.

The adventure wrapped up with having to pretend you were an X-wing fighter with the mission of blowing up the Death Star.  Upon completing the mission, my children were awarded a cardboard cutout medal of honor like the ones Luke Skywalker and Han Solo received after blowing up the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  Plus they were given some inflatable light sabers, Topps trading cards, and stickers to take home with them.  I have to say the giggles I heard while they were going on their Star Wars adventure at the Disney Store and the smiles on their faces as we left with a bunch of free swag really made my day and wiped that nonsense that occurred at Toys R Us from my mind.

We stopped by the LEGO Store which is next door to the Disney Store to check out the new Star Wars themed LEGO sets which had just been released.  Wow! the new Millennium Falcon LEGO set is impressive, most impressive!  While we were window shopping, the staff came up to my children and provided them with some cardboard X-wing fighter pilot helmets and stickers to decorate them with.  Plus my son was given a Darth Vader LEGO mini-figure key chain and my daughter got a Princess Leia version.  We also left the store with some posters promoting the animated mini-series on the Disney XD cable channel called LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales.  As my kids raced out of the store wearing their X-wing fighter helmets and battling each other with light  sabers, I knew the Force was with us that morning.

You could look at FORCE FRIDAY as a marketing gimmick or an opportunity to buy some stuff, but I used it as a chance to have a memorable moment spending some time with my kids.  There are only so many times you can run around a mall waving a light saber around care free in life.  FORCE FRIDAY was one of those times.

Our FORCE FRIDAY experience didn't completely wrap up just yet though.  While on our Saturday morning grocery trip we stopped by Target and my kids had a chance to try out some of the new Star Wars toys that were put out on display.  We had a chance to get a photo op with Chewbacca which totally caught my son off guard when the cutout figure roared at him. You have to check that out if you stop by the store!  On the way out, the kids got one last freebie as they were handed free Star Wars #ShareTheForce lunchboxes from some nice Target staff members.

That was our FORCE FRIDAY experience.  Did you participate in any of the FORCE FRIDAY events or promotions?  So who is ready now for The Force Awakens?!  You know my family is going to be counting down the days until December 18th!

No comments:

Post a Comment