Disney World Planning Challenges: Jedi Training Academy—A Guide to Being Part of the Show

Jedi Training Academy (photos by Sarah Graffam)
Jedi Training Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photos by Sarah Graffam)

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.)

JTA battleParticipating 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.

JTA battle 2 (Photo by Sarah Graffam)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.
  • JTA master and padawans (Photo by Sarah Graffam)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.

Sarah Graffam

Sarah gets that giddy feeling when walking down Main Street, U.S.A. (and sometimes in her own living room just thinking about her next trip to Disney World). She is a Disney Vacation Club member and has been a professional writer and editor since 1990. Other favorite places she has traveled include Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, Kenya, Tanzania, and Disneyland.

11 thoughts on “Disney World Planning Challenges: Jedi Training Academy—A Guide to Being Part of the Show

  • November 4, 2014 at 11:38 am
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    Great tips! We’ll be putting them into use on 11/15! DS6 is very excited to become a Jedi!

  • November 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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    My family must have gotten lucky because we were able to sign my six year old daughter up for the Jedi training academy in the late morning for an experience around 5:00 that evening. This was on Saturday 10/25. We had a FastPass+ for Star Tours at 10:30 and went to sign her up after that. I know a little later in the day they were taking sign ups for standby only. This was on a day where The Studios ended up being an 8 out 10 for the crowd level! The force must have been with us. My daughter really enjoyed the experience! Thanks for posting the article.

  • November 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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    Also make sure that the passes or bands go with the kids. We split up the last time so that I could get Fastpasses and my husband could sign the kids up for the Padawan experience. But they wouldn’t let him in line without our passes.

    And the photos didn’t matter. When they went to add the photos they wiped everything off my photo card last time – all pictures.

  • November 5, 2014 at 11:31 am
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    We went during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We actually spent New Year’s Eve at Hollywood Studios. Getting there right when the park opens was vital to having a choice of show times. When the kids arrive 30 minutes early, the staff will line them up in two rows. On those occasions when Darth Maul is going to be there, the back row of kids will always fight Darth Vader. I don’t know if this is important to your kids, but my son absolutely *had* to fight Darth Vader.

  • November 6, 2014 at 9:33 am
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    Jedi Training Academy is a wonderful experience for both boys and girls. However if you really want to do it, Disneyland is a far better experience. They take more kids with each show, and select them at the time the show begins. This means that it’s easier to fit it in your schedule (you can decide 10 minutes before the show that you want to go) and you have an easier time getting in. There is always a huge crowd watching the show at Disneyland. It’s always a little sad to me when I see the DHS version, because almost no one watches it unless their kids are in the show, and the crowd seems super small.

  • November 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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    We did this just two weeks ago and had a great time. An additional tip for anyone doing rope drop at Studios. Get as far to the left as you can. The farthest left turnstiles are open before rope drop for people with dining reservations only. But the second rope drop hits, they open up to everyone. So stay left, and you will be through much faster, and can quickly walk to the sign ups. We did this and were third in line (after the kids who ran.) We could pick any show to do.

  • November 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm
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    We have dining reservation at 8:05 at Hollywood & Vine for 9AM opening day at HS. Any suggestions for making sure we leave breakfast in time to get in line as early as possible?

    • November 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm
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      This could be a bit of a squeeze because if I wanted to be absolutely sure my kids would get into the show, I would definitely be heading to sign up right when the park opened. Complicating matters is that the Studios generally starts letting guests enter at least 10 minutes before the official opening time. With that said, if you do want to try to do both breakfast and sign up for Jedi, it would be good to get to breakfast early enough to be one of the first families seated, to ask for the check at the beginning of the meal so you can pay as soon as possible (this should work because it is a buffet), and let your server know you want to be done in time to be at the head of the pack going to Jedi Training sign ups. Good luck!

  • November 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm
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    How does it work trying to get the 9:20am show? How are they supposed to be there 30 minutes prior to the show when the park doesn’t open until approx 8:50ish? Are the chances good to get into that show if you are going straight there at park opening or are those spots reserved some other way? Thanks for the help!

    • November 9, 2014 at 9:17 am
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      Hi Tim, sign ups for the 9:20 show are the same as for any other show, but you need to be one of the first families to reach the sign up line when the park opens. On a typical day, only the first 12 kids in line will be able to get into that first show. The 30-minute prior return time is to make sure people are there in time to participate later in the day. For the first show, it is not a concern because you are already there.

  • November 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm
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    Make sure your kid is up for it. Mine was all excited to do it. Then at showtime, he started getting afraid, and the CM immediately kicked him out of the show. It was only a bit nicer than it sounds. A CM came over, took off the jedi robe, handed a certificate, and pushed (not roughly, but still hands on my kid) out of the main stage area (away from the stairs that lead up to the stage).

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