Ever since young Luke Skywalker first wielded a lightsaber in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” the now-legendary weapon has captured the imaginations of Star Wars fans. It may have taken nearly 44 years, but it now appears Disney has figured out how to make a “real” one.
On May 4, aka “Star Wars Day,” Disney shared a first look at a new lightsaber as part of a Disney Parks Blog announcement of the 2022 launch date of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the Star Wars-themed hotel coming to Walt Disney World. In the short video, a Rey lookalike turns around to reveal she’s holding a lightsaber and activates the glowing blue blade, which appears to extend out of the hilt just as the laser sword does in the movies, and with the same iconic sound effect from the films, too. See for yourself in the video shared by Disney Parks.
“Watching that lightsaber activate right before your eyes will be just one of the countless ways that, from the moment you arrive to the moment you depart, you’ll be plunged into a Star Wars story where your decisions and actions — or even the casual conversations you may have — determine how your personal journey unfolds,” the Disney Parks Blog said.
The new lightsaber, created by Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development, was previously revealed to a group of reporters (including yours truly) by Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro during a virtual media event where he activated the lightsaber in what felt like the blink of an eye. “It’s real,” he said. Reporters were asked not to record the presentation and were left scrambling, relying on only their own recollections to prove the whole thing wasn’t just a Jedi mind trick.
Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, continued the tease on Twitter, saying, “A lot of questions today about whether the lightsaber that Josh D’Amaro revealed today was real or CGI, and, whether I’d share photos or video. Yes it was/is really real, and….. not yet.”
A lot of questions today about whether the lightsaber that Josh D'Amaro revealed today was real or CGI, and, whether I'd share photos or video.
— Scott Trowbridge (@strowbridge) April 9, 2021
How Does The Lightsaber Work?
While the video shared on May 4 gave a broader audience visual proof of the lightsaber’s existence, don’t expect Disney to reveal their secrets.
“This new lightsaber creates dramatic in-person moments previously only seen in films or shows,” Disney said. But they haven’t told us how.
Outlets like CNET and The Verge and developer Ben Ridout dug deep on patents, speculating at length on how Disney’s new lightsaber might work. According to Ridout, who shared an animation on Twitter showing how the technology could work, the effect is likely created using materials a bit like two tape measures and LED lights.
Yes they did.
It won't melt through metal blast doors, or cut off your hand, but it does feature an illuminated blade that will extend and retract at the push of a button.
This animation shows the concept behind the tech. pic.twitter.com/e7fwP06CxF
— Ben Ridout (@benridout) April 12, 2021
Can I Buy