Void VR Review: Star Wars Secrets of the Empire
The Void VR offers two interactive virtual reality walk-through experiences at Walt Disney World; Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR. We recently did the former game and will review the level of immersion, quality, and whether it’s worth the money here.
If you’re unfamiliar with the the Void, it’s a location at Disney Springs behind Once Upon A Toy and next door to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Marketplace. The Void is a full sensory, immersive experience offering multi-person, location-based entertainment. Participants walk into hyper-reality VR settings rendered in real-time that combine with interactive sets, real-time effects, and amazing technology.
Star Wars — Secrets of the Empire is set just before the events of Rogue One. In teams of up to 4 people, you join the rebellion disguised as stormtroopers and travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Alongside the droid K-2S0, teams navigate and blast through an enemy facility in an effort to fulfill your team’s orders.
After going through the check-in process and watching a short pre-show that establishes the goal of the mission, guests are equipped with the wearable virtual reality equipment. This means a vest and helmet, which felt like they weighed about 10 pounds. This equipment is then fitted to guests and Cast Members ensure everyone has a clear view through the VR headsets.
The actual mission lasts around 15 minutes, with the whole visit to the Void from check-in to exit taking 30 minutes at Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire. It’s enough time to make for a satisfying experience, but you’re also left wanting more.
I felt like the grandma from Carousel of Progress the entire time–albeit without the same blaster skills–it seemed like we were really in the ship! Every wall, item, and character you see while wearing the VR headset is physically there. If something is within reach, you can actually touch it (or in my case, run into it).
This was established and reinforced early on as you navigated around and picked up blasters. The physical environment coupled with the environmental effects (temperature, smells, air blasts, rumbling floors, etc.) really sold the experience from the get-go. This made it easy to suspend disbelief and removed the lingering notion that we were wearing VR headsets and looking at screens.
The graphics and real-time rendering are also really strong. In both regards, the best I’ve had from a VR attraction. There was no noticeable lag and the graphics were exceptional thanks to a collaboration with ILMxLAB. Technology being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if we look back on VR in a decade and think of this as quaint, but in the here and now, it blew me away.
One thing I would’ve liked is a brief warm-up round facilitated by a Cast Member. I’ve done VR coasters and other things before, but never anything truly interactive. It definitely took both of us a while to ‘find our legs’ and get comfortable. We also did a really poor job communicating with one another, and I think part of that is because the whole notion of a virtual reality game was so foreign to us.
I also would’ve liked more time to simply wander and explore. The highlight of the walk-through for me was the beginning (fans of the Rome scene in Spaceship Earth will rejoice at this scene!) before any of the action took place. This truly is a multi-sensory experience and the walk-through component is really strong. Don’t get me wrong, blasting stormtroopers is fun, but I would’ve been perfectly happy just walking around such an immersive environment.
With that said, Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire was absolutely awesome. From the environments and effects to the pacing of the action and puzzles, it’s pretty much perfect. We were pretty bad at following orders when it came to the puzzles and a few other interactions, which had an effect on our experience (but not for the worse). Point being, even if you’re bad at video games, blasting stormtroopers, etc., you’ll still have a fun time.
In terms of pricing, tickets are typically $35-38 per person after tax. Appointments can be made in advance every 15 minutes. In perusing current availability, that’s not totally necessary unless you’re visiting on a particularly busy weekend.
As for whether the Void is worth the money, that’s tough to answer. (In the interest of full disclosure, our visit was comped.) The experience from start to finish ends up costing a little over $1 per minute. That makes it significantly more expensive than time spent in the Walt Disney World theme parks.
However, it’s mind-blowing to step foot into such an immersive and multi-sensory world via an experience that’s fairly lengthy and elaborate. Plus, this type of limited-capacity, small group activity would be tough to replicate in a more demanding theme park setting. If money is no concern and you’re a Star Wars fan, this is probably the best and most memorable ‘attraction’ you can do at Walt Disney World right now.
We are only casual Star Wars fans, but found this to be incredibly fun and well-executed; the Void far exceeded my expectations. While I wouldn’t pay to do this version of the Void again, I would for the ‘Ghostbusters Dimension’ mission in Las Vegas. If the Void ever made a Terminator or Jurassic Park experience, I’d do those in an instant. (I’d likewise pay pretty much whatever they wanted to charge for a walk-through of the original Journey into Imagination.)
