December 11, 2012

Jedi Training Academy


2013 UPDATE: The Jedi Training academy has expanded. It now can accommodate twice the number of children as the show has expanded beyond the stage to a roped off area in front-generally the children below the stage on circles on the ground are taller and older. Also, Darth Maul has been added to the show!


Hollywood Studios' Jedi Training Academy is one of the most exciting (and FREE) extras you can add to your next Disney World vacation. It started as something only offered during Disney's famed Star Wars Weekend (now held annually in late spring) but was so popular it has become a regular daily treat on par with Magic Kingdom's Pirate's League.

The 30 minute show gives children ages 4-12 the chance to become Padawans. A Jedi Master trains the young ones the way of the force and after taking the Jedi Oath and a quick light saber tutorial, they're put to the test when Darth Vader and two Stormtroopers arrive. Vader attempts to lure the children to the dark side.


*side note: Vader's dialogue is all pre-recorded and has changed over the years. At one point he would tell the children who to join him by coming forward and kneeling before him until apparently, one adorable little girl actually did...Cast Members told us that Vader had to walk away in the moment for fear of breaking character. Now, the script is less inclined to allow children to turn to the dark side and the Jedi Master seems well equipped to battle any such inclinations.



The Padawan students must resist the Dark Side and prove themselves against Vader with the help of their Jedi Master. They each, one by one defeat him by following a series of steps the Jedi Master teaches. After Vader and his Stormtroopers are forced to leave, the children each receive great praise from their Jedi Master as well as a Jedi certificate before they pose for a group photo and return both the robes and light sabers. 




Where To Go:

The show itself is held on a stage next to the newly renovated Star Tours attraction in Hollywood Studios but sign up is at the ABC Sound Studio (where the old Sounds Dangerous show used to be). There is only same day sign up for the Jedi Tutorial so advanced reservations of any kind are not a possibility. Also, be sure to BRING YOUR CHILD to the sign up area AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. There are usually 15 shows a day but only 15 children are permitted per show and shows for the entire day can fill up by 10am (earlier even during the busiest times of year). You must bring your child to the sign up-even if you are signing them up at 9am for a 4:10pm show because a cast member must ask them questions in order to ascertain that they are capable of following directions for their own safety and to be sure that the child is the one wanting to do the show and not being forced into it by a parent. 




Once you have signed your child up, return to the sign up area 30 mins prior to their assigned showtime. ONE parent or adult may stay there with the child while everyone else must leave (it's a small area so too many family members waiting around wouldn't be comfortable) but it works out great because it gives everyone the chance to get a good spot in front of the stage while the children are given basic directions. About 10 minutes before the show the children are lined up and marched to the stage for the performance.




Photos:

Most parents will take pictures or video themselves but Disney will (almost always-although I've never heard of a show where they didn't) have a Photopass Photographer there taking photos of the whole experience. At the end of the show, simply get a card from the photographer but keep in mind, that card will have pictures of EVERY child that participated in that specific show. It's a good idea, particularly if you plan to buy the Photopass CD (we recommend it if you can afford it) to take the Jedi Photopass card to one of the photopass locations and have just the images you want transferred to another card. 

Souvenirs and Extras:

Star Tours, which has a 40" height requirement, is next to the Jedi Training Academy Stage along with the souvenir shop, Tatooine Traders where children can build their own light saber, buy one pre-made and even pick up a genuine Star Wars Padawan robe just like the one they use in the show.


May the force be with you.