I know. An overpriced tourist trap with two hour lines and twelve dollar soft drinks.
And I love it. No apologies.
The rides, the lights at night, the beauty and the attention to detail absolutely everywhere. The deliriously happy kids, and adults laughing like they haven’t laughed in years.
One of my favorite Disney attractions is the Jedi Training Academy.
I adore this show.
The set up is this: a great number of powerful padawans are identified and brought to the Jedi Training Academy. These padawans range in age from 3 years to 12 years old. They are dressed in the brown robes of the Jedi, with sparkling princess costumes and Spiderman tennis shoes peeking out from underneath. They are issued light sabers and given lessons on how to battle their enemies.
Not the least of which is the importance of fighting fear.
The teachers prepare the children with different light saber maneuvers. They show them how to swing, duck, and attack.
And they remind them of the importance of believing that they can win. Of knowing that they have the advantage over the dark side simply because they are on the side of light.
Have faith, young padawan.
After walking the kids through a few training routines for the crowd, the students are arranged in front of the stage in two lines.
In a cloud of smoke and a flash of light, the stage transforms into a spaceship. And two villains from the dark side emerge, sometimes the Seventh Sister, sometimes Darth Maul, and always, Darth Vader.
The kids snap to attention when the villains appear.
They are Disneyfied villains–down to the last gleaming button–in black fabric, swirling capes, and tall wicked boots. And they are miked to a sound system, and they are scary. That Darth Vader breathing machine, that nebulizer of death, wheezes over the loudspeakers with a sharp and evil intent. The Seventh Sister moves over the children like a panther. They threaten and posture, and the kids back up a little, their dragging and playful light sabers held suddenly at attention.
But the Jedi instructors are still there, shouting direction and courage. The kids glance at them and nod and look back at their opponents. There is the occasional smile or older boy who has played this game before, but to most, it is serious business. This battle is real to them.
And one by one, these toddlers and youngsters line up to give this fight their best shot. Darth Vader towers over them. The Seventh Sister is light on her feet and hard to catch. Some of the smaller children stagger back at first, eyes big and round.
But what amazes me is that, of the one hundred children I have seen go through this process, I have never seen one cry or even look out into the crowd for a friendly face.
They may hesitate, and their fear is real, but these little guys dig deep.
And they stumble forward, they swing tentatively, and then harder, and then harder, and they duck and they jump as the Master calls out direction and help. “You can do it! Fear not! Swing to the left! Cut to the right! Cut to the head!”
And, miraculously, the kids win every time.
Darth Vader, Darth Maul, the Seventh Sister, they all stomp away, furious and defeated.
Then, the Jedi Master teaches the children one more thing.
“For your last lesson, know that even if you win the fight, you have not fully beaten your enemy if you fear him. It is actually fear that you must defeat, not another living being. When you beat fear, there is no opponent that has power over you.”
When you beat fear, there is no opponent that has power over you.
You’ve got this, young padawan.
Your Master will never leave you. You will never face an opponent alone. You are guaranteed every victory when you fight for light.