While the new Star Wars-themed land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge won't open at US Disney parks until 2019, an all-new fully-immersive Star Wars experience will debut this year during the holiday season at both Disney Resorts, in their public areas. Coming from ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm, and VR company THE VOID, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will pull fans into the world of Star Wars like never before.
The collaboration brings guests into a combined VR, AR, and real-world experience. You'll wear a VR helmet that works in conjunction with a real-world physical set. While the headset gives you the visuals that are uniquely Star Wars, the actual environment around you has physical and other sensory elements -- smell, heat, fans -- to pull you in further. THE VOID calls the experience "hyper-reality," and that seems like an accurate description.
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire opens in VOID Experience Centers at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort this holiday season. In addition to environments, players of the experience will be able to interact directly with other players, as well as with Star Wars characters.
“At THE VOID, we combine the magic of illusions, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at THE VOID in a press release. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of THE VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”
While they're not explicitly saying just what the story experience will be so far, ILMxLAB executive Vicki Dobbs Beck promises it's not just a tech demo, saying it will "combine Lucasfilm's storytelling expertise with cutting-edge imagery and immersive sound from the team at Skywalker Sound." Sounds like every level at the group of companies are involved.
If the teaser key art released is to be believed, it looks like the experience may include an assault on Darth Vader's palace on Mustafa. If that's the case, well, Star Wars fans will probably be freaking out quite a bit in a few months when Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire launches. Should tide us over until 2019, when the parks open, and beyond, when the immersive hotel and more offer new ways for Star Wars fans to jump into the world they love.