A couple of weeks ago, my family and I visited Disney World. We arrived on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. Instead of heading directly to one of the parks, we decide to explore Disney Springs. The last time we visited Disney Springs, it was known as Downtown Disney. Disney Springs contains a plethora of shops and restaurants. After some window shopping, my daughter asks if anyone wants to check out a Star Wars reality experience.
? My son-in-law attempts to explain what this means. The name of the place is the VOID.
Initially, I think this place is a video arcade. As we approach the entrance, I ask what the VOID is. One of the helpful employees tells us that the VOID is a full sensory, immersive experience. I give the college age looking kid a blank look at this statement. My daughter chimes in, “It’s a virtual reality experience.”
Okay, so I’m still not sure what this means, but being the group leader that I am, I decide that all 5 of us are going to try it.
After I pay and sign my life away, I am informed that we will have to split our group of five into two groups. No more than four people can go on a mission. Okay, that does not make me immediately happy. Isn’t there safety in numbers?
The more I hear about this mission, the more anxious I become.
“Does anything touch you?” I nervously ask another college aged kid.
“No. Nothing touches you at any time,” he reassures me.
Someone must have flagged me as a problem participant, because an older guy, maybe in his late 30’s, attempts to answer my questions.
At this point, I have several questions. Namely, will I survive?
Initially, my 20 year old son is going to accompany my daughter and her husband.
“You’re abandoning your mother?” I squeak.
“You’re coming with us,” my husband notifies my son.
My son gives a resigned sigh and agrees to accompany my husband and myself.
You may have figured out by now that I’m the biggest baby in the group. I hate when people or objects jump out at me. I have strong lungs, which my family and others have been privileged to hear on numerous occasions. I also have a very vivid imagination.
Another employee? At this point, they all look the same, tells me that if at anytime the experience is too much, I can raise my hand and/or raise my visor.
What visor? You’re putting something over my face?
“It’s just like going skiing,” my husband tells me.
Visor employee places the helmet on my head and lowers the visor. I try to raise it, but it won’t budge. I start hyperventilating. There is no air in space or under this helmet.
“It won’t raise,” I say. My voice is steadily increasing in volume.
Another helpful employee raises the visor for me. I take a deep breath of air.
“I don’t want to be in the back,” I inform everyone.
“Alexander will be in the front and I will be behind you. You can hang on to us, if you’re scared,” my husband says.
We’re briefed on some type of mission. We need to get something, I’m not sure what it is. Mentally, I keep telling myself that Disney won’t let anything bad happen to me. It becomes my mantra.
In addition to having the no-air helmet, we are carrying a 20 pound backpack on our back. As backpack employee assists me into a vest with an attached backpack, I wobble unsteadily. My husband reaches over before I can topple over. Okay, I’m ready. Bring it on, I guess.
As we lower our visors, we are no longer at Disney Springs but somewhere in space. A storm trooper tells us to sit down in preparation for our flight into space. A few seconds later, we arrive at our destination. A door opens and my son, who is now a storm trooper, moves forward. I reach for him in a panic and break my newly manicured nail.
“I broke my nail,” I wail.
No one hears me. Evidentially you can’t breathe or hear in space or under this helmet. Someone informs me that we are not in space, but on the planet, Mustafar. Could have fooled me.
The air is noticeably warmer, there’s lava everywhere. We’re on a bridge with empty lava filled space below us. Okay, I like heights. This is cool. I look over the edge. We need to cross a sky bridge over the lava. My husband isn’t wild about this part, but I love it.
So far, so good. Next, we descend an elevator. I almost take my storm trooper son out by tripping and crashing into him. Thankfully, he knows me too well.
We walk aimlessly around and finally find the armory. Alexander grabs a blaster. I take the blaster from him, thinking that he meant to hand it to me. After we have our blasters, couldn’t they provide us with bigger weapons, we encounter storm troopers. The storm troopers are shooting at us. I scream as my vest starts vibrating. I’ve been hit by one of the storm troopers. I start shooting back. I hit the wall. I get hit again. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, is the thought that I might want to seek cover. Instead, I stand in the middle and am hit repeatedly. People are screaming around me. I’m later informed that I was the only one screaming. I strongly disagree with these eyewitness statements.
Next, what the hell? It’s a lava monster. We start shooting at the lava monster. Oh no, it’s coming toward me. I back up against a wall and raise my visor. Yea, no lava monster. Just some gray walls. I lower my visor and sigh in relief, the lava monster has been defeated.
We walk through a door that has been blasted open and we enter a room where a rebel droid informs us that we have to enter a code to open another door. While my husband and I are attempting to do this, Alexander engages the storm troopers that keep trying to blast us. The droid finally gives up on us and opens the door for us.
As we walk through the door, we see a storm trooper on a cat walk. My husband blasts him. My son tells us not to shoot him because he’s on our side. The storm trooper grabs a weapon, which is a light saber, then my worst nightmare appears.
Ever since I was kid, I’ve been terrified of Darth Vader. The moment I hear his breathing, my anxiety level reaches an all time high. Initially, I try blasting him, but he quickly deflects my shots. He slowly approaches. He is right in front of us. This is it. I lift my visor and turn to flee. Two employees are standing there. One is smiling while the other is laughing. I motion that I want out of there. Smiling employee tells me everything is fine. He tells me to put my visor back on. I shake my head, no.
“It’s okay,” he reassures me. “Put your visor back on.”
I resign myself to the fact that I’m not going to get out of there, unless I put my visor back on. As I lower the visor, I’m relieved to discover that Darth Vader is gone and we accomplished the mission. I’m not sure how we accomplished this mission, but I think if you’re alive to tell the story, then you’re doing good.
As we exit the experience, I inquire about my daughter. “Is she okay?”
“Yea,” a confused looking employee admits.
We are concerned that she might have fainted due to her aversion to heights. In actuality, I almost fainted from fright.
As we reach the photo taking area, my daughter and son-in-law are waiting to pose for a family picture.
“Mom, you screamed the entire time,” my daughter informs me.
“I don’t think so. There were other people screaming as well, weren’t there?”
“No,” my son-in-law says.
As we replace our equipment and exit to pay for the pictures, I ask the employees working the desk, “Did you hear me scream.”
It’s obvious they had been laughing. “No,” they simultaneously reply while shaking their heads, yes.
People may not be able to hear you screaming in space, but they can certainly hear you scream in the VOID.
My entire family LOVED the experience.