The Young Jedi at Disneyland - a Photo Story

My company had its holiday party this past Sunday. Although this was due to scheduling conflicts and inclement weather (we get about 3 days of that per year), they couldn’t have picked a better day. Temperature was in the mid-70’s, not a cloud in the sky, and no holiday tourists. And the drive? Smooth all the way down. That never happens in LA.

CHAPTER 1: Worthy Apprentice

Waiting for the tram to take us to the park...

“Dad, can you give me a shoulder ride?”
“No, not yet. Why don’t you just sit on the fence?”

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Not 10 seconds after this shot, I hear a *THUNK* followed by rustling. I look down. Marcus has tumbled butt-first into the bushes. I fumble for my camera as he fumbles for equilibrium. He’s back up before I can get a shot.

“Fury, do that again so I can get a picture!” (now you know the lengths I’ll go to entertain you all)
“No. Can I get a shoulder ride now?”

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Some backstory: We went to Disneyland last year and caught the day’s final performance of Jedi Training Academy. In this show, they choose a bunch of kids from the audience and train them in the ways of the Jedi. Then, halfway through the lesson, Darth Vader and his cronies show up, and the kids get to use their newfound skills to battle Darth Vader and Darth Maul. Marcus wasn’t picked last time and was totally heartbroken.

“Ok, Fury, they have 3 more Jedi Academy shows today. So let’s hit that first. Navigate!... Um ... a little higher please.”

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We make it to Jedi Academy 15 minutes before showtime. For good measure, Marcus has his hand raised before the Jedi masters are even on stage.

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It works! My job as a parent is done for the day. Everything else that happens today is just gravy.

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“Ok Younglings, ready? Activate! Strike the right leg, left leg, duck, right leg again left shoulder, head!”
Mid-lesson, guess who crashes the party?

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If you ever want to see what a kid’s face looks like when he’s faced with the responsibility of saving the universe, just go to one performance of Jedi Academy. It is priceless.

Fury is given the task of battling Sith apprentice extraordinaire Darth Maul:

As you can see from the video, his 5 minutes of training is no match for Darth Sidious’ right hand man. But Marcus lives to fight another day and enjoy a post-battle PB&J.

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[WARNING: Major Star Wars Geekage Ahead. I will not take offense if you skip ahead to then next chapter].

Like any good coach, I review his performance with him.
Jedi Dad: “So Fury, what happened out there? You kinda choked. Nervous?”
Padawan Fury: “Well, I kept thinking, why am I fighting Darth Maul??”
Jedi Dad: “What do you mean?”
Padawan Fury: “Well, by the time Darth Vader came along, Darth Maul was already dead. From two movies ago! Remember Obi-Wan killed him?”

The Star Wars geek in me wanted to raise him high Lion King style and shout “hey, did ya hear that folks? He’s totally right!! Even I didn’t pick that up!”

CHAPTER 2: Young Love

We finish up with lunch and try to decide what we’re riding next...

“How about Indiana Jones, Fury?”
“No, that’s scary.”
“No it’s not.”
“I don’t want that ball to chase us.”
[Talking out of my ass] “There’s no ball! Let’s ask mom. Mom, there’s no ball, right?”
[Mom speaking from experience] “Yes there is.”

Fine. Mickey’s Toontown it is. We trek over to Goofy’s Clubhouse. I let Fury down off my shoulders. He runs. To the bench. All that shoulder riding can get tiring.

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“Hey look! The bald one. That’s my dad!”
Hey, I do this on purpose!

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Let’s try the slide! Aren’t slides supposed to... slide?

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It’s all good. Marcus finds a playmate. A girl in a Snow White dress. Ok, now he’s smiling. As “Dream Weaver” is playing in his head, it is suddenly interrupted by a mini riot caused by the arrival of Goofy himself.

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Some frenzied running around and a high-five later, Marcus returns to Snow White... Snow White? Where are you? Dad! Where did my friend go? Dad, help me find her!!

Oh no, she’s crossed the sea of Goofy fanatics and is halfway to the kid coaster! I try to point her out to Marcus, but he can’t see above the swarm of kids in front of him. I do the only thing I can with the tools at my disposal. I go paparazzi. “I’ll email it to you Fury.”

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Young love... so bittersweet... so fleeting. Ok, who wants ice cream!

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“So Fury. Indiana Jones now?”
“I don’t wanna.”
“But it’ll be fun! I’ll protect you from the rock.”
“No, Dad. N. O. NO."
“Fine...”

CHAPTER 3: Man, My Neck Hurts

Oh look! The Disney Parade! It happens to be going on right in front of the entrance to the “It’s a Small World” ride. This has caused a phenomenon rarely witnessed during the course of one’s natural lifetime: no line for a Disney ride!

“Fury, let’s go on this one.”
“But the parade’s not over.”
“We’ll never ever get another chance like this, let’s go!”
“Is it scary?”
“No, no it’s not at all scary!”

He doesn’t look convinced.

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Our boat winds its way into a darkened tunnel. He really doesn’t look convinced.

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See? It wasn’t bad at all! Just a little weird. They still have the ride in Christmas mode. Hearing Jingle Bells in January is kind of depressing.

Off to the Disney Railroad! We make our way back to Main St. USA. Quick parenting tip: when your kid is riding on your shoulders and you come upon a low awning, cease all forward motion and confirm that your kid actually heard you say “duck” before proceeding. You learn something everyday...

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Waiting in line for the train. I can’t resist.

“Fury, after this, let’s go on the Indiana. Jo--”
*Whap* to the side of the face from atop my shoulders.

Time out. 5 minutes.
Somehow I feel that this constituted entrapment on my part (or temporary insanity). I feel so guilty.

By the time we finish with the train ride, it’s getting dark out. We have an hour to kill before we need to meet up with my co-workers for our holiday dinner at the Blue Bayou, I lift Marcus back onto my shoulders and we walk around some more. Marcus is fading fast. Like a mortally wounded outlaw clinging to his saddle, he slumps deeper and deeper with each step. He finally succumbs. How do I know? Drool on my ear.

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Well tonight you will sleep, my young Jedi.