Courtesy of Disney

That galaxy far, far away just got a whole lot closer.

Carlye Wisel
October 13, 2017

Anxiously awaiting your chance to pilot the Millennium Falcon? Have your credit card ready to book a room at Disney’s immersive Star Wars hotel once it opens?

Disney’s most impressive Star Wars attraction is actually just a few short weeks from opening — and you won’t even need park admission to see it first-hand. That’s because when the “Star Wars: Secrets Of The Empire” virtual reality experience arrives at Walt Disney World and Disneyland this winter, it won’t be inside the theme parks at all.

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The new immersive experience powered by virtual reality system The Void will open within Disney’s “downtown” districts, debuting at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World in Florida on December 16th and arriving at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney in California on Jan. 5, 2018.

If you’re picturing escape room or merely slapping on a VR headset, think bigger. The half-hour “Star Wars: Secrets Of The Empire” journey is considered “hyper-reality”, boasting smell, touch and feel among the senses heightened by The Void’s integrations. Here, the virtual reality storyline sees participants traveling to a “molten planet” on behalf of the Rebellion to infiltrate and gather intelligence from an Imperial base. While going undercover as stormtroopers, they’ll shoot blasters, fight enemies and compete the treacherous task — all with the help of K-2S0, the lanky droid spotlighted in last winter’s “Rogue One.”

Courtesy of The Void

Whether you’re a regular Rebel Spy on Star Tours or hit the Launch Bay without fail on every vacation, Secrets of The Empire is bound to be the most realistic Star Wars experience you’ve had yet. Up to four guests can participate together in each timed and ticketed encounter, which costs $29.99 per person — much less than a one-day park ticket, which starts at $95.

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Though details were just announced, the technology behind “Star Wars: Secrets Of The Empire” is already wowing those who’ve come in contact with it. TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino, who previewed The Void yesterday, raved about the system. “I’ve spend hundreds of hours in VR but untethered, mobile experiences are something else,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Star Wars experience is going to be insane.”

And, with the Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed land arriving at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in over a year, this VR experience is sure to be the best glimpse you’ll get at the iconic interplanetary adventures until then.

Courtesy of The Void

This tech-savvy addition to Disney’s shopping and dining centers is just one of the company’s ambitious new retail endeavors. Last month, Disney rebranded its e-commerce website as ShopDisney, offering a wider range of products embracing the millennial audiences of its popular lifestyle sites.

The company also began testing a redesign of brick-and-mortar Disney Stores with refreshed merchandise, new layouts and a further emphasis on the theme parks, with a live feed of Walt Disney World and Disneyland’s parades each day.

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