What I most love about Disney is the unexpected magic. Last time I went to Disney a super fan and imagination collided at the intersection of childhood wonder and storytelling. It was sublime.
I love Star Wars, as does my son, but we keep it in check. Sure, I’ll abandon my children and run toward a spontaneous sighting of Stormtroopers, but no one is going to question my grasp of reality when the day is done and the park is closed. That’s not the case for everyone- as I soon found out. I was at the Star Wars museum or Launch Pad or whatever they call it, and the lines were unusually short. This was our chance. I grabbed the only other willing member of the family, my nine year old son, and scooted in the queue for Kylo Ren.
In front of us a perspiring young man of about twenty darted about while examining helmets, suits, model ships, and other film paraphernalia encased in glass. His movements were frantic and jerky, and like his sweat glands, they were a touch outside of the bell curve. He took pictures of absolutely everything. My son and I paused our casual banter at the spectacle that was unfolding before us. The line moved forward. He paused to catch his breath wherein he removed his shirt, used said garment to wipe his dripping brow, and revealed a sweat soaked tank to us and the other befuddled patrons waiting to shake hands with the new Darth Vader. I was speechless. If I could have uttered a word, I think it would have been cocaine. And it would’ve come out like a question. My son, also rendered speechless, gave me the side eye.
The character meet in greet is set up so that Kylo Ren is behind cool looking space doors that slide open. Cast members in film-extra garb, wait at the door to prevent a log jam of visitors. Well, when our sweaty little friend got the ear of these hapless employees, he barraged them with facts and questions that did not require responses despite their grammatical syntax. The doors opened much to their relief and, as a trio, we were escorted in. An unsuspecting and unprepared Kylo Ren awaited.
I’m certain that in most instances, Kylo Ren takes the lead and you just do as he tells you and go about your merry way. That’s not what happened here. The young man first ensured that pictures would be taken. Documentation was of the upmost importance to him. It was agreed. Just as Kylo Ren appears, the young man gets down on one knee, bows his head, and covers his eyes as if it’s medieval times not space times. He utters the most cohesive string of words I had witnessed him put together. They were a type of futuristic fealty that included liege, pledge, and master. And they were definitely the product of much craft and practice.
My mouth is agape. The cast members’ mouths were agape. And my son is taking this whole scene in like only a nine year old boy can. The sweaty super-fan exits. The air is charged with frantic energy and confusion. Now it’s our turn. We step forward. Kylo Ren in his mask altered unnerving voice instructs us on where to stand. My son, a rule follower, misunderstands Mr. Ren and gets down on one knee and begins to repeat the whole awkward scene. He thought that was what he was supposed to do! I yank on my son’s arm and pull him up while explaining that the other guy was crazy and we don’t do that. Kylo Ren, maybe limited by voice control buttons, attempts his spiel again. My son and I return to a normal fan stance when Kylo Ren leans down close to our faces and declares, “My condolences.” This is the first sentence he has said that I’ve understood since we stepped forward so I ask, “To my husband?” and he retorts, “To the Resistance.”
I start laughing, the employees start laughing, my son is still in awe and mild confusion. A gentleman hands me my phone and we are escorted out another set of space doors.
My nine year old and I had an awkward encounter with a super villain. Does vacation get any better than that?