Jedi Training Academy is one of the most interactive and exciting experiences for kids ages 4-12 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. However, despite the show’s many years of popularity, Disney doesn’t offer FastPass+ to become a Jedi Training Academy participant or any other way to sign up in advance. The result is that participating in Jedi Training Academy requires more planning than many other experiences at Disney World.
During the approximately 20-minute show, children train with a Jedi master and then test their lightsaber skills against the dark side. Following are some basics about the show as well as some tips to help your child become part of the action.
Jedi Training Academy takes place on an outdoor stage to the left of the entrance to Star Tours several times each day. Recent schedules have 13-15 shows per day starting at 9:20 AM and going as late as 8 PM, with the higher number of shows on the weekends. At most times of the year, approximately 12 kids typically participate in each show, culminating in a face-off with Darth Vader. (During Star Wars Weekends and other busy times, the number of kids in the show can be higher and some may battle Darth Maul.)
Participating kids (or “potential Padawans,” as these young Jedi in training are called at the start of the show) become part of the action by donning brown robes and receiving training lightsabers. After a Jedi master teaches them a set of basic lightsaber moves, they see stormtroopers in action up close before witnessing a dramatic entrance by Darth Vader. After each gets a turn battling Vader, they all banish him from the stage using the Force. All participants then receive a Jedi training diploma.
The Cast Members in this show bring a lot of charisma to the stage, making it fun for both kids and adults. Comic relief from both the Jedi master and stormtroopers contrasts with the commands of Darth Vader and the otherworldly voice of Yoda at the end of the show pronouncing the participants to be Padawans.
Besides the action-packed fun, another good reason for Jedi Training Academy’s popularity is that it provides a great opportunity for parents to take photos and video. In addition, a Disney PhotoPass photographer is on hand to take multiple photos during the show. Before the show, the photographer will hand a card to parents with participating kids; the card provides access to all the pictures from the show. You can access all of these photos when you get home using the number on the back of the card. Tips: If you take the card to a PhotoPass location in the parks, you can narrow down the multiple photos to just those you want. Also, when you receive the card, immediately take a picture of the number on the back so you can’t lose it.
All of these features make it easy to see why Jedi Training Academy is so popular and why the limited number of shows each day can fill up quickly, even before the first hour. So if you think this is an experience that your child would enjoy and given that signups are day-of only, how can you plan for it to be part of your day at Hollywood Studios?
Here are the tips that you need to know before you go:
- Jedi Training Academy is for children 4 – 12.
- Signups for the show begin as soon as Hollywood Studios opens (even on days with morning Extra Magic Hours). An effective strategy is to get to the park early enough to be at the front of the line at the tapstiles. This way, you will be at the front of the pack heading over to sign up. Arriving 30-45 minutes before official park opening should put you in a good position on most days. (To ensure a timely arrival at the park, check out my recent article on managing your Disney morning.)
- Very important: It is mandatory that each child who wants to participate be there at signup. The Cast Member will ask them a few questions to ensure they will be able to follow instructions during the show.
- Once you and your child are through the tapstiles, immediately head to the signups at ABC Sound Studio. To get there, stay to the left side of Hollywood Boulevard and then pass by Echo Lake. Sometimes there are Cast Members with lightsabers indicating the way, and there is usually a Cast Member with a sign when you get there.
- When you are offered a show time, you may be able to ask for a different time that works better with the rest of your day. Before the day you are visiting the park, you can take a look at Disney Hollywood Studios showtimes to see the schedule for Jedi Training Academy on specific dates. This way, you will know ahead of time which show times work with your other plans such as FastPass+ or dining reservations. Even so, plan to be flexible in case your choices are limited or the Cast Member can offer only one time; my personal experience is that Cast Members are willing to work around a dining reservation if possible.
- Although the sign up process can be quick, it can take a bit longer depending on where you are in the line and how busy a day it is at the park. To be safe, you may want to assume you won’t be done with the signup for 20-30 minutes; if you are done sooner, you’ll be ahead of the game.
- In addition to the time needed for signing up in the morning, participants are asked to report for their show 30 minutes prior to show time.
- If you are using one of the our personalized touring plans, you won’t be able to input the time of your show in advance. However, you can account for the time needed to sign up by setting your touring plan to start 15-30 minutes after park opening. Also, if you are not in the first show, you can account for being asked to report 30 minutes prior to show time by using the “Add Break” option if needed.
Following these tips should garner your child a spot in one of the day’s shows. Allowing enough time to sign up and participate will smooth the process. The popularity and longevity of Jedi Training Academy indicate that making an effort to participate is well worth it for many kids and their parents.