Looking back through all of our Walt Disney World Resort vacations, character meet and greets have played a big part in the magical experience my kids have had over the years. We’ve met almost every character possible, and have run out of space to store all of our autograph books. From meeting Cinderella, hanging out with a Green Army Man, counting frozen fractals with a pair of sisters, to that magical meeting with one’s doppelganger favorite princess, all of our Disney vacations have included memorable moments with a Disney character.
And truthfully, I always have felt this would be our character meet and greet to end all meet and greets.
And then this happened.
Why is this picture so special? This past April we embarked on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation with a teen, tween and almost tween Jedi Princess. So much had changed in the mere two years since that epic encounter with Princess Merida. The tween had no desire to dress as a princess or visit Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and had not once shown even the slightest interest in meeting any Disney characters. No autograph books were purchased before the trip, and the main topic of discussion focused solely on what thrill rides would be conquered during our week long vacation.
This of course was in direct contrast to the almost tween Jedi Princess. Her main focus every waking moment leading up to the vacation was to meet every Star Wars character possible, as well as Rapunzel and any other princess available.
First up on our trip? Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Jedi Training and meeting Kylo Ren. As the Jedi Princess put it, her ultimate dream day at Walt Disney World Resort. Preferring not to hang out with her teen brother, the tween opted instead to try Jedi Training and to tag along for the character meet and greets.
Most kids may approach a meeting with Kylo Ren with a slight sense of trepidation. I mean, come on, it’s KYLO REN. Even the Jedi Princess talked of being ready to strike at any moment to protect herself from the Dark Side. With that menacing stance and mind control hand thingy, even I was a bit wary of our meet and greet. As we approached our turn to meet the Dark Lord, we prepared ourselves for the worst from the Dark Side.
And then the girls just proceeded to giggle uncontrollably.
And continue to giggle uncontrollably.
And then the tween laughed so hard she fell down and rolled on the floor.
Both my girls are dancers. So of course they asked Kylo Ren to tap dance with them. Not surprisingly, he declined. The Cast Members helping with the meet and greet said it was the best character meet and greet they had seen all day. And truthfully, it really was.
We left that meet and greet and the tween herself led the way over to meet Chewbacca.
The tween and the Jedi Princess talked about their visit with Kylo Ren non-stop all the way back to the resort. It was as if they had met the Queen of England, or, for the tween, even Justin Bieber. IT WAS EPIC.
On the way out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios that night they bought autograph books. Granted, maybe not the typical Mickey and Minnie ones, but autograph books nonetheless.
Between that first day and the end of the trip, the girls met no less than thirteen Disney characters, some of them more than once. We would have met even more had we planned ahead.
Moral of the story? The magic of Disney is there, no matter what age, and your Disney Tween is never be too old for the magic of a character meet and greet. Yes, I know these are just actors playing a part, and the tween and almost tween are old enough to realize that also, but in that moment Kylo Ren came alive for the girls. This wasn’t just an actor playing a part, but someone who interacted with this Disney Tween in such a way that that little girl dressed as Merida from years ago made a momentary appearance. In that brief interaction, Kylo Ren changed so much about our vacation for the better, and added more magic to our trip than he could ever know.
The girls still talk about that once in a lifetime encounter with Kylo Ren. Even the Disney Tween has been overhead telling her friends that she and Kylo Ren are buddies. This coming from someone who claims to not really like anything about Star Wars at all (blasphemy, yes, but I guess she is entitled to her opinion).
Unbelievably, the magic of this meet and greet did not end there. The girls became a little concerned they may have possibly hurt Kylo Ren’s feelings by laughing through their entire meet and greet. The tween wasn’t sure, but she also thought she may have at some point stepped on Kylo Ren’s foot. Worried Kylo Ren may not have thought their meet and greet was quite as epic as she felt it was, the tween decided to send a note to Kylo Ren. You know, just to let him know that despite her reaction, she thought he was really cool and at least somewhat scary. The Jedi Princess decided she would send a note to Chewbacca, because, well, she didn’t want him to feel left out.
A few days later we stopped back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to drop off the girls’ notes at Customer Service. A little pixie dust was sprinkled on us as we met Lais, a Cast Member at Customer Service. The girls excitedly explained why we were there and handed her their notes for Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. She disappeared inside for a moment and then asked us to follow her when she returned. And off she went towards Star Wars Landing.
“Come on,” she said “we’re going to take these to Chewie and Kylo Ren personally.” And so off we went, led by Lais, through the park and to the meet and greet area at Star Wars landing. Just when we thought this experience could not get more epic, it did.
The girls were able to give their notes to Chewbacca and Kylo Ren directly, thanks to Lais. Ok, well, not directly – maybe Kylo Ren thought it was a trap to turn him away from the Dark Side.
The Disney Tween had to hand her note to one of the Cast Members instead. Like a typical tween, she wasn’t buying any of Kylo Ren’s excuses for why he couldn’t take her note, and had no problems telling him so.
But not to worry, they still were best buddies. Kylo Ren may not have been able to turn this thrill ride loving Disney Tween to the Dark Side, but he was able to remind her of the magic of a Disney character meet and greet.
The girls even tried to summon the Dark Side with Kylo Ren before they left. But not to worry, according to the Jedi Princess, she was just pretending and feeling the force the entire time.
We’re headed back to Walt Disney World Resort in just a few short days and the Disney Tween already is making a list of characters she would like to see. Up first of course is Kylo Ren. I’m not sure we would have seen any Disney characters on our last trip, or been looking forward to seeing some on our upcoming trip, had it not been for this chance encounter with Kylo Ren. I’m glad she decided to tag along that day on the Jedi Princesses’ Star Wars meet and greets. It made me realize that your Disney Tween is never too old for a Disney character meet and greet.
When you are at Walt Disney World Resort, you never know where you may find a bit of Disney magic. For this Disney Tween, hers came from the Dark Side. It’s probably the only time I won’t mind her hanging out with the Dark Side. 😉