Tag Archives: Jedi Training Academy

MYWTM Greatest Hits

Every good band needs a greatest hits album*. Even the ones where you buy the “greatest hits” album and you have never heard of 3/4 of them and truly wonder what the standard is for “greatest” or “hits.”

*(yes, album. I mean, practically nobody buys CDs anymore either so we might as well go back to the original terminology, because it sounds all hipster-y retro)

Anyway, I’ve added a bunch of new readers lately (welcome!!) and I know it’s difficult to sit down and read an entire 6 months worth of past entries, so I’ve compiled a list of some of my most popular posts. Enjoy! Or enjoy again, if you’ve already read them!

Star Tours: The Adventure Continues…in which I describe rather frenetically what it was like to preview this totally awesome new ride (or I should say, new version of this ride).

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey…in which I forever traumatize my young son by forgetting how weird the story is and how terrifying the actual ride is.

My Awkward Social Situation…one of my earliest posts in which I describe how becoming a blogger also inexplicably turned me into a pathological liar.

It’s Snack Time–Popcorn and Churros!…in which I lay down an extremely compelling argument (or not) for eating these amazingly scrumptious treats. Especially churros.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh…the search terms people use to find this one are a little disturbing.

The Little Mermaid–Ariel’s Undersea Adventure…climb into your clam shell and take a brief ride through this newest of Disney California Adventure attractions.

Fruit Carts, Lockers, and a Surprise!..in which I write about the fruit cart, lockers, and a surprise on Main Street.

Jedi Training Academy Part 1–Selection and Training…kind of self-explanatory, but wondering how you can get your kid into the Jedi Training Academy? Try my tips here. And you should check out Jedi Training Academy Part 2: Confronting the Dark Side as well.

Wonder where you can catch a Princess for a meet and greet that isn’t crowded? Try the Castle Secret Passages Part 1: Frontierland and Part 2: Tomorrowland.

Have you ever taken some time to just Look Up?

Okay loyal readers–what are some of YOUR favorite entries? Leave a note in the comments!





Jedi Training Academy Part 2: Confronting the Dark Side

Be sure to read Part 1: Selection and Training, before proceeding with this post, particularly if you’re looking for tips on how to get chosen for the Jedi Training Academy.

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? Everyone turn on their John Williams albums… (no, seriously, if you’re a Star Wars and/or John Williams fan, you need to watch that video) and settle in. The Dark Side awaits.

We last left our well-trained Padawans gathering by the side of the stage as the Imperial March echoed through the terrace. Then much to everyone’s surprise (not really), the stage, in a slow-motion smoke-filled dramatic manner, rises and our intrepid enemy appears.

I can admit it, the Star Wars geek in me squeals a little every time I see this

The main Jedi Master kind of stands there and tries to have a reasonable conversation with Vader, who must be really hot–but wait, actually the real Darth Vader’s cut little outfit breathed for him so I’m assuming that was air conditioned–surely Disneyland’s version is as well.

Or maybe there’s a reason why you don’t see him around the park signing autographs in July (or any other month, for that matter–what a bummer!)

Vader blows off the Jedi Master to have a little chitchat with our newly-minted trainees.

Whatever, Jedi Master dude, I'm talking to these kids myself.

Now I’m actually going to backtrack a second and insert an earlier picture because I want to talk about something I actually only noticed this time. You can see here that the kids have already been roughly separated into two lines, one across the front of the stage and one up the stairs. Darth Maul will come out in a second (god Shelby, talk about ruining the surprise!) and when the fighting starts, half the group will go on stage to fight Vader and the other half will stay on the ground and fight Maul.

Here’s the previous picture.

They're like little brown-robed sheep!

This is where the Jedi Masters are separating the kids into lines. Prior to this viewing I had thought it was roughly random, but it’s actually really not. All of the bigger kids are lined up to fight Maul, while the little ones go on stage with Vader (I keep wanting to call him Darth, but they’re both Darths. That must get awkward at cocktail parties). Additionally, the less confident kids and the smallest kids are placed at the ends of the lines. Since Anderson was having some trouble with his light saber earlier, he missed some of the training practice. They placed him second-to-last in the Vader line. I thought this was a brilliant move, because it gave him a chance to see the “fight” several times before it was his turn, and I think it really helped him.

