Polygon was invited to go to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Disney World Resorts’ new high-concept resort expertise in Florida, throughout a press preview occasion final week. One of many bullet factors that basically bought followers on the power in 2019 was a lightsaber coaching expertise, one which promised to evoke the earliest scenes of Luke Skywalker swinging a laser sword approach again in 1977. Throughout my go to, I gave it a attempt to discovered it to be, technologically talking, sort of tame. However, like a lot of the enjoyable available aboard the Halcyon, it’s extra concerning the vibe than anything.
One of many first main demonstrations of the lightsaber coaching expertise confirmed up on YouTube simply three months in the past. In it, you may clearly see how the system works. Members stick a particular lightsaber right into a beam of sunshine and, in the event that they time it accurately, the lights flash and the saber vibrates. Shields additionally play a job within the expertise, including extra tactile participation whereas serving to to maintain fingers and palms from getting whacked on the backswing.
Truthfully, it actually doesn’t look something all that very like it does within the motion pictures. It doesn’t even look very like the early idea artwork. The rationale for that, I hope, is pretty self-explanatory.
Laser swords aren’t actual, and even when they have been, there’s not an insurer on the earth that may let company wield a weapon that would minimize by metallic. Additionally, whereas laser weapons are actual, their beams don’t kind coherent bolts of sunshine that zip by the air like tracer rounds. Principally, the legal guidelines of physics take plenty of the enjoyable out of the lightsaber coaching expertise, making it really feel lots like reverse Laser Tag. However in accordance with Disney’s inventive director, Sara Thacher, this was nonetheless a significant step ahead for the tech.
“That is the utmost, epic problem,” Thacher informed Polygon. “Once we began the mission, [we noted] there are a lot of, many wonderful VR lightsaber experiences. These are nice, however they’re very arduous to share with the individuals that you just care about — to be there collectively, to be experiencing the identical factor collectively.”
As Thacher describes it, the lightsaber coaching expertise that was lastly applied on board the Galactic Starcruiser is a little bit of a compromise. It focuses on security, by having everybody face ahead and by not having members spar towards each other. The expertise works; I can personally attest to that, and he or she mentioned that’s in no small half due to the legendary Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot who protoyped the idea practically a decade in the past — earlier than the Galactic Starcruiser was even on the drafting board. However it’s extra of a team-building expertise than a whizz-bang particular results extravaganza.
Your information throughout the lightsaber coaching is a Saja, an actor portraying one of many descendents of the Guardians of the Whills launched in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. They’re primarily Drive-sensitive refugees who’ve discovered a house on board the Halcyon. Their message throughout the lightsaber coaching expertise is easy, however impactful: It’s our responsibility to guard one another, and we’re stronger collectively than we’re alone. The Saja give the expertise its coronary heart — and so they assist to tie it into the bigger storyline of the two-day immersive expertise as an entire.
“The actors are so important,” Thacher mentioned. “From early, early playtests ahead they’ve all been with an actor. We’ve been frequently engaged on that, as a result of what you discover and the way you’re feeling doing it’s as a lot about what the what the expertise of the room is telling you, and the sport a part of the room is telling you, [and] it’s about what that individual is telling you and the way they information your focus adjustments your expertise. In order that script, and the way they work together with you, is so integral. We discovered we couldn’t play take a look at them individually.”
Seen in that approach, the lightsaber coaching is only one a part of the entire. The Saja guiding you in that room feels as actual as another passenger on the ship. They’re somebody you could speak to and role-play with all all through your keep. Whereas these actors are off-stage, the Play Disney Parks app takes over, permitting company to make use of the Knowledge Pad to strengthen the teachings discovered throughout coaching. The app may even assist company to unlock distinctive narrative experiences, together with extra coaching within the Drive and even a go to with Jedi grasp Yoda himself.
Nonetheless, for Star Wars followers burnt out on an uneven prequel trilogy or jaded by the prospect that they could by no means have the ability to afford the resort’s roughly $5,000 price ticket, this will really feel like one other disappointment.