Disney’s “Real” Lightsabers Are Technological Wizardry
In 2015, Disney filed a patent for a new theme park attraction aimed at giving guests a chance to do what any kid has always wished for — battle with a real lightsaber.
No, the weapons in Disney’s new Star Wars Land won’t be actual burning energy blades, but they will be able to “deflect” lasers, thanks to a collaboration between Disney Research’s Imagineering Labs and the former project lead of the LucasArts favorite The Curse of Monkey Island.
Picture it: you’re in a smoke filled room. You hear the swoosh of a door opening just beyond the fog. Boots clang on the floor as people file in in militaristic step. These newcomers shout out in the tinny, mechanical tones indicative of their kind. “He’s over here!” Then a shot whizzes by your head. Though Stormtroopers always miss, everyone gets lucky, and the next one clips your arm: you feel it in your chest.
With the familiar crackle of electricity, a blue glow fills the room as your lightsaber comes to life and you whirl into action. You are a blur as you deflect bolt after bolt of the relentless onslaught allowing your companions time to escape. Then the lights come back on and your time in Star Wars Land is up.
The lightsaber device, boringly coined an audience projection system in the patent filing, makes use of a genius combination of LEDs, haptic feedback, motion-tracking technology, fog machines, drones, and of course, old fashioned lasers to simulate the sensation of being bombarded with blaster fire, and blocking it, or, failing to do so. The blaster fire comes from drones firing lasers, the blasts visible thanks to the fog. The lightsaber’s haptic feedback lets the user feel, see, and hear successful blocks, and participants will wear a vest that rattles every time a shot gets through their wannabe Jedi defenses.
Slashfilm points out that the patent filing predates the announcement of Star Wars Land by more than a year. It’s also probably a bad idea, liability-wise, to put a bunch of over-excited sugar-hyped kids in the same room to wildly swing plastic light tubes, so we’ll all have to wait and see how this tech will play out in practice. That said, any possible injuries can’t be worse than what occurs at most 10-year-old’s birthday parties, and it’s a safe bet that kids and adults alike will line up to test their minerals in defense of the Lightside.