Star Wars Secrets of the Empire is a collaboration between Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. We will give you the low down and the new Star Wars Secrets of the Empire Experience in London. What to expect, how much it costs and is it worth it. Now when news first came out about what Disney was cooking up we were pretty excited here at Explore Virtual Reality Now. Hyper Reality for Star Wars is another step closer to stepping into the Holodeck from Star Trek The Next Generation.
What is Hyper Reality when it comes to VR?
Well, imagine you are using the HTC VIVE. If you have never used the HTC VIVE, let me explain. It is a VR headset that not only allows you to look around your virtual environment, but also tracks your movement within a designated area, like your living room. Hyper Reality is one step up. It combines a real world environment with the features like the VIVE. It other words, if you try to pick up a blaster gun in the virtual Star Wars world, you actually pick up a blaster-like object in the real world. And yes, you do feel it when hit by a blaster. You see a bench or chair in the virtual world and try to sit in it, you actually sit in a chair or on a bench in the real world. It really gives an immersive experience. Plus with the vive you need a controller to interact with your virtual world. In this experience it tracks your hands, so no need for a controller. You also have no limitations on movement within your environment. I will explain that more later.
What is the Star Wars Secrets of the Empire Experience like?
Here is the run down on what to expect after you buy your tickets. First you sign a waiver, of course, in case you trip and crack your head open or have a heart attack while playing. Next you go into a small room where you get a mission briefing via a screen on the wall. They tell you that you are on an important mission and will be disguised as storm troopers. This helps get you in Star Wars mode and excited to become part of the story.
After that you leave the room and walk along a corridor to put on your VR gear. It is actually set up really nicely as your VR suits or hanging from the wall and you just sort of slip into them and they unhook it from the wall and you tighten up the strap, dawn your head gear and you are ready to go. You do not put down your head visor yet. No cell phone use beyond this point, so get your selfie shots done here before the next staging area.
Once ready you continue to the start of the experience. You and everyone in your group (up to 4 people) head into a small room. It is just a basic room with 4 walls and a door. They tell you the experience is about to start and one by one you are told to put down your visors. Bam! You are visually transported into a Star Wars environment. Your friends who were just a few seconds ago in their jeans and shirt are now storm troopers. You look down at your hands and they are storm troopers hand and you can wave them around as if they are your real hands.
Your headsets have intercoms in them and you tell one of your friends to wave at you and the storm trooper across form you waves. No time to settle into your new world, the mission has begun. The craziest thing about this experience is the fact that you are interacting with physical objects within the virtual world. At one point in the experience you are told to follow along a narrow ramp and onto a pad above hot lava. It was very weird walking across the virtual ramp as you actually feel as if you are walking across a ramp and could fall off the side. I have no idea what it looked like in the real world, probably just a basic room again. You could also feel the heat from the lava and smell the smoke. Another great addition that makes it Hyper Reality.
There are also points when you must sit down, crouch, get into a blaster shoot out with other storm troopers, punch in a code to open a door and even a cameo from Darth Vader. All in all the experience takes no more than 20-30 minutes, but it is an action packed, remarkable and unique time.
How much does Star Wars Secrets of the Empire cost and is it worth it?
Disney is putting this experience near their theme parks. Currently at Downtown Disney in California and Disney Springs in Florida for $30 USD. They have a temporary set up in Westfield Mall in London, you can expect to pay $30 -32.50 British Pounds depending on the time and date. It is pretty expensive for 20 minutes of fun. I would say if you have very little experience with VR, it will blow your mind and well worth the price for such a unique experience. Like paying for a bungee jump or zipline.
If you are a VR junkie, it will not impress you as much, but of course as a VR junkie, why would you pass up this unique next step in VR technology. I would imagine the price will come down in the future and as VR and AR tech is evolving very fast, I am sure it will not be long before we will start to see other experiences like this with even more immersion. Please sign up for our email list and follow us on social channels to get our latest articles, tips and experiences in the VR and AR world.