If your young Disney fan at home is also a Star Wars fan, then one opportunity at Hollywood Studios should be a definite MUST on your “to do” list. It’s called Jedi Training Academy, and it is a hot ticket item, so you must be prepared to enter the park at opening to sign up, but it is a FREE experience, and a lot of fun for your kids!
You must register your little Padawan to participate in Jedi Training Academy, and registration can and usually does fill up within the first hour or two of park opening. When entering Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll want to head straight to register. **DISNEY TIP – IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE ADULT IN YOUR GROUP, GIVE ALL BAGS TO ONE ADULT AND NON-PARTICIPATING CHILDREN AND HEAD TO THE “GUESTS WITHOUT BAGS” LINE. THIS LINE WILL BE FASTER AND THE REST OF THE PARTY CAN CATCH UP TO YOU WHILE YOU REGISTER.**
When you enter the park, you’ll want to take a left and go directly to the ABC Sound Studio. (During Star Wars Weekends, the registration process is often held at the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular Theater.) Here you will register your child for the show time of your choice, based on availability for that time. Make sure to keep in mind your fast pass times and your dining reservations! The experience lasts around 20 minutes, so there are multiple opportunities during the day that you can choose from. **DISNEY TIP – YOUR PADAWAN MUST BE WITH YOU AT TIME OF REGISTRATION. WITHOUT YOUR CHILD YOU WILL BE ASKED TO RETURN WHEN THE CHILD IS PRESENT.**
Disney suggests that this experience is for ages 4 – 7, but no proof of age is required. The cast member should give you a piece of paper with your return time listed. When you return, you will come back to the ABC Sound Stage.
Typically there are 12 children who participate in each time slot. During Star Wars Weekends, this number may increase in attempt to accommodate more children since the crowds are much heavier. When you return to the ABC Sound Stage, the children are loaned a brown jedi robe and a light saber to use during their training. While waiting for their training to start, often a cast member will let them play a game of Star Wars trivia which the kids really enjoy.
When the time for training to start comes, the children are led outside to the stage area to meet their jedi instructor. The instructor will lead them on stage and spread them out and begin teaching them how to properly use their light saber and battle techniques. **DISNEY TIP – THERE WILL BE A PHOTOPASS PHOTOGRAPHER TAKING PICTURES. THE PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD GIVE YOU A CARD WITH A CODE TO ENTER INTO YOUR PHOTOPASS ACCOUNT. YOU CAN ALSO TAKE YOUR OWN PICTURES DURING THE EXPERIENCE.**
During the training, the young padawans will be visited by someone from the Dark Side. Most often it is Darth Vader, but during Star Wars Weekends, it might be Darth Maul or Asajj Ventress. **IF YOUR CHILD IS YOUNG, IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO GOOGLE A VIDEO OF THE TRAINING EXPERIENCE AND SHOW THEM BEFORE REGISTERING THEM FOR THIS EXPERIENCE. DARTH VADER IS LARGE, AND CAN BE A LITTLE INTIMIDATING FOR SMALL CHILDREN.**
At this point, each child will get the opportunity to test what they’ve learned with a battle against Vader. Once all children have had their chance, the instructor will have the children as a group use the “Force” on Vader to make him retreat.
When the battle is over and Vader leaves, the children will return their robes and light sabers, and will each receive a certificate that says they completed their training. The certificate makes a great souvenir! The kids have great fun in this training, and the opportunity for great vacation photos are endless.
Have your children participated in Jedi Training Academy? I’d love to hear about their experience in the comments below.
Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!