Yesterland

Watto’s Grotto

Streets of America
Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Watto has a grotto, and you’re about to enter it. You might be asking, “Who is Watto?”


Watto is a Star Wars character introduced in Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). He has the nose of an elephant seal, the feet of a frog, and wings disproportionate to his body size. According to Disney’s official Star Wars website:

Watto was a Toydarian junk dealer in Mos Espa who bought Shmi Skywalker and her son Anakin from Gardulla the Hutt. An inveterate gambler, he sponsored Anakin in several Podraces, but often bet against his own slave, who was talented but inexperienced. Watto lost Anakin to Qui-Gon Jinn in a wager on the Boonta Eve race. Years later, he sold Shmi to the moisture farmer Cliegg Lars.

If you’re a real Star Wars fan, you already knew that. If not, it probably makes no sense.

What really matters is that Watto and Grotto rhyme—more or less, depending on the region where you live—and that this is a store, not an actual grotto. Watto sells things, both in the movie and at the store.

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Directions on a steel girder

Head to the Studio Catering Co. and look for the steel girder with the directional arrow. Despite the angle of the arrow, you only have to go left, not up.

Watto’s Grotto is off the beaten path. This corner of the park was busier when the Studio Backlot Tour ended outside the building, but that was before Watto’s Grotto existed.

Look for the T-47 Airspeeder in the landscaping. That will mean you’ve arrived.

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

T-47 Airspeeder from The Empire Strikes Back

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Door to Watto’s Grotto next to the T-47 Airspeeder

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

The more stylish sliding door entrance to Watto’s Grotto

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

T-shirts, mugs, and toys

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Star Wars props to give the store some Star Wars atmosphere

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Plenty of floor space

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Very few customers

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Star Wars fashion

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

“Build and customize your own lightsaber”

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

For fans of Kylo Ren

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Vinylmation, of course

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookie Cookies
and
DK Readers L1: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: New Adventures

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Dooney & Bourke Star Wars purse, $268

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Star Wars boxer shorts

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

C3PO Women’s Flats

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

BB-8 Rice Krispies Treats

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Rice Krispies Treats, ingredients and nutrition

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Checkout counter

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Lonely cast member waiting for guests in the empty store

Visiting Watto’s Grotto is not the most exciting Star Wars experience.

Too bad there’s not a time machine here. The site of Watto’s Grotto will be part of a spectacular Star Wars experience in the not-too-distant future.


The version of Watto’s Grotto shown in this Yesterland article opened in early September 2015 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There had been previous Watto’s Grotto pop-up stores during Star Wars Weekends at the park.

Air Speeder at Star Tours, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Chris Bales, 2000

T-47 Airspeeder, when it was at Star Tours

AFI Showcase at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Chris Bales, 2000

AFI Showcase

The T-47 Airspeeder at the entrance to Watto’s Grotto had originally been in front of Star Tours at the same park.

From 1996 to 2014, the building had been home to the American Film Institute (AFI) Showcase and the Showcase Shop. The large exhibit building at end of the Studio Backlot Tour housed several different AFI exhibits over the years.

The building wasn’t being used for anything else, and it was scheduled to be demolished in 2016. It made sense to use the empty building for Star Wars merchandise, even though it was much bigger than it needed to be and Tatooine Traders was at the other end of the street.

Watto’s Grotto at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2018

Future entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from Grand Avenue

Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed permanently April 2, 2016, for the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

And that was also the end of Watto’s Grotto.


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Updated May 3, 2019.