Pirates League. This is an amazing experience for kids and parents (lots of moms and dads were getting made up too!) With packages ranging from $29.99 to $39.99, you can choose a traditional pirate look (First Mate), a mermaid, a pirate princess (Empress), or even Jake from Disney Jr's fabulous "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." Little Boo went for Black Beard. His package included a new pirate name, official scroll, bandana, eye patch, sword, sheath, and of course the make-up. We opted for the Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirt as an add-on. And naturally we bought the professional photo (upper left). He was beyond thrilled and could not stop looking at himself in any reflective surface we passed for the rest of the day. The whole experience was really amazing. You can find all the details at the link above. They do accept reservations up to 180 days in advance, and this is recommended. We hadn't made reservations, but were lucky enough to be taken as a walk-in. Don't be afraid to ask!
Jedi Training Academy. Little Boo did this back in October, and he was determined to do it again this summer. Jedi training is free, but you have to sign-up in advance. Class size is limited and the spaces fill quickly. In October we got in off the waitlist (you have to keep showing up and hope for a no-show). But this time we knew to go immediately to Academy HQ and sign up as soon as we reached the park. Word is, cast members are available to start sign-up outside the gates about 15 minutes prior to park opening. Don't be disappointed!
The Jedi training is a 30 minute live show, occurring at scheduled times throughout the day. Young paduan are taught basic light saber skills by a Jedi master, but their training is interrupted - by the sudden arrival of Darth Vader. The younglings then proceed to show off their new skills as they battle the Sith Lord one by one. For certain shows, a second Jedi master is present, with a second group of paduans. This group battles against the evil Darth Maul. This show is so much fun for the kids and onlookers alike. It is open to children aged 4-12. A Disney Photopass photographer will be taking pictures throughout, and all parents will be given a special Photopass at the end of the show in case you'd like to purchase any professional shots. Oh! And each participant receives a certificate at the end, suitable for framing. (Little Boo's first one is on his wall.)
For our trip this summer, we were very grateful to receive one-day park-hopper passes for our family from Disney Parks and Resorts Canada. The park-hoppers allow you to move among parks on the same day, whereas the regular tickets provide access to one park per day only. We decided to use our park-hoppers for our Hollywood Studios day, so that we could catch a boat from there over to Epcot for a nice dinner.
We chose Tokyo Dining, as Japanese cuisine is a favourite in our family, and they do accept the Disney Dining Plan. Hubs and the Teen ordered sushi, which they said was fabulous. I had delicious steak. Little Boo had tempura chicken (Japanese chicken fingers, we told him). It came in a sweet little boat with steamed rice (his absolute fave) and green beans. Our server was lovely. I believe she was from Osaka. She crafted kid-friendly chopsticks for Little Boo using an elastic band and the paper wrapper. They worked great and he was very proud to be using them, just like the rest of us. Everything was fresh and healthy and delicious. Little Boo has now asked for tempura chicken on a number of occasions since. I think this was the only meal at Disney where he completely cleared his plate (he even had seconds of rice). The service here is impeccable, and we'd highly recommend. Plus, it would be a great spot from which to view the Epcot fireworks.
It's crazy to think we've been to Disney twice within a year. We plan to go back for LB's 8th birthday, so we have a year and a half to save up again.
I can't wait!!