I have a 5 year old Jedi in Training in my home. He is obsessed with all things Star Wars. We have Star Wars Lego’s scattered throughout the basement. The movies are common weekend watching (his favorite is New Hope). Bedtime stories involve Han Solo and Obi Wan. I am also a weekend widow to the Star Wars Wii games. As a mom to two boys and a wife to a Star Wars nut, I expected this one day.
So while planning our most recent trip to Disney World , I heard rumors of the Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios. I have to say it’s not really publicized in a lot of travel books or sites. It’s not even on the park map! I had to search quite a few places to get the general idea before we left on our trip. From my research, I found that you needed to book a time slot and the key is to be at the park first thing and head right to the sign up location.
“A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY…”
Our plan of attack based on Touringplans.com crowd calendar is to go mid-week, the slowest day during our trip. We arrived at gate opening, but we were near the back of the massive crowd entering the park. Jedi Training Academy sign up is in the Sounds Dangerous Building before you reach the Star Wars section of the park. There is a sign out front directing you inside. By the time we reached the sign up, it was 20 minutes after park opening and there was a long line. On a first come-first serve basis boys and girls, ages 4-12 are assigned a 30 minute window for their Jedi Training. To our surprise, despite our early arrival and a small park crowd, we had to wait until the 7:10 pm show.
“ONLY A SITH LORD DEALS IN ABSOLUTES”
Ok, we have a wrench in our carefully made plans. This was ALL our little Padawan wanted to do. So we rode Star Tours half a dozen times, did the Disney Jr. show, hung out at Honey I Shrunk the Kids, bought a ton of stuff at Tatooine Traders and had lunch at Pizza Planet. Despite a grumpy 1 year old and an impatient 5 year old we decided to sneak over to Downtown Disney. We planned for a stop at (where else) the LEGO store, and an early dinner reservation at TREX.
Finally it was THE time! We arrived 30 minutes prior to our time slot, as instructed. My husband took our son into the waiting area where they were quizzed on their knowledge of Star Wars. Does anyone know how Han Solo got the Millennium Falcon from Lando? My son does! (Sorry, proud, chest swelling moment) Meanwhile I staked out a seat by the stage, which is located near the AT-AT and Star Tours.
“I WANT TO LEARN THE FORCE AND BECOME A JEDI, LIKE MY FATHER”
In walked our little guy with a group of about 10 kids wearing a brown Jedi robe over his favorite Darth Vader T-Shirt. Out walks a Jedi Master to explain the training to the kids and go over some lightsaber ”moves”. Each child is given a standard issue, battery operated, toy lightsaber. Then out of the doors behind them comes Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers. They challenge the younglings to join the Dark Side. One by one each child is brought forth to face Darth Vader as he asks for their allegiance. They spar with the Evil Lord Vader until he declares them unfit to become part of the Empire.The Duel
“NO MORE TRAINING DO YOU REQUIRE. ALREADY KNOW THAT WHICH YOU NEED”
>With a sweep of his cloak, Darth Vader escapes from the stage, followed by his bumbling Storm Troopers. After praise from their Jedi Master and declaring an oath, each child is now a Padawan learner in the Jedi Training Academy. They receive their certificates and can return to their proud parents in the crowd.
“TRULY WONDERFUL THE MIND OF A CHILD IS”
I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. My son was so happy and beside himself with excitement. For days he told anyone who would listen about his fight with Darth Vader, and recited verbatim the dialogue they exchanged. It was worth the hassle and the late night. After all, Disney is about the smile on your kids face.
“DON’T GET COCKY KID”
Few things to know…
- Be at the park gates WAY before opening to guarantee you are one of the first to enter the park. We got lucky as it was supposedly a “slow” day. You MUST bring your child with you to sign up. If it helps leave the rest of the family behind at the resort to get yourself there early enough.
- Don’t make the promise to your child they will be doing Jedi Training. After all, you may not get a slot and I saw more than one meltdown outside the building.
- Bring your video camera. The dialogue is pretty humorous in a hokey sort of way. Plus your child will want to watch their moment over and over again.
- PhotoPass Photographers will be taking pictures of your child during the performance. You will receive a “Master” PhotoPass card with all the pictures they took. Bring the pass to the Cover Story Photo Store by the exit and they will use facial recognition to put only your child’s pictures on your own PhotoPass card.
- May the Force be With You! I promise its worth it in the end.
- Star Wars Weekends 2012 Maps (chipandco.com)
- Jedi Tips For Disney Trips: Star Wars Weekends Part 1 (jedimouseketeer.blogspot.com)