Thursday, October 12, 2006


Monday, I had the day off.  Columbus Day.

My real estate agent was hosting a "broker caravan" in my condo (when about a dozen brokers come by to check it out) so I needed to be out of there.

So I went to Disneyland.  I'd just renewed my Annual Pass, so, you know, I have to go a bunch of times to make the investment worth it.

They have this one place in California Adventure where you go into a small auditorium and some dude stands on the stage and tells you all about animation.  For awhile, it was a real live actual animator, who would draw something while he talked to you.  Later, they changed it to where there was just some film running where a Disney character (Mushu, from Mulan) does this introduction to animation.  He exchanges a couple lines with a live human being who claims to be an animator, but the live human being could really be anyone in a Disney outfit, as all he has to do is stand there and feed Mushu his cues.

Well they've finally changed the attraction into what it always should have been, which is where they pass out paper and pencils and teach you how to draw a Disney character.  And it's real basic follow-the-steps, draw-a-circle-here sort of stuff, and by the time 20 minutes have passed, you walk out with your very own more-or-less recognizable attempt at a Disney character.  I here proudly display my Donald Duck.

Yeah, I don't think the animators have anything to be afraid of either.  But it was a really fun thing to do, and the kids and grown-ups were totally into it, which is what Disneyland is all about.

The other new thing they've added is the Jedi Training Academy.  It's over in Tomorrowland, on the stage where they used to have a Buzz Lightyear show.  I actually ran over there a few minutes late, so I missed the beginning, but it was pretty easy to figure out what had happened.

There were about 20 kids gathered on the raised stage -- each one wearing a brown Padawan robe over his or her street clothes.  And holding a plastic "training" lightsaber.  They had apparently all been taught a lightsaber combination, which I subsequently came to know by heart (left shoulder, right shoulder, left leg, duck!, left leg again, right leg, go for the head).  There's this Jedi master guy on stage who apparently taught them, and a second Jedi master lady who is standing right below him in front of the stage.

OK, so, right around the time I get there, the kids have all memorized the combination, and then "Dark Side of the Force" music comes on and two stormtroopers run in.  Then the center of the stage lifts up revealing a platform with Darth Vader in it.  (Uh-oh.)  Vader starts saying ... well, he starts saying some classic pre-recorded Darth Vader lines.  I don't think they even bothered getting James Earl Jones to record them, they just used stuff from the movies.  So Vader's saying all this stuff to the kids about joining him over on the Dark Side.  And Jedi master guy tells Vader that he better leave 'cause they've got these, like, 20 well-trained Jedi warriors here so Vader is outnumbered.  So then Vader says something else ominous and pre-recorded, and Darth Maul comes out to join him.

OK, now the fun starts.  Vader is on stage; Maul is in front of the stage, right below him.  Jedi master guy on stage; Jedi master lady right below him.  Then they call over the kids, two at a time.  One kid stands in front of Vader, another one stands in front of Maul, and they do the little light-saber fight they'd been taught (with Jedi master guy calling out each move, in case they forget).  And after each set of kids successfully does battle, the audience just goes crazy applauding them.

So this one kid goes up to fight Vader, and he reaches down to "Activate" his lightsaber.  (This basically involves flicking it so that the telescoping "blade" appears.)  And the kid drops his saber on the ground.  Jedi master guy looks up at the audience, waves his hand slowly and goes, "You saw nothing."  Ah, we saw nothing, yes. 

I totally gotta hand it to the guys playing Darth Vader and Darth Maul, because they managed to set up the blows for the kids to parry no matter how fast or slow the kid was.  And, at one point, the stormtroopers starting approaching, as if they were gonna help Vader fight the kid, so the kid pushes his hands out in their direction ("Force push," says Jedi master guy) and the stormtroopers promptly fall backward with perfect timing.

The whole thing was just brilliant -- and I bet there were a lot of adults out there who wish they'd been able to battle Darth Vader too.


helmswondermom said...

Beautiful!!  I would have loved to have been there, and yes!  I would love to face Vader.  Wow!  Wouldn't that be so fun?  Probably more fun to watch the kids, though.  Thanks for the laugh.  "You saw nothing."  May the force be with you!

bgilmore725 said...

The Disney people really know how to select their people for these audience interaction scenarios... sounds like that one Jedi Master guy understood kids, and was into his role as well. I would have been cracking up to watch those little guys dueling with the Darths. Great entry... I felt like I was watching it myself through your words. Lori at Dusty Pages had your link in her entry today, that's how I found you. I went to DisneyWorld this summer for five days and wrote all about it in my journal (they are in the archives under June 2006). You are welcome to come visit my journal anytime!


lanurseprn said...

This is my first visit here.  Loved this story. Isn't Disneyland just cool?

rebuketheworld said...

I went to Disneyland a few years ago..bummer that I didnt see this part...we tried to do it all in one day..but that isnt easy with kids...I 'm a huge Star Wars fan..this sounds like fun...