Finally, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run offers a vaguely similar type of interactive attraction (minus the VR), but we’d argue that the duration, intimacy of the experience, and complete control offered by Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is superior to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Obviously, that’s not an apples to apples comparison; just throwing it out there as something to consider for families of Star Wars fans who want to continue their Galaxy’s Edge experience (or perhaps don’t score a Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding group).
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Have you done the Void VR? Did you do Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire or Ralph Breaks VR? Was it worth the money? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
My family are huge SW fans, so when my husband and I were at WDW last September, we made this a must do – and are still raving about it. The whole experience was awesome, and just amazing to us (we are approx 60yrs old, so all this VR is waaaay beyond stuff we grew up with. Grandma in ‘Carousel of Progress is totally appropriate.). I am a ‘fluffy’ woman, so I was tentative about the equipment, but it fit me fine. We played with 2 others and had to work together to save the day – and laughed a lot when we had trouble entering some codes at one point and the voiceover says “You’re not very good at this, are you?” Too funny! I wasn’t sure if it would feel phony or cartoonish, but it was absolutely immersive. Can’t wait to go back on our next trip!
We did it on opening day and have gone back with different groups of friends since. Totally worth every penny! My main complaint is that I wish I was longer!
Any idea if they have an age minimum? We are going to WDW next month for my son’s bday. He will be 7 and would LOVE this!
Thanks to anyone that may know. 🙂
I don’t know that there’s an age requirement, but there’s a minimum height requirement of 48” (at least at Disneyland; I’d assume it’s the same in WDW)
Thanks Ian. I went to the website and read the fine print. You need to be 10 years old, with parent/guardian. Height is not his problem. 7 years old won’t cut it. Good thing we didn’t mention it. 😉
“I felt like the grandma from Carousel of Progress the entire time—albeit without the same blaster skills” Now that is FUNNY
This sounds awesome, actually! When I heard of the VR experiences on other blogs, I guess I never really read them, and thought they were pop-up events. Glad to know that’s not the case, since I know my husband would love to try this.
The price doesn’t sound that bad, either. Seems like a better experience for the price, considering we’ve paid over $20 a person for those escape rooms just to hold a couple of laminated sheets of paper and look for hidden objects in one small room.
I’ve done it twice at Downtown Disney in Anaheim (with a different companion each time), and found it to be a ton of fun. I don’t think I’d want to do it with the same group of people over and over, but I definitely would go again if I’m introducing someone new to it.
The immersive nature of it was excellent, catering to almost all the senses (I wasn’t brave enough or dumb enough to try tasting anything =p ). I agree that having more time to explore and get acclimated would be nice, but it was still a very impressive setup they had there.
Definitely the kind of thing everyone should try once if they’re even casual SW fans.
I read so many gushing reviews like this one (and your commenters) that perhaps I had my expectations too high. I enjoyed the experience, but I would give it a 7-8/10 instead of a 10/10.
A friend has a nicely setup HTC Vive VR rig, so I’ve experienced good VR before and I was expecting to be blown away by having a fully immersive environment. However the environment was… small. I thought with 15-minutes start times you would be staggered walking your way through a large warehouse. But instead multiple groups start at once and your individual area is actually pretty small.
It also felt like you were walking through a pre-scripted story and that your actions really didn’t have that much affect on what happened. So, again, it was a neat experience but not as good as I’d hoped.
Best VR experience I’ve done. Multisensory, great graphics, and actually CHEAPER than another VR experience in a different resort months before. I would do it again with a different scenario for sure.
Forget Jurassic Park and Terminator versions of the VR experience; with the Fox acquisition, Disney could fold in an Aliens version…
I’m actually hoping that the Imagineers will be tasked with making a new Aliens ride for Hollywood Studios. I think it would be a thematic match as well as a great slate to form a thrill ride around.
Our family if 5 did this in February. It was so much fun. However, I too would have liked some time to walk around and get used to my environment. I’m not a gamer and I have never done VR. It would have been much more fun had I not felt so rushed.
Our family of 4, including “boys” in their twenties, did this last May. It was freakin’ awesome! I had no problem with the cost. Heck, there are plenty of entertainment opportunities everywhere (not just at WDW) that cost about $30-40, and we all thought this was worth it! I do agree it would have been nice to have a little time to get adjusted to it at the beginning. I’m sure most people, like us, have never done this level of VR where you actually walk into rooms and physically pick up objects with your hands. Just took a little getting used to. And we struggled as well with communicating at first and figuring out some things, but eventually got better, and the overall experience was great, especially the part where….well, don’t want to spoil it for anyone.