As if the Star Wars hotel concept didn't submerge you deep enough into galactic nirvana, the two flagship Disney parks will soon get a virtual reality experience to match. Installation-based VR company The Void has announced that it's working on a new project called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire for Disney World and Disneyland. Here's the pitch from The Void:
"Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will plunge guests directly into the iconic Star Wars galaxy. They will move freely throughout the untethered, social, and multi-sensory Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience in a way that allows them to interact and engage with friends, family and Star Wars characters."
How will Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire work?
Sounds cool! But… what does any of that actually mean? Well, it sounds like Secrets of the Empire will probably function similarly to The Void's last big project, Ghostbusters: Dimension.
In Ghostbusters: Dimension, groups of guests strap on VR headsets, haptic feedback vests, and big computer-holding backpacks, and they wield elaborate toy guns with those little motion-tracking balls they put on mocap suits. But that's just the normal VR stuff.
The magic comes from how the VR setup integrates with a carefully constructed real-world environment. You don't need to worry about movement feeling weird because you're actually walking around. If there's a wall in the real world, there's a wall in VR too, and your fellow visitors show up as Ghostbuster-jumpsuit-clad avatars. Extra stuff like wind machines and vibrating floors kick in to convince your other senses that you really are busting ghosts. I've never done it myself, but I hear it's a good time.
The Void is working on Secrets of the Empire with ILMxLab, an "immersive entertainment" focused branch of cinematic effects studio Industrial Light & Magic: "By combining Lucasfilm’s storytelling expertise with cutting-edge imagery, and immersive sound from the team at Skywalker Sound, while invoking all the senses, we hope to truly transport all those who experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to a galaxy far, far away," ILMxLab boss Vicki Dobbs said in a press release.
What will you do in Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire?
Disney and The Void didn't share any story details in the press release. But that piece of concept art has K-2SO in it, meaning Secrets of the Empire probably takes place sometime around Rogue One (i.e., in the period leading up to A New Hope). The two people at the forefront look like they're wearing stormtrooper armor minus the helmets but they're exchanging fire with a group of stormtroopers, so I'm thinking this was probably a Rebel infiltration mission gone wrong, as they usually do.
And look at where all this is taking place: a heavy Imperial presence, Lava Fleas scurrying around rivers of molten rock, that imposing citadel in the background. This is Mustafar, the planet where Anakin Skywalker blatantly disregarded the importance of high ground, and where Darth Vader has since made his home (as we saw when he briefly met with Director Krennic in Rogue One). Given the location, a run-in with the Sith Lord seems like a foregone conclusion. The only question is how Disney and The Void will possibly justify your survival.
When will Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire open?
You can strap on your VR headset and experience what it's really like to be one of those little frog things that Jabba eats (ok that's probably not actually what happens) starting in holiday 2017. Hey, that's pretty soon, as far as amorphous windows go!
While you're waiting for more info on Secrets of the Empire, check out our full recap on all the Star Wars: The Last Jedi info that's surfaced so far.