Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have ever agreed to a virtual reality (VR) experience. I’m not one for having something on my face, anything obstructing my vision or wearing more than 15 pounds in equipment. However, the boys have been curious about the new Disney Springs attraction called “THE VOID” and it just seemed like the perfect gift to give them all for Christmas. So – after all the chaos of unwrapping was complete on Christmas Day, Hubby and I announced that the family would be heading to THE VOID later in the week to take on the Storm Troopers in Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire!
I was not in any way compensated for this post or my review. All opinions are 100% mine and mine alone. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
THE VOID: A trip into Hyper-Reality
THE VOID is a “hyper-reality” experience that immerses Guests in a unique opportunity to become a part of the action. As there are various locations throughout the country, there are also various “games” in which Guests can participate. Here at Disney Springs, there are two such experiences – Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is a collaboration between Disney, THE VOID, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB. It places Guests around the Rogue One era and includes virtual encounters with characters such as Captain Cassian Andor, K-2SO and the one and only Darth Vader. Under the direction of the Rebellion, Guests undertake a covert mission on the molten planet of Mustafar in search of a shipment with curious and mysterious contents.
Arriving at the Venue
We decided to parked in Lime Garage (which shockingly had room!) and came out in the middle of Town Center. I admit, this is where I thought the venue was located. However, it is actually located behind Once Upon a Toy in The Marketplace section of Disney Springs. It is right next to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and across from Earl of Sandwich.
Our initial reservation was scheduled for 11 AM on a Saturday. Hubby had made the reservation on-line with no issues whatsoever. Easy-peasy. Literally – from his phone sitting in the van in between stores on the day we were Christmas shopping together. Unfortunately, one of the boys had a scheduling conflict, so Hubby called the venue directly and was able to reschedule to Sunday at 1 PM without issue.
When we arrived, I’m not going to lie. It was a bit confusing. We saw a large group of people outside the front doors, but there were no definitive lines, so we weren’t sure where to go. We briefly split up to see if we could gather information. I went to the lines to inquire, while Hubby went inside to see if he could get some direction.
Come to find out, there WERE two lines outside ~ one for Ralph Breaks VR and the other for Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. We were instructed to enter the one for the experience we reserved and told that they would start letting people in momentarily.
Ummm – well, I guess that depends upon which galaxy you’re in and how time is defined there.
It took quite awhile to move forward. We had arrived at 12:50 PM and did not enter the building until at least 1:20 PM. Hubby (who works with process improvement) even said there could have been better oversight of the reservation slots and lines. At least it wasn’t raining, though. Right? Focus on the positive.
Time to sign our lives away
Once in, we were guided to a set of four computers. On these computers, we read through required waivers and had to digitally sign away our firstborn.
No, not really.
We simply had to sign to show that we understood the risks involved. Those outlined risks include dizziness, headaches, seizures, motion sickness, light-headedness ~ stuff like that. To be honest, it’s standard stuff for experiences where you are putting anything on your head and / or over your eyes.
It’s true – this experience is NOT going to be for everyone, particularly those prone to seizures, have heart conditions or are sensitive to full sensory immersion. However, I will say this ~ I’m someone who experiences motion sickness in the back of a car, so I don’t do attractions like Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios very well and actually completely avoid the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Magic Kingdom. You should see how crazy my boys are on that attraction!! However, this situation didn’t seem to instill too much fear in me and I personally was willing to take the risk ~ for the boys ~ this go round.
NOTE: I am not a medical professional and am not giving out medical advice. Please do your research and make your own informed decision as to whether or not this attraction is something safe for you!
FYI – there is an age limit and a height restriction for this attraction. Each participant has to be age ten or older and you have to be 48 inches or taller.
If you have members of your party under the age of 18, an adult over that age must sign for them. Fortunately, we were able to do that just once for both of the younger boys.
After signing the waivers, paper bracelets were printed out for us to wear on our wrists. This bracelet has a bar code, so make sure that stays visible! You will need it a few times in the future. From there, it was another ten minute wait before we were allowed to enter the staging room.
When finally in the staging room…
This is where we were delivered the standard briefing ~ a very common thing among Disney attractions. We entered a room with four podium screens on each side. Two of our sons were paired with another couple and went to the right while Hubby, the youngest and I were grouped together and sent to the left. The seven of us were all instructed to watch the video on the screen on the wall directly in front of us.
I won’t give away too many of the details because it should be a “first” for everyone, so we’ll just say that someone from one of the movies gives you the rundown of what is going on and what he/she needs you to do. How does that work? Is that enough information to pique your interest?
At one point during this briefing, we were asked to scan the bar code on our bracelet into the podium screen in front of us so that we could be identified. After this, we were…wait for it……wait for it…
Led into yet another line!!!!
Yes, ANOTHER line…..
This particular line led us to the equipment and gear. We were there for probably another five or ten minutes before our turn came around, but again – another one of those “lines” that needs to be what my husband would call “5-s’d.” It lacked the Disney touch to be honest – the touch that screams “streamlined and efficient.” One group in front of us was even led to the wrong VR experience. Oops!
It must have just been one of those days…We all have them.
Our two older boys went with their team first and we had the opportunity to watch them suit up for their adventure. It was actually quite interesting. They placed their personal items in a locker that was locked with a four digit code of their choice, stood in their designated spots and placed on the vest that was behind them.
