Disney brings epic ‘Star Wars’ experiences to fans | VailDaily.com

Disney brings epic ‘Star Wars’ experiences to fans

Liana Moore
Special to the Daily

Six years ago in October 2012, Disney announced a deal to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. The real value that Disney has brought to fans in taking over the franchise is the opportunity for fans to now to experience "Star Wars" adventures themselves. These experiences immerse fans in the "Star Wars" galaxies so they feel as though they are living out the story themselves.

At Disney World, Disneyland and aboard select Disney Cruises young fans can become padawans and briefly train with lightsabers before having the opportunity to fight Darth Vader or Darth Maul at Jedi Training. Fans of all ages can meet "Star Wars" characters in the same places. More recently, fans in several locations throughout the United States and Canada can have their very own "Star Wars" virtual reality adventure at the VOID locations. Additionally, there will be more exciting "Star Wars" experiences coming for fans in 2019 and 2020.

"Star Wars" Character Meet-and-Greet

Just as you can meet and have your photo taken with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, you can meet Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, stormtroopers and others at Disney World, Disneyland and aboard select Disney Cruises. Generally, this experience isn't as interactive as the others below. However, on the Star Wars Day at Sea, characters roam floors three through five of the Disney Fantasy throughout the day. We just happened to explore this area and bump into Imperial Officers. The officers did not stray from their roles. It was quite the experience watching them threaten to arrest passengers. Tip: The Disney Cruise app can be helpful in locating these wandering characters.

Star Wars Rides

At both Disney World's Hollywood Studios and at Disneyland fans make the jump to hyperspace on a thrilling tour of the "Star Wars" galaxy aboard a Starspeeder 1000 on the Star Tours — The Adventures Continue 3D ride. Featuring state-of-the-art technology this 3D ride immerses you in the "Star Wars" mythology for an intergalactic adventure.

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Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

Our kids experienced Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple at the Star Wars Day at Sea aboard our Disney Cruise. Every child is provided with a Jedi robe and lightsaber. They then participate as a group to train and then fight the Empire. Then, the padawan wannabes fight Darth Vader or Darth Maul one-on-one. Our nine-year-old was disappointed that the battle was only three swings and one duck, but she also said her heart was pounding so hard it almost jumped out of her chest. Our five-year-old was about to tell Darth Vader that he's his favorite character when Darth Vader started swinging. Seeing as they have a Jedi training game going now at home with friends I still think it was a hit, despite any minor disappointments. This special "Star Wars" experience is also available at Disney World's Hollywood Studios and at Disneyland.

Star Wars Nighttime Spectaculars

State-of-the-art projection effects, dynamic lighting, lasers and pyrotechnics light up the night at Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The music, magic and characters of "Star Wars" combine with special effects and fireworks to put you inside iconic scenes from the "Star Wars" saga.

A similar show entertains fans aboard Disney Cruise Line's Star Wars Day at Sea. Fans experience the saga's most iconic moments on deck during this thrilling nighttime stage show starring Rey and other popular "Star Wars" characters. The evening concludes with fireworks set to John Williams' "Star Wars" score as the sky lights up above.

Star Wars Virtual Reality at Disney World

My favorite "Star Wars" experience at Disney World was The VOID's Star Wars virtual reality experience. Here, fans don virtual reality gear and enter a hyper reality world of a "Star Wars" adventure. Your team steps into an immersive world disguised as stormtroopers to embark on a rebel mission to capture Imperial intelligence. The great news is that now you don't even have to be in Orlando to experience it. Fans can currently experience The VOID's "Secrets of the Empire" in Anaheim, Dallas, Edmonton, Glendale, Las Vegas and London in addition to Orlando, Florida. It is also coming soon to Austin, Texas, Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia, Hollywood, California, Minneapolis and Santa Monica, California.

Coming in 2019:

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

This new visionary Star Wars-themed land is coming to both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. Disney promises it is "ultra-immersive" and a place where "Star Wars" characters and their stories will come to life. This is not hard to believe. The Galaxy's Edge is slated to open in Disneyland first sometime around summer 2019 and then sometime around fall 2019 at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Black Spire Outpost is the name of the village inside of the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. As the largest settlement on the planet Batuu, Black Spire Outpost is an infamous stop for traders, adventurers and smugglers traveling around the Outer Rim and Wild Space.

Fans will have the opportunity to visit Olga's Cantina, a notorious local watering hole on Batuu. Run by an intriguing alien proprietor, Olga Garra, the cantina has a history of being a smugglers' safe haven and a popular stopping point for those seeking to avoid the authorities.

Highlights feature two signature attractions. One experience will include the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission. The other attraction is an epic "Star Wars" adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

Luxury Star Wars Hotel near Disney World's Hollywood Studios

There aren't many details that have yet been released on this new luxury Star Wars-themed hotel in the works. There is no opening date, so likely it will be after 2019. But it certainly sounds like a truly special experience for the "Star Wars" fan.

Families visiting the new Star Wars-inspired hotel coming to Walt Disney World Resort will board a starship alive with characters and stories that unfold during their voyage through the galaxy — and every window has a view of space. The resort will be seamlessly connected to Galaxy's Edge land at Disney's Hollywood Studios, allowing guests a complete "Star Wars" experience.

For each "Star Wars" hotel guest, their individual story and movements follow them throughout Galaxy's Edge and back to the hotel throughout the course of their stay. Hotel guests can accept personalized secret missions to further enhance their own individual stories.

Liana Moore is chief mama blogger at Insider Families and marketing director at Antlers at Vail. She can be reached at http://www.insiderfamilies.com, https://www.instagram.com/insiderfamilies, facebook.com/InsiderFamilies or liana@insiderfamilies.com.