Disney’s Imagineers have been busy since at least 2018 working on a realistic-looking retractable lightsaber. And now, it seems it’s finally here and I’m so mad that they won’t be selling this awesome-looking device.
After many years of hoping and wondering, I’ve made my peace with the sad fact that I won’t ever get to hold a real laser sword as seen in the Star Wars films and TV shows. The tech involved and the amount of power needed just exceeds anything close to what is actually possible to pull off in 2023. And likely, if we ever do make lightsabers that can cut through droids and block energy blasts, it won’t be for a very, very long time. But until then, Disney has created the next best thing: A new handheld prop that looks like a real lightsaber, complete with a retractable glowing blade.
Last week at SXSW, Disney Parks and Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro gave a presentation about the advanced technology and science that goes into crafting the company’s famous parks, like Disney World. And while he showed off a few cool things, what I care about is the moment when he brought out a lightsaber hilt and flicked it on. A moment later a large neon-blue blade grew out of the silver hilt, complete with the iconic noise we all know from the films. The crowd audibly gasped at that moment, as I did the first time I saw it.
“I have the coolest job in the world,” said D’Amaro on stage. “I’m holding a real lightsaber.”
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To be clear: This isn’t the first time Disney has shown off this new retractable lightsaber that will (and is already limitedly being) used by certain actors in its parks and attractions. But compared to previous showings, this time around Disney’s D’Amaro seemed more relaxed and able to swing it about and turn it off and on multiple times. So it appears the tech—which is inspired by tape measures—has reached a point where everyone involved seems confident that it won’t all fall apart if someone sneezes at it.
Sadly, even if the tech seems more robust than ever, Disney appears to have no plans to sell these advanced lightsabers to dumb nerds like myself who would be willing to pay an amount of money for them that I’m both too embarrassed to publicly list and which is likely not enough. Instead, I’ll just take comfort in the fact that the upcoming Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, seems to have really good lightsaber tech in it.