CRAZY RUMOR: Jedi Training Academy 2.0 With Interactive, Lightsaber-Wielding Yoda Animatronic?

Our Bothan spies have sent word that Walt Disney Imagineering is considering revamping the Jedi Training Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios into a training session set on Planet Dagobah and led by an Jedi Master Yoda.  Taking over the aging, seasonal attraction Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey, Jedi Training Academy would continue training young padawans, but in a much more elaborate set themed to the Dagobah swamp from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The highlight would be an advanced, interactive Yoda audio-animatronic -- complete with Lightsaber -- who would play an integral part in seriously exciting new show in Hollywood Studios.

Before we go any further: please take this all with a grain of salt.  This project seems to be early in its evolution, and we frankly have no idea whether or not it has received the official greenlight.  We do believe it’s serious enough to relay these details, including the fact that Imagineers have been onsite at Sounds Dangerous looking at plans.

With Yoda, we’ve heard WDI is kicking around how he would be able to make an entrance, move around the stage, and interact with the padawans and show pieces.  Unlike the plastic “training” Lightsabers used by the current Jedi trainers and padawans, Yoda would be able hold a realistic-looking Lightsaber thanks to laser and lighting effects.  We’ve heard him compared to the Wall-E Living Character Initiative animatronic, as well as the first free-roving audio-animatronic from WDI, Lucky the Dinosaur.  We also hear something about Yoda’s facial features/talking controls being like the Bon Appétit from Chef Remy in Epcot.  While the Yoda animatronic seems to be very early in the process, we believe skeleton mock-ups have been made and are being tested in WDI’s labs.

In addition to adding Yoda, we hear WDI is considering lots of changes to the show building currently holding Sounds Dangerous.  Inside, the Dagobah set would possibly include “multi-level temple ruins,” updated projection technology, and special lighting/laser elements.  Seats from Sounds Dangerous would be removed and the stage extended for the training action to take place.  By bringing the Academy experience indoors, Imagineers will presumably have the ability to pull off some great effects and produce a much higher quality show.  Other than a grand entrance by Darth Vader, the current Academy relies solely on the Jedi and padawans for entertainment.

From what we can tell, one focus of this project is to appeal beyond the parents-of-kids-who-are-in-the-show demographic and reach a broader Disney’s Hollywood Studios audience.  If this project moves forward, it would significantly increase the footprint of the Star Wars universe inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Of course, if you know any more (or if you think we’re completely off our rockers), please let us know by leaving a comment below or using the tip form at the top of this page. 

And what do you think?  Would a Jedi Training Academy on Dagobah with Master Yoda be as awesome as it sounds?  Is expanding Star Wars’ footprint the Mouse’s answer to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?  Is a new Academy part of the Next Generation Experience initiative?  And most importantly... will this be ready for Star Wars Weekend 2012??

Photos: Yoda courtesy ELTMAN; Sounds Dangerous courtesy JoshMcConnell.