The Force is strong among Star Wars fans at Hong Kong Disneyland

By YP junior reporter Sophie Mak

The first-ever Star Wars fan parade here was held at Hong Kong Disneyland on July 27, and YP junior reporter Sophie Mak was invited to check it out

By YP junior reporter Sophie Mak |

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Storm troopers and Darth Vader march at the Star Wars parade at the Hong Kong Disneyland.

More than 110 Star Wars enthusiasts came together last month to take part in the sci-fi franchise's first fan parade in Hong Kong, ahead of the release of the seventh episode in December this year.

Darth Vader, Padmé Amidala, R2-D2, Stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire, rebels, and many other characters paraded along Hong Kong Disneyland's Main Street.

The crowds cheered and snapped photos as their favourite characters marched by and John Williams' famous theme song blared out of the speakers.

Leading the parade were local celebrities Shiga Lin, best known for her hit album Movin' On, and Pakho Chau, known for his single My Vow. The pop-singing pair threw themselves into the festivities by dressing in long, flowing Jedi robes and carrying brightly-lit Lightsabers, attracting the attention of excited tourists and media alike.

Younger fans also joined in the celebration. At least two children were spotted dressed up as heroes Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, upping the "awww"-factor.

All those who participated in the parade belong either to the Rebel Legions or 501st Legion, two volunteer organisations formed by diehard fans to bring like-minded enthusiasts together.

Thanks to the two groups, fans can share their hobbies and promote Star Wars fandom. Membership involves designing high-quality costume tributes to show off at events like these, while admiring each other's cosplaying talents.

To be eligible to join the Legions, fans are required to own a high-quality costume of any Star Wars character. This ensures that participants are completely devoted to the cause.

Sci-fi sewing skills

All of the impressive costumes worn in the parade were home-made and many looked even more detailed and costly than the ones used in the movies.

The shiny white suits of the Imperial Stormtroopers, Darth Vader's sleek, commanding outfit, and Padmé Amidala's classic bun hairstyle all stood testament to the fans' devotion.

Storm troopers and Darth Vader march at the Star Wars parade at the Hong Kong Disneyland.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

Shawn Truesdell, from Indonesia, is known as the tallest Darth Vader in Asia.

When asked why he wanted to dress up as the iconic villain, the 1.9-metre-tall fan explained: "I chose Darth Vader because growing up he was the most iconic character.

"He was very much a bad guy, but the story of his salvation and being good again is great."

Another participant recreated a life-size replica of the helpful droid, R2-D2, which is operated by remote control.

It took Tiny Panganiban from the Philippines more than seven years to assemble the whole model.

"The most challenging part is finding the money to build it. Building R2-D2 has cost more than US$35,000," said Tiny, demonstrating how serious dedication requires both emotional and financial commitment.

Fun for all involved

The event was a resounding success, but some participants complained that the 15-minute parade simply wasn't long enough.

Anna Yamana, from Japan, said: "It was just too fast, I wish we could walk around another time."

Nevertheless, everyone agreed that being able to take part in the parade was a rare opportunity, and one that they'll remember for a long time to come.

Truesdell summed up the day's events by saying: "It was an enthusiastic crowd, we are very happy to be here. We just want to thank Disney for bringing all the Star Wars fans here to Hong Kong."

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in cinemas on December 17