I visited ‘Disney’s Hollywood Studios‘ a couple Christmas’s ago to find that they upped their Star Wars game with themed firework shows, Storm Trooper parades, and a more robust selection of Star Tours adventures. Still, it felt like they had more gift shops from a galaxy far, far away than attractions. That’s all about to change. A panel at the ‘Star Wars Celebration’ in Orlando revealed some exciting new plans for the Star Wars Lands that are due to become fully functional in 2019. One revelation is that they will factor in personalized data accessible through Magic Bands.
A Magic Band, for the uninitiated, is the thing you wear to do stuff at Disney. It’s the room key at Disney properties, it’s your credit card at the parks, it’s your FastPass for the rides. It’s also a bracelet with two radio antennas so that it may communicate information to both short-range scanners and long-range beacons anywhere the Mouse calls home. What kind of information? Well, during my last trip to ‘Magic Kingdom’, a ghost sat next to me in the ‘Haunted Mansion’ and held up a digital sign threatening to visit me in my hometown. Yeah, part of my home address was displayed within the ride.
The question is, what does this mean for your future ‘Star Wars Land’ experience? It means the experience will be trackable. The Star Wars Celebration panel promised that there will be a connection from experience to immersive experience. You may be prompted to choose a side between the First Order and the Resistance and that choice will inform the rest of your day. A wandering Stormtrooper could demand to see your identification and scan your band. The scan would display your allegiance to the trooper and inspire comradeship with fellow First Order members and hostility to anyone else. Automated droids could be placed throughout the park which might scan your band and perform a service for visitors that align with their sensibilities. An R2 until could take a picture for Resistance folk, for instance, and that image would be saved to the PhotoPass associated with the Magic Band user. And imagine if those sensors tied to your wrist could pick up hand gestures associated with Force powers? The possibilities are endless!
According to Walt Disney World News Today, Disney is asking guests if they’d want an in-park Star Wars themed resort. This would be the ultimate in immersion, making the ‘Star Wars Land’ choices logged within visitor’s Bands inform the experience all the way to the bedroom. Creepy? Maybe, but a small price to pay to have the Cantina Band playing outside your room. The resort would likely be a starship within the new planet the park is themed around. It’s an unprecedented move. Disney resorts are often themed to either locations or characters, but the closest they get to actually being inside a park is being monorail adjacent. It’ll also be expensive and possibly all-inclusive. Think a grand per guest, which honestly isn’t as bad as it sounds if it includes a couple nights and a couple park tickets. More information is expected at D23 Expo in July.
Steven is a relativistically-locked time-traveler. Follow him on Twitter for insights from the present.