star wars

Star Wars: The Virtual Reality Experience

That’s right, I’m a real Rebel now. In the distant VOID planet in the Downtown Disney galaxy, I ventured into the final frontier to explore the immersive, super-ultra-mega-nerd Star Wars VR experience. I’d been dying to try this, and I finally convinced a friend to come with me. (Who knew some people don’t want to go public with their fandom.) If you live in the SoCal area and are thinking of going yourself, I’ll share our mission breakdown with you.

My friend and I came by ourselves, but you go through the mission in a team of four. So, they paired us with a guy and girl around our age. While we were waiting for our turn, a staff member asked us Star Wars trivia. Us girls answered the basic questions and I tried to give the floor to the guy, but apparently neither him or the girl knew all that much about Star Wars. I guess they just wanted to enjoy the virtual reality.

Then the staff member gave us a harder question: Who designed the Death Star? I’m ashamed to admit that my friend and I could not remember to save our lives. It had clearly been too long since either of us saw Rogue One. (FYI, it’s Galen Erso in case you have a bad memory like me.)

Shortly after, we went inside, and we see a transmission from none other than Captain Cassian from Rogue One. (Obviously I remembered his name, too few Mexicans in Star Wars to forget.) Our mission, as you can guess, was set in the time of the Empire before the events of A New Hope. Cassian told us we had a recon assignment to find out what top secret evil doo-hickey the Empire was hiding in a large capsule.

As soon as the transmission was over, the staff member asked if we understood what our mission was. And then me, with my stupid overachieving student impulse, was the first to raise my hand and answer. Immediately, the staff member told me that I was now the captain of the mission and would lead our team into either life or death. “You might not make it out,” he said. “Just remember that some of your team members are expendable.”

Oh my Jabba. What the heck was going to happen to us? I did NOT sign up for virtual death. While the others and I were freaking out, we put on our helmets and our (surprisingly heavy) vests. We flipped down our visors, and suddenly we were stormtroopers in disguise on a ship headed toward an Imperial base on Mustafar. Gulp. Luckily, an unnamed pilot and K2-SO (AKA the sassiest droid alive) were there with us.

Upon arrival, we went down a hallway to collect blasters, and then suddenly we’re on a ledge overlooking the lava on Mustafar. Kid you not, we could feel literal heat radiating toward us. We didn’t have much time to take it in, because suddenly our ruse was discovered and other stormtroopers were shooting at us. I’m sure we all had terrible aim, but is it wrong to say how much fun I had killing off all the stormtroopers?

Once we escape the stormtroopers and lava(!) monsters, we fond K2-SO in another room, where he told us to follow the color combinations on a row of buttons to open the Mysterious Capsul. I had to scramble to get the right codes in because the others were busy shooting at a fresh wave of stormtroopers, and I panicked so hard I messed up a combination at least twice. I know it was fake high stakes, but I still panicked.

We finally got the capsule open, and it was a – do you care about spoilers for this? – light saber blade that reminded me of The Clone Wars, though I’m not sure if there was another Easter Egg fact behind that. Just when we thought we were in the clear… a red light saber ignites. Y’ALL. Darth Vader showed up and we knew we were gonna die. We understood it was pointless, but we shot with all our might at Vader and another flood of storm troopers. He killed our unnamed pilot with the mysterious blade (think beetle on a stick), and we were not looking forward to being next.

But before Vader could get to us, we had a deus ex machina rescue in the form of K2-SO plowing through stormtroopers with a ship and knocking Vader aside like a Dark Side Domino. My friend couldn’t believe that Vader was bested by, as she called it, a “space bus.” As soon as were safe on our space bus, we were greeted by an astromech droid, and to my geekish delight you could reach out and actually touch it. We all petted the droid like a puppy dog, and it was glorious.

Once we got off, they took our picture, and if you think I didn’t immediately fork over fifteen bucks for a copy then you don’t know me at all. The guy on my team told me that after the staff member made the “expendable” comment, he thought for sure I’d shoot them all before the mission started. I told him I would have just shot him so the ladies could really get the job done. Wink, wink.

The VR experience itself is $35 on the weekend (slightly cheaper during the week), so topped with the photograph the whole thing cost fifty bucks. I thought it was definitely worth it, especially if you haven’t had a full-blown VR experience before. If you’re thinking of going, I’d recommend going with a group of four so that you’ll all be together and know each other already, but any even number is probably good. Unfortunately there’s not much going on in the Downtown Disney area these days, other than restaurants and a few stores, but it might make a nice day trip to Anaheim for you and your friends. Also, don’t forget to get your parking validated at the VR place. We totally did.

That’s the end of my mission report. Over and out!

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