Star Wars Weekends is just two weeks away (well, it is at the time of the writing of this article) and if you’re planning on attending the event this year, you’re probably knee deep in trip planning, but one aspect of the event that isn’t so easy to plan off the bat is gearing the event towards your kids.
Many Star Wars fans are excited that this is the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film (Episode IV) that came out in 1977, so it’s easy to “geek out” and soak in the Star Wars stuff that goes on. For kids, this event is very much geared towards them as much as it is to the adults and there’s plenty to see and do with the kids to keep them engaged in the hyperspace fun.
Let your child be in the parade
This is my favorite tip, so I’ll start out with it. During Star Wars Weekends, there are two parades per day. The regular Stars & Motorcars parade is at 3pm but there is a special Star Wars parade that has been held at 11:15am in past years. The good news is Disney wants kids to be in the parade. If your child wants to be in the parade, you can make that dream come true fairly easily.
To get your child into the parade, you’ll need to sign them up as soon as the park opens. This means, when the park opens go right to the Star Wars Weekend information desk, which has been near Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (across from Sounds Dangerous) and volunteer your kid. These spots fill up VERY fast (partially because Cast Members will find kids to participate if enough don’t show up on their own at the start). The kids are provided a Jedi robe and light saber for the parade (the kids get to keep the light sabers after the parade is done) and when the parade occurs, your child will be right in the middle of it.
Train with the Jedi
One of the most popular events at Star Wars Weekends is the Jedi Training Academy. This event pits young Jedi wannabes against Darth Vader himself. It’s great for kids between the ages of 4-8 and to sign up, you’ll need to arrive at the Jedi Training Academy stage (located next to the entrance to Star Tours) about 15-20 minutes before the scheduled show time. At some point, the Jedi Master will ask for volunteers and it’s up to your child to show a great deal of enthusiasm to get picked. Unfortunately, you, as the parent, cannot be enthusiastic for them. Having your kid near the front of the stage and jumping up and down, waving their arms and shouting tends to be a good strategy to get noticed and picked. Many of the kids chosen relish the event and really enjoy it.
Show off their brain power
Another fun event is the Padawan Mind Challenge, which is better known as the trivia event for kids. This event is fun for all kids and gives them a great opportunity to show off their Star Wars knowledge. Obviously the questions here will be much more watered down than the ones the adults get and there are some great prizes, so if your young one knows a few things about Star Wars, you should encourage them to sign up for the event and give it a shot. To sign up for the Padawan Mind Challenge, go to the Star Wars Weekend information desk right when the park opens and pick the session you’d like to go to.
When all else fails, kids to love to paint their faces and during Star Wars Weekends there is a great assortment of face paint available. For a nominal fee, your child can don the ever popular Darth Maul face paint, or look like a storm trooper as well as a number of other options. Getting their face painted really adds to the fun of being in the event in general.
Another fun challenge is to see all the characters at Star Wars Weekends, and many make for great photo opportunities. Getting a photo with Bobba Fett usually entails Bobba raising your child up by their shirts, as if Fett has just nailed another valuable bounty. By in large, the Storm Troopers are a real hoot and if your kids try to interact with them (especially those dressed up as Jedi), you’ll have some great memories (video taping is a must if you have a video camera). Other characters provide some great “Kodak moments”, such as Chewbacca or a nice photo with one of the Jedi or Princess Leia. Plus, this is the only time of the year you can meet most of these characters so if your child has a favorite, this is the time to do it.
Some other suggestions are to keep an eye on your child because it is crowded but also because it will get very hot in June and it’s easy for your kid to be full of energy in the morning and wiped out by 2pm. If you can come back to Star Wars Weekends for more than one day, consider an afternoon break to relax and rest. Also, as you know, there are just some days where it doesn’t matter what is going on, you child could be in one of those moods where nothing pleases them, in which case you’ll need to go with the flow and adjust accordingly.