On a recent trip to Walt Disney World we finally stepped into the future with our first virtual reality experience, The VOID’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at Disney Springs.
I knew little about the experience going in other than the story is set before the events of Rogue One, and that made the experience more exciting. Not knowing who and what you’re going to encounter during the 20-ish minute adventure is how I recommend going in.
Without giving away specifics of the plot, the experience begins with a briefing from a familiar face who describes your mission. You then gear up with a vest and VR helmet and enter the game where you find yourself and up to three teammates decked out as Storm Troopers. You’re immediately immersed in the story because in addition to seeing your surroundings, there are changing temperatures, scents, and more to help set the stage. You’ll interact with elements of the set and even take possession of a weapon to defend yourself and your team against threats.
There are some problem solving elements in the game and a certain tell-it-like-it-is droid will be there to help if you get stuck in a scene too long (they’ve got to keep people moving through so the next group can move through).
All-in-all, I’d say the experience is well worth your time and money as long as you’re willing to let loose and enjoy the experience. I’m a Star Wars fan, but I’m in no way an expert in all things Star Wars like hardcore fans are. I immediately found myself getting really into the story and even found myself crouched down while under attack. You get so lost in the setting it feels like you could fall off of certain surfaces and are possibly even actually in danger even though it’s a controlled, safe environment. It’s great.
A few tips. We went on a weekday night in May before the busy summer season, so there were plenty of open times and we didn’t buy advance tickets. You don’t bypass the processing fees by purchasing tickets onsite (as we were hoping to do), so I’d recommend buying your tickets online and reserving a time slot in advance to avoid waiting in line when you get there. I’m sure during busier times you won’t be able to walk up and buy tickets. If you buy tickets in advance, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to Disney Springs and make your way to The VOID. It’s in the Marketplace section of the Springs between Once Upon a Toy and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Secure lockers are available for free to store any bags or other loose items while you’re in the game. There is also a photo op at the end of the experience. While one of our photos was really amusing and I’d love to have it framed on our wall, it costs more than $15 for an onsite print and digital file and we didn’t think it was worth it.
Last, in addition to being available at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort and Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is also available at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, CA, the Grand Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas, NV, and at Westfield Stratford City in London, UK. There is also a VOID Ghostbusters experience available in various cities. I’m personally excited to try that one the next time I’m in New York.
Find more information at www.thevoid.com