Magic Shots Have Replaced Characters at This Disney World Photo Op

Star Wars Launch Bay
Credit: Disney

For many Guests visiting Disney World, meeting their favorite characters is a major part of their vacation. And with plenty of places to stop for a photo with beloved characters around all four Disney Parks, along with character dining experiences, cavalcades, parades, and live entertainment, there is no shortage of ways to see your favorites.

Still, one former meet and greet has been operating as a simplified photo op with a Magic Shot in a move that may be disappointing if you have enjoyed this character experience in the past.

hollywood studios entrance sunset

Credit: Disney

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to some of the most unique character meet and greets at Walt Disney World. In fact, this Park is the only place on property where Guests can meet Sorcerer Mickey, Olaf from Frozen (2013), several characters from The Incredibles (2004), Max as Powerline from A Goofy Movie (1995), and a variety of familiar faces from Star Wars, to name a few.

As you might expect, many of the aforementioned Star Wars characters can be found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including First Order Stormtroopers, Kylo Ren, Rey, and Vi Moradi, along with the recent addition of the Mandalorian and Grogu. But Batuu is not the only place in this Disney Park to see characters from “a galaxy far, far away.”


Credit: Disney Photo Snapper

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Star Wars Launch Bay is located in Animation Courtyard, away from Black Spire Outpost, in a location that offers character meet and greets, a short film, and exhibits all about the Star Wars universe. Meet and greets at this location include Chewbacca, BB-8, Darth Vader, and an extra photo op for Disney Visa cardholders.

For several years, Guests who showed their Chase Disney Visa card at Star Wars Launch Bay were able to take advantage of an additional character meet and greet experience, often with either Kylo Ren or Darth Vader, though it was always a surprise. In more recent years, however, the Disney Visa character experience has been replaced with a Magic Shot, allowing Guests to pose by themselves and have Star Wars characters magically appear on their photos later.

You can take a look at the Magic Shots, which feature Stormtroopers and K-2SO in this 2021 trip to Hollywood Studios with Attractions Magazine:

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Magic Shots were used in place of real characters at this Disney Visa exclusive location and the one in EPCOT (and at Disney California Adventure for those on the West Coast) earlier in the pandemic when character meet and greets were still not available at the theme parks. In the years since, characters have returned to other locations, but not to Star Wars: Launch Bay.

As of this writing, Disney Visa’s official website still makes the distinction between the EPCOT photo op being a “Character Experience” and Hollywood Studios offering a “Magic Shot.” Of course, if the characters have returned to other meet and greets-turned Magic Shots, it stands to reason that they could still come back to Star Wars Launch Bay.

Disney has not confirmed any changes to the Star Wars photo op over the past couple of years, however, and it is worth noting that the persistent Magic Shot offering comes on the heels of more automated PhotoPass boxes replacing Cast Members at meet and greet locations. Moreover, some fans have speculated that the technology showcased at this year’s SXSW event could have the potential to replace live characters, too.

Hopefully, this Disney Visa photo op is just one of the last outliers of the pandemic-era changes, and we will see characters return to Launch Bay soon. As always, we will continue to keep you updated on the changes to character lineups around Walt Disney World here on Disney Tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."