March 07, 2008

Jedi Training Academy

My friend Wendy and I went to Disneyland on Tuesday, and it was really fun because we took it at a very leisurely pace and got to hit some things we'd never done before. One of those was attending the Jedi Training Academy.

Okay, the Jedi Training Academy? Coolest. Thing. Ever.

It happens on the stage in Tomorrowland (by the hamburgers) about every hour. What it is is that little kids get to train as a Jedi knight and then get to do battle against the Dark Side. The first thing that happens is the two Jedi Masters (one male, one female) emerge to great fanfare and John Williams music. They then randomly select children in the audience to participate in the Academy. The official Disneyland guide says that children should be between 4 and 12, but the kids we saw were all around 4 to 6. None of the kids we saw selected could have been older than 8. It was interesting because it became clear that the Jedi Masters were very careful to not break up sibling groups. Here's a hint for the Jedi Training Academy: dress all your kids the same. Wendy and I were standing next to these two guys and when their kids were chosen they cheered like they'd just won the Superbowl. It was hilarious.

So once selected, the kids were given kid-sized Jedi robes and a "training" light saber. The light saber had a button and when you pressed the button and flicked your wrist, the saber part extended, just like an umbrella. You also could press the saber to collapse it back into the handle. The kids practiced engaging their sabers and then the two Jedi Masters taught them a very short routine (right shoulder! left shoulder! right leg! duck! right leg again! left leg! head shot!). Once the routine was taught, the music amped up and two Storm Troopers arrived on the scene. Fortunately there were approximately 25 young Padawans to control the situation.

In a dramatic entrance shortly after the Storm Troopers, Darth Vader himself came up on the rising stage, accompanied by Darth Maul--two seriously badass bad guys. They looked fantastic too--true Disney style. Once they preened briefly, the kids lined up and each one got to do "battle" with one of the Darths. The Jedi Master helped each kid battle with the routine they'd been taught and they defeated their respective Darth. The Darth Maul was great--Vader was up on the stage but Maul was on the floor and in between kids he totally engaged with the audience in character.

After the kids individually defeated the Darths, they grouped together (one kid got to use the Force to repel the Storm Troopers by pushing out his hand, and the troopers jumped back--very funny) and the Darths admitted defeat, for now. The kids then got to take the Jedi Oath, lined up on stage for one last photo shoot, and that was it.

It was SO COOL. I totally wish they would pick adults because I'd be the first in line. Seriously.

Posted by Shelby at March 7, 2008 11:16 PM

I love that "for now"! (Come back for the 5:00 show! The chicken's great!)

Posted by: Anita at March 12, 2008 11:21 PM
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