Be Like Hank Lonely. Do Star Wars VR.
From now through July 31st, Meta Quest 2 is hosting a free preview of “Star Wars: Tales from Galaxy’s Edge” in the old
DisneyQuest NBA Experience space across from House of Blues. I heard about this opportunity through a friend on Instagram, and since I was heading to the Orlando area for a day before a work trip, I sent a hologram message to my friend Hank Lonely and asked if he’d like to join me on this Star Wars adventure. So you can be sure that my opinions are fully my own. Despite being with a celebrity, we received no special treatment. Shocking. I just want to share our experience with you so that you can decide if it might be a fun diversion worth your time during a summer trip you might already have planned.
Reserving a Time
You can’t make any reservations for the VR experience online or significantly in advance. Instead, starting at noon each day, you can walk over to the location, scan a QR code, and reserve a time for later in the day. Or, you can use the walk-up line at any point in the day.
I arrived at Disney Springs around 12:30pm on a Tuesday, and there was maybe one other person there trying to make a reservation, and zero people doing walk-up. When I pulled up the reservation site, there was availability every 15 minutes for the entire rest of the day.
One note if you are travelling as a group – you can only make reservations as parties … of one. That’s right. Everyone needs their own reservation, so you have to scan and go through the process multiple times if you’re reserving for multiple people. I was assured that there would be plenty of opportunity for me to choose the exact same time slot for each member of my party. And sure enough, I was able to click 6:00 pm three times and reserve for each of us (me, Hank, and our intrepid photographer/recorder of all of Hank’s adventures – the wonderful and patient Chrissy).
On this particular hot and sunny day in Disney Springs, Hank Lonely was melting in his vest and curtain of hair, so we decided to go try to check in 30 minutes early for our reservation to get out of the sun and heat. Thankfully, there was only a tiny walk-up line, and we were easily accommodated. When you check in (whether walk-up or returning for your reservation), you are required to sign a lengthy waiver. This makes sure you won’t sue if you injure yourself. I mean, really, if you injure yourself in this experience, it is obviously going to be your own fault.
Once inside the building after signing the waiver, you are taken to either the walk-up or the reservation line. I view these like the standby and
FastPass FastPass+ Lightning Lane queues. The reservation line doesn’t totally empty before they take walk-ups, but it does obviously take precedence. They were having some sort of problem getting a few of the “pods” up and running while we waited, so even in the reservation line with 5 whole people in front of us, we had about a 20 minute wait for our pods.
No big spoilers here – that wouldn’t be any fun. But I will go over the logistics. You are taken one at a time to a “pod” (basically a big partition of the room). You may bring one spectator with you to your pod, but it’s only one participant per pod. And no more than one spectator. Usually. We saw them allowing exceptions a few times while we were there. It looked like there were 8 potential pods all operating at once.
A helpful cast member talks you through what you’re about to experience, and first walks you through the hand controls, then fits the headset on you. They also stay in the pod with you and give you helpful tips if you need them throughout the experience.
As far as content is concerned, you get to enjoy about 10-12 minutes of the “adventure”. You start in a bar (with a cool overhead view of Galaxy’s Edge), where you can eat Ronto Wraps, throw darts, partake in some beverages, or listen to what little storyline exists. I highly recommend just wandering around. And when I say wander, I mean stay very still in your small circle of allotted space, and just turn in circles and then click buttons to “teleport”.
Then, at a certain point about midway through the time, the doors to the bar open and you can go outside. Once there, some blasters and a big ax and some “shield spheres” are available for you to pick up and use. I accidentally mistook my shield spheres for target practice and very effectively destroyed all of them. I may have also picked up the axe and tried to mine the nearby rocks while singing “Heigh Ho”.
Then if you follow a trail back into the mountains, adventures may ensue. For a minute or two. It helps at this point if you haven’t hit all of your shield spheres with friendly fire. Just saying.
Once you complete your preview, you are asked to fill out a survey. I like providing people with data to improve their products (hint hint to all of you TouringPlans customers or potential customers …), so this wasn’t a big deal. In return, each survey-taker received a postcard, a water bottle, and (if you provided an email address), a $25 virtual credit toward a Meta Quest purchase.
This experience was totally worth the time spent. Even if you don’t go to Disney Springs often, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour of your time there. The VR itself was visually impressive. I wish I could’ve walked around, and I have minor quibbles about some of the interactions. But really for a free experience with minimal time commitment, I was very pleased.
Have questions about the VR preview? Or suggestions about the next adventure of Hank Lonely? Let me know in the comments!
3 thoughts on “Be Like Hank Lonely. Do Star Wars VR.”
“I mean, really, if you injure yourself in this experience, it is obviously going to be your own fault.”
I have this game on my Meta Quest. I once tried to dive behind a rock to avoid blaster fire in-game, and wound up diving head first into a TV in reality. I’ve done the similar things on the table tennis game. It’s feels that real!
I’m almost afraid to ask: What’s the cost?