And as far as Vader vs. Maul, I have to say that Darth Maul is actually really scary. And I’m saying that as an adult. He is very intimidating and his mask is just effin’ terrifying. He is very menacing on the floor. And while Vader is scary too, to a little kid, he’s more iconic, easily recognized, less like a human, and just less frightening all the way around. I’m positive that’s why they send the older and bigger kids up against Maul and the little ones to Vader.

And speaking of Maul…

Late to the party, as usual. What? You had trouble finding a sitter too? Riiiiiiiiight.

Maul jumps off the stage and terrorizes the audience a bit.

I'll get you, my pretty--and your little dog, too!

Also, Maul’s light saber is double-ended, which makes him simultaneously really scary and completely badass.

Bring it, Jedi

As I said, the kids go up individually to battle their respective Darth. And also as I said, because repeating myself is awesome, Anderson was at the end of his line. The kids sitting down have already finished their battle.

Okay, ONE of us has got to take this guy out

By the time it was Anderson’s turn, he looked a LOT more confident. Here he gets his final pre-battle briefing.

Remember your training, young Padawan, and be sure to tell Mommy she can pick up the souvenir photo at the store on Main Street

Anderson doesn’t even waver as he bravely faces off Vader.

OMG, he's so little and cute!!!

Let the duel commence!

I seriously love everything about this picture

He actually let go of the light saber with one hand and was going at Vader tennis racket-style, so the Jedi Master paused to remind him to use both hands. Rather than taking the opportunity to chop off his hand, Vader obligingly waited until Anderson was in battle shape again.

Both hands, now. Hate to lose one. Bad form.

The battle recommenced, but…


One more tip from the Jedi Master and Anderson is ready for the leg cut

It kind of looks like Vader is golfing here

And the final move–head shot!

Go Anderson! Great job!

And as you have likely noticed, the Jedi Master was right there with his light saber deployed to block any errant saber swoops from either side.

I’ll back you up another time too to point out a fun effect they did. About halfway through, they selected one of the kids–one of the particularly confident-looking ones–to use the Force against the Storm Troopers. They had him hold out his hand and a Storm Trooper stumbled backwards like he’d been hit. Then they did the other one, and then they did both.

This was adorable too

After all of the hand-to-hand combat was done, the Padawans gathered at the side of the stage and Vader came over to try one last convincing argument to turn them to the Dark Side.

"Come to the Dark Side--we have cookies!"

No way, no how, SeƱor Vader.

Just don't swing those around, okay?

And then Maul comes over to try to convince them too, but he can’t speak and let’s be honest, he just doesn’t have the persuasive kind of personality that Vader does.

Darth Maul isn't what you might call a "people-pleaser"

Completely rebuffed, they march back to their moving platform on stage with Vader doing his dramatic cape-swooping thing that’s like the ultimate walking off in a huff maneuver.

Fine. Be that way.

The Imperial March fires up again as Vader and Maul descend into the abyss, probably to get a much-needed drink of ice water.

"I'll be back." Oh wait, wrong movie.

Our victorious Padawans are lined up against the stage again. I mean, it’s no Rebel Alliance celebration like Luke Skywalker got, but close.

Right this way, kids.

They get one final pep talk about always using the Force for good and don’t join the Dark Side and drink your milk.

Drugs are bad, mmkay?

Then they turn around to face the audience for one final picture. Unfortunately, I think Anderson didn’t hear him when they said to turn, so I didn’t get a picture of his face, but he’s still adorable.

"Parents, stay where you are and let your kids come to you. Otherwise we're seriously talking mass chaos"

I was incredibly proud of both Theo and Annika (known troublemakers, the pair of them), who stayed seated and watched the entire show!

Kristin, I would like you to know that despite the fact that Audrey tried to bite my kid, I forgive you

The kids turned in their robes and got their Jedi Training Academy diplomas. Anderson was immensely proud

Who faught Darth Vader? Oh yeah, that was me.

and goofy


It wasn’t until after we rode Small World that I remembered to take a picture of Anderson and his actual diploma.

One proud kid.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Jedi Training Academy.

