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Learning You Are, Young Padawan: Jedi Training Academy.

UPDATE 11/15/10:  Please note that the process for signing up has changed, at least for now´╗┐.  You can read more about it here.

Is your kid a Star Wars fan?  At Disney Hollywood Studios your little Padawan can confront Darth Vader and train to be a Jedi in Jedi Training Academy (JTA). Located in the back of the park right next to Star Tours, JTA is a 30-minute live show where kids learn lightsaber basics and then take turns confronting the big guy himself, Darth Vader.  The show, which loosely follows a script, is funny and moves quickly.  While there are inside jokes for Star Wars fans, you don’t have to follow the movies to enjoy it.  There’s no specific age range, but most kids are between 4 and 12 years old.  Right now, show times are as follows:  9:55, 10:50 and 11:45am, 12:40, 1:30, 2:20, 4:00 and 4:45pm .  This varies throughout the year, so check a website like Steve Soares’ for show times before you plan your day.

In the past, children were chosen radomly, often the loudest, most enthusiastic kids or, at least, the kids with the loudest most enthusiastic parents.  This led to a lot of disappointed little Padawans.  Now if you want to be part of JTA, you wait. Groups of 15 (sometimes more during busier times)  are taken onstage and trained .  The show, as noted above, is 30 minutes. Quite often, there is a 30 minute or longer wait between shows, which means you could wait through several shows and intermissions before your child gets a chance. There are two “holding areas” where  kids wait.  The first is the line for the for the attraction itself, which gets longer as the day progresses.  When their turn comes up, kids are taken in groups of 15 into the second holding area right next to the stage where cast members ask their ages and if they’re afraid of Darth Vader.

[For an update on how children may now participate in Jedi Training Academy, please see this post.]

The new system works really well in the sense that any kid who is willing to wait will get a chance, but it does mean longer waits.  Your best bet is to get to Hollywood  Studios when the park opens.  In fact, given how long the lines are for Toy Story Midway Mania (TSMM), this is one day you’ll want to make sure to get to the park at rope drop.  When the park opens, send a member of your party over to TSMM for fastpasses if you plan on visiting that attraction. The rest of you, including those who want to participate in Jedi Training Academy, will go and get in line.  Don’t worry about trying to be first in line for your TSMM fastpasses; you actually want a later return time, say 11:30 or so, giving you enough time to participate in JTA, have a bathroom break, and head over to the other side of the park.

A couple of last thoughts.  There’s very little that’s scary in JTA, but Darth Vader in full regalia can be intimidating for some children, even those in the audience.   The show isn’t as excessively loud as some shows are at Disney World, so kids with sensory issues should be fine with the noise level, but let your child’s personality be your guide.  In addition, as all Star Wars fans know, the color of your lightsaber is very important and if your kid is a big fan, he or she probably has a preferred color when playing at home.  Let him know ahead of time that he won’t be able to choose his lightsaber color. It sounds like a little thing, but I’ve seen younger kids really upset by not getting “their” lightsaber color.  Finally, there’s no shade next to the stage, so if you have a long wait, remember to keep hydrated and reapply sunblock.

And of course, may the force be with you!

8 Comments

  1. I have been by the show countless times but have not stopped to watch it. I guess if I didnt have a little girl I would be into it more :(

  2. Is there an age limit? My son, who is now 17, is autistic and rather big. He would love to be chosen but never has been because he is so big. I think this is ridiculous considering the fact that everybody comes to DW to be a kid.

  3. Is there an age limit? My son, who is now 17, is autistic and rather big. He would love to be chosen but never has been because he is so big. I think this is ridiculous considering the fact that everybody comes to DW to be a kid.

  4. Also, make sure your child is old/polite/mature enough to follow directions. Students are given a brief script to follow regarding the light saber fights with Darth Vader (kind of up high right, left, down low right, left). Very simple and they practic several times. We saw one little boy fail to follow instructions and hit Darth in the crotch. His learning opportunities were done.

  5. Chip: I’ve seen little girls there. They are always so cute. Last time there was the sweetest little girl there–she really got into it. Maybe yours will turn into a little Star Wars fan and she can do it?

    Anon, good point. Some of the younger ones don’t really understand what it’s all about.

    Nubiangeek: I think Disney doesn’t have a specific age requirement, but I’m not sure. Have you seen this mom’s trip reports on the Dis:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2329848

    She also has a blog, but she hasn’t updated it in a while:

    http://wdwadventuresinautism.blogspot.com/

    She might be able to answer that question. She is super friendly. The Dis also has a very active, friendly board for people with disabilities. I’ve noticed the parents on there are really supportive of each other.

    I’m going to ask around and if I find out anything definitive, I’ll let you know.

  6. I didn’t realize they had changed the picking process. My older son, Andrew (10), was randomly picked last year (after a failed attempt at a previous time). It was hot than Hades but he had a BLAST! I wasn’t there (I had taken our 3yo son to the room to nap/cool off) but the Photopass photographer took great pictures (they were added to the Photopass card after the Academy – my husband had to pick out his pictures) for all of us to see.
    Janna

  7. Is Jedi Training offered everyday? During every season or only on Star Wars Weekends?

  8. I’ve looked everywhere, but can’t seem to find how much it costs. Can anyone please tell me how much it costs to get your child into the Jedi Training Academy?

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