Each vest is tethered to a mechanism behind each player. The best way for me to explain it is like you’re standing in line on a C-130 waiting for your turn to jump. You are tethered in until completely ready to take action and then “unhooked.” The equipment does weigh more than 15 lbs, which is part of the reason they have an age and minimum height requirement.
While we were tethered in, we were given instructions to put on our vests, fasten and tighten them for safety and comfort and then wait for the rundown on the features of the helmet we were going to wear. Our Cast Member showed us the adjustments on top for vision and on the back for fit, as well as the one on the left side for volume. We were then instructed to place the helmet on our heads, but to lift the visors.
TIP: Be sure you have the volume where you want it so that you can hear your teammates, as well as the action going on in the game.
Time to march
Once we were all geared up, we were led to a room where we were instructed to put finally our visors down.
It was amazing!! Directly in front of me I saw TWO STORM TROOPERS….not my husband and son! They each had a colored shoulder shield to signify who they were (chosen at the time we were in the staging room). However, it was actually fairly easy to tell them apart as our youngest was distinctively shorter! LOL.
But that’s besides the point – it was time to start the game!
On to the mission!
In an effort to not give away too much, I’ll try to see if I can just leave a few intriguing tidbits.
- A very pragmatic K-2SO accompanies you on the mission.
- It is full sensory!!!!
- You will feel temperature changes according to where you are.
- If you are “hit,” you will feel something on the vest, but it is NOT painful. This is why it is important to make sure the vest fits correctly while you are in the bay,so that you do experience the sensation. NOTE: it does not disqualify you or end your experience.
- You MAY feel like you are walking a tightrope, but you really aren’t. Trust me on this one.
- Don’t forget to pull the lever.
- Don’t forget to pull the trigger.
- You will feel like you are in the middle of the story.
- Should your equipment function properly, I can almost guarantee you WILL have a good time.
Okay, okay ~ you’re asking, “why did she just say ‘should your equipment function properly'”? I only say that because I have heard from friends and others who have experienced malfunctions in the middle of the game. For a few, the game actually broke down mid-mission. I personally cannot attest to that, or how it would be handled, because ours did work and we had no issues preventing us from completing the task at hand.
What did we think?
After the mission, Hubby, the youngest and I met up with the older two boys to compare thoughts. We actually all had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the immersive adventure. To be quite honest, it was an exhilarating rush when we were in the actual game – literally feeling like we were directly involved in the action. This was my very first VR encounter and I do plan to do this again.
So – while we had a good time, it’s important to list the pros and cons of this particular experience for your benefit. After chatting with the boys, here is the breakdown of their thoughts.
- You personally cannot lose.
- You cannot fall off.
- Should you have issues with equipment or otherwise, you can raise your hand at any time and a Cast Member will be there to assist you.
- It isn’t a terribly long experience. Stick with it.
- It’s all encompassing, but not oppressive (meaning, you feel the heat, but won’t break a sweat).
- No dramatic acrobatics are necessary (though the boys were a bit disappointed with this one ~ they were ready to somersault and throw in a few head dives).
Things we wish would change or hope will improve:
- Come down on the price just a little.
- Streamline the reservation and entry system.
- According to the boys, it would be nice if it actually acted as a game and kept track of each Guest’s activity. For instance, how many Storm Troopers fell at the hands of which Guest…
- Add more bays!!!
Is it worth it?
The cost of this interactive, real-time experience was $32.95 per person and there were mixed reviews in the family over whether or not it was worth that price tag. Hubby and the boys felt that it was, while I tend to lean more towards “meh – could have been a little cheaper.” (Oh, wait, I’ve already mentioned that!!) I think that’s just because I thought it would last a little longer.
Ultimately, however, the experience achieved what I wanted ~ to create a brand new family memory doing something we had never done before. We laughed, we smiled, we were engaged and we had tons to talk about after it was over. It was able to captivate the tween, the teen, the college kid and both of parents!
THAT sounds like a mission accomplished!
Three of us even have a picture to enjoy for years to come!
So ~ Are you ready to join the rebellion?
As noted above, there are actually several THE VOID locations throughout the US and Canada and tickets for any of these can be purchased at the venue or online by visiting this site here. If you are in Orlando and visiting Disney Springs, consider taking some time to travel to a galaxy far, far away to join the mission. Take some time to go in search of what this “mysterious shipment” actually contains.
Heck – if you’re into Wreck It Ralph, try the Ralph Breaks the VR experience! That looks just as awesome and just as popular!
Either way, our family of five enjoyed THE VOID experience immensely and will never forget it. Sure, we look forward to watching the technology and experience improve as time passes. We also expect to see more opportunities like this popping up in and around us! All in all, we are very glad we took the time to enjoy Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire!
Have you ever been to THE VOID? Which experience did you reserve and what did you think? Go ahead – be honest. I’d love to hear your story, so be sure to share it below!
Looking for places to eat or other activities at Disney Springs? Check out a few of my reviews!
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen (food allergy info)
- Splitsville (food allergy info)
- Morimoto Asia
- Chicken Guy
- Aerophile Balloon
LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING?
If you enjoy following along with Footprints in Pixie Dust, take a moment to consider subscribing to our email list! By doing so, you will keep up to date on the latest information and latest posts. You will also hear what’s coming before anyone else through our weekly newsletter. Interested?
BE SURE TO FOLLOW FOOTPRINTS IN PIXIE DUST ON:
- Facebook at Footprints in Pixie Dust by T.M. Brown
- Twitter at @footprintsinpd
- Instagram at @footprintsinpd