Jedi Training Academy Part 1: Selection and Training

***This information is for the JTA at Disneyland park in California. The selection process at Walt Disney World is different***

I have some great childhood memories of Disneyland and there were lots of cool things there at that time (bring back the Skyway!), but I am deeply, deeply envious of any child who gets to participate in the Jedi Training Academy.

If there were some kind of "get younger" pill, I would totally go back to age 6 and hit up the Jedi Training Academy.

I would, in fact, be willing to trade the Skyway for the Jedi Training Academy. Alas…

The Jedi Training Academy is a show that takes place on the Tomorrowland Terrace–a stage in front of the quick service restaurant also known as the Tomorrowland Terrace. And it’s all in (wait for it, wait for it…) Tomorrowland.

All is quiet, but I can sense the power of the Dark Side here. Can you?

The JTA happens generally about 6 times a day, morning and afternoon. Children from the ages of 4 to 12 are “randomly selected” from the audience and get Jedi robes and light sabers. They then learn a fighting routine and take the Jedi Oath, and then Darth Vader and Darth Maul and a couple of Storm Troopers show up and each kid battles one of the Darths directly until they are defeated. “Awesome!” you say.

I know, right?????????

Anyway, since Theo is too young for the JTA and I am ever-so-slightly too old, I was forced to borrow a child for this blog entry. I hit the park with Kristin, formerly known as the mother who left her two children at preschool in order to ride The Little Mermaid before it was open to the public. Anderson is one of those two children, and I think we made it up to him with the Jedi Training Academy.

I’ve watched the JTA a couple of times to see if I could crack the code of who gets chosen and who doesn’t. The number one thing I noticed were that some kids were carrying signs, and I have never seen a child with a sign not get chosen. Disneyland won’t let you bring in a giant sign, and some of the signs other kids had were just scribbled with a ballpoint pen on a piece of paper and they seemed to work too. However, because I had some time and was coming from home, I made a sign for Anderson this morning. I was also surprised to find that my computer has a Star Wars-esque font installed. Who knew?

I don’t think it really matters what your sign says, but of course I had to go for the humor.

Color or do not color. There is no try.

I arrived at the JTA stage earlier than Kristin, primarily because Kristin left her annual pass in her husband’s car and spent a bunch of time running around looking for it and then sweet-talking guest services into giving her a day pass, which apparently you can do once. Anyway, arriving early is another key to getting a good spot. It wasn’t really crowded today but I’ve seen the stage area get PACKED. I’d say arrive about 30 minutes before the posted showtime. Today it didn’t really start to fill up until about 15 minutes prior, but I’d still stake out a spot near the front earlier.

We got Anderson all set to go with Theo there next to him. I wasn’t sure that Theo would sit through the entire show (as opposed to jumping up and trying to participate in the middle of it) but he actually did really well.

The blazing sun was RIGHT in their faces. Bad seating choice, Shelby.

There were only a couple other kids with signs. We were also way off to the side of the stage and got chosen anyway, so they do take a good look around.

Other hopeful Jedi

Two Jedi Masters come out and start selecting kids. Now I think I’ll summarize all this at the bottom, but there definitely seems to be some kids who get chosen more quickly than others (if at all). Poor Anderson was pretty much baking in the sun by the time they came out so he wasn’t the most enthusiastic kid out there, but he was the third child chosen.

Woo hoo! Go Anderson!

So in addition to holding signs, the other kids who got chosen tended to be the most enthusiastic, particularly when everyone else’s enthusiasm seemed to wane. There are actually 24 children chosen, but it starts to look full before it is, so the kids who kept cheering did well. I had heard that wearing a Star Wars or Jedi Training Academy shirt or hat helped, but I actually saw a few kids with Star Wars clothes not get chosen and most of the kids who were chosen were not particularly theme-dressed. I don’t know that it tipped the balance either way, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. Because wearing Star Wars clothing is just cool anyway.

All right, scroll down for the summary of that at the end.

Okay, so the kids get chosen and dressed up and are then assigned a circle to stand on. This keeps everyone nice and spaced out so nobody gets beaned accidentally.

I'm sorry, but this is just adorable

Like I said, Anderson was the third child chosen so he had to stand there a while. The Jedi Masters then explained what was going to happen.

Darth Vader is bad, we're going to use the Force to defeat him, don't forget to pick up your souvenir photograph

Next they hand out the light sabers.

