Our Little Padawan

Star Tours was the very first ride we took Ane on in Disneyland. She LOVED it. And after all I’ve done to ensure that she grows up as a dedicated Star Wars fan, how could she not love it?

Because of the immense marketing campaign linked to the Prequel Trilogy, Disneyland has quite a bit of Star Wars paraphenalia at the Star Trader store in Tomorrowland – including costumes, toys, and lightsabers (you can either buy a “plain” one, which our kids already own, a light-up one, or you can actually create your own by choosing a hilt, getting a clear blade, and then choosing a colored light and then assembling it). But the crowning experience of the whole thing is the Jedi Training Academy at Tomorrowland Terrace.

The Jedi Master on stage picks about twenty to twenty-five kids from the audience to become Padawan learners, and they try to pick kids between ages four and twelve (sorry, Oddball, you are way too old) to participate. Each child is given a Jedi robe and a practice lightsaber, is run through a basic defensive drill, and then Darth Vader shows up (along with a couple of stormtroopers and Darth Maul). The Padawannabes (ha ha) are then divided into two lines – one line takes on Darth Vader on stage, and the other line fights Darth Maul on the ground floor.

Ane watched the show at first, uncertain if she wanted to be in it. She quickly changed her mind when she saw other kids getting lightsabers and robes, but, by then, all the kids needed had been picked. The Webmaster and I decided that she needed to see the whole show first, to let her see what she would have to do (and avoid a panic attack as one child had during the first show when he faced Vader – poor little guy just crumpled into tears, at which point everyone in the audience cracked up). After seeing the whole show, Ane was convinced. She wanted to be a Jedi Padawan.

So, Tad went to hang out in the air-conditioned arcade with Nana and Papa, while the Webmaster and I took Ane to the very next show to try and get picked.

She was the second-to-last kid to be chosen. *whew* It was the Fourth of July, it was hot, and Disneyland was packed. I did NOT want to have to hang around Tomorrowland all day to get her into the show.

Ane was thrilled, and took her Padawan-in-training status quite seriously:

And when the time came, I was desperately hoping that she would get in the Vader line (though she does know quite well who Darth Maul is, there is a real coolness factor in getting to cross blades with Darth Vader). She did. Apparently, she still looked a little too nervous for the Jedi assistants, who really do try and avoid breakdowns on stage like we had seen earlier. I was too far away with the digital camera, but the Webmaster (who had the video camera and taped the show) could hear one of the cast members asking Ane if she was scared.

“My mommy told me not to be scared,” she told the guy.

And she wasn’t.

She was the last kid in the show to fight Darth Vader.

After Darth Vader and Darth Maul have faced all the kids, they try to lure them to the dark side. The kids, aided by Yoda’s voice and the Jedi Knights, refuse, and the Sith Lords leave, along with the stormtroopers. The kids then line up, and are declared by Yoda’s voice and the Jedi Master to have acheived the rank of Padawan.

As each child turns in their robe and lightsaber, they are presented with a fill-in-the-blank diploma, stating that they are qualified to be Jedi Padawans. I flattened Ane’s out carefully and got it home without a crease. We’ll have to frame it.

Along with the Princess dinner and Fantasmic, this is one of the events of our vacation that Ane constantly keeps talking about. I can’t say that I blame her. After all, how many other four-and-a-half year olds do you know who have faced down Darth Vader?

She keeps saying, “I was the last one to fight Darth Vader, and I wasn’t scared, and I beat him!

I’m so proud of our little Padawan. And I’m so glad that she has these wonderful memories of our vacation.

8 Responses to “Our Little Padawan”

  1. Master Jedi-Robe
    July 18th, 2008 02:26

    Thank you for this great little story, very inspiring and a lot of fun.

    My son took part in the Jedi Training Acadamy in London UK, last year which he thought was great.

    We both took part in the green room experience and left with our own DVD’s of the action to take home.

    Thanks again and May the Force be with you.

    Master Jedi-Robe.

    “Its always a pleasure to meet a Jedi”

    http://www.Jedi-Robe.com, – The Star Wars Shop,
    Star Wars Replica Costumes,
    Star Wars Toys, Star Wars Figures,
    Star Wars Vehicles, Star Wars Videos,


  2. Ressis
    July 18th, 2008 06:53

    You left out the part where she said she fought Darth Vader for Uncle Oddball!

  3. Cousin Shelley
    July 18th, 2008 12:23

    Thank you for all your great Disneyland pics & adventure stories! They are all great. The picture of Ane fighting Darth Vadar is my favorite, though! It made me smile out loud. 🙂 You could get the pic matted & framed with the diploma. So cute.

    I’m glad you guys had a wonderful trip & thanks for sharing!

  4. Oddball
    July 18th, 2008 16:06

    Okay, first off I’d lie about my age to get it. Second, I square off against the baddest SW villain ever…DARTH MAUL! Third, I jump and join the Dark Side (they have cool toys, plus the lighting).

  5. Alexandria (aka Reavan, KotOR is love
    July 18th, 2008 18:07

    Ha….This reminds me of the good old days of Star Wars cosplay with my sisters and cousins. I actually won second place in Regal Cinema costume contests as Wedge Antilles, and a costume I made for my sister took third.

  6. Matthew
    July 19th, 2008 21:32

    Wow, look at the comments!

    I had no idea we were in the presence of such a brave Jedi! Those photos are great!

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