Sadly, not real light sabers

The light sabers were the telescoping plastic ones. Anderson had a little bit of difficulty with his at first because you had to press a button and hold it down while flicking the saber toward the ground, and I think he had trouble coordinating that.

The Jedi Masters were great at helping the kids figure it all out

The Jedi Masters then demonstrate the battle sequence, which went something like right shoulder, left shoulder, duck, left leg, right leg, head shot. They practiced this a couple of times.

Don't you hate it when people walk into your pictures?

Much to my pleasure, Theo was sitting patiently, holding the sign and watching the show. When baby Audrey leaned in to take a bit out of his head, he shared part of his bagel.

Not everyone was happy about not being chosen

With the training complete, the young Jedi headed over to the side of the stage.

I am seriously jealous of each and every single one of these children

At which point we move into the second part of the show, the battle!

Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh--you know, sing it or whatever

I know, I hate to do this to you, but I need to eat dinner and there’s a whole bunch more pictures so I’m going to cut this one off and call it Part 1.

But first, I’ll give a roundup of what I’ve personally witnessed in getting chosen for the Jedi Training Academy. As I said above, having a sign seems to really help. Having Star Wars clothing didn’t seem to help or hurt, but why not because it’s cool. I did notice a lot of kids in bright, solid colored t-shirts get chosen. The Jedi Masters say things like “The Padawan in the yellow shirt” rather than “The Padawan in the garish plaid what were your parents thinking?” So wear an easily-identifiable shirt or hat. Most of the volunteers were boys, but they did make it a point to pick girls, and I’d even say that a girl has a better than average chance of being chosen (sorry guys), particularly the enthusiastic ones. I have also heard and seen that siblings who are dressed alike (matching shirts) tend to get chosen as a pair. It seems that they don’t want to split up families, so if you’ve got two, make it very clear that they’re together.

Along the lines of enthusiasm, I also think it helps if the parents/family is also very loud and cheering. They want a lot of crowd involvement, and if your kid already has his or her own cheering section, they seem to like that.

Also, it says that the Training Academy is for kids 4-12 but to be honest, I’ve never seen a kid who looked older than about 8 or 9 be picked. They really do go for little ones.

I will warn you–this is kind of the unfair part, but…

There was also a kid right behind Anderson who came with his own light saber and seemed older (10 maybe?) and he did NOT get chosen. And I’ve actually seen that before. I know it seems counter-intuitive because it would seem like they would want to choose the real fans (as demonstrated by those showing up with their own weapons or in full regalia) but the boy today was very obviously overlooked–he was right behind Anderson and was tall, and both Anderson and a boy next to him were chosen. (The light saber’s mother was rather rudely pissed off after the selection). I’m sure there will be many thoughts on this, but I do have a theory. They have the kids enter into a fake battle with the Darths and they want them to do the specific set of moves they train which the Darths can then block. I think they are concerned that the older kids with their own light sabers are going to freelance in battle, and that can cause real problems. I will say I did see a slightly older kid in full Padawan regalia get chosen one time and he did grandstand and show off some light saber flipping and spinning skills when he wasn’t supposed to during the show (and was warned twice). I’m not going to say it’s nice or fair (it’s really not), but I really do think they try to avoid kids who are older and look like they may take it a little too seriously and go off-script. So I really do recommend leaving the personal light saber at home or at the hotel. I wouldn’t totally despair if your child is on the older side, but I’d leave the light saber at home and prep them to be enthusiastic but agreeable.

That said, here’s Shelby’s Guide to the Jedi Training Academy:

  1. Bring a sign
  2. Act enthusiastic, especially when it seems to die down a little. Jumping up and down really helps.
  3. Enthusiastic parents seem to help. Hold your kid up if you’re in the back.
  4. Wear a Star Wars shirt (no guarantee) or another brightly-colored, easily-identifiable shirt or hat
  5. Dress your children the same if you have more than one (more than two I’d split into different groups)
  6. Leave your own light saber at home

If you don’t happen to have a sign–don’t despair! Be brave and ask the parents of a child who was chosen if you can have their sign for the next show. I don’t think they care if they see the same sign twice. I passed ours on to a family when I overheard them saying that they were going to try again at the next show. And if you do bring a sign, share the love when you’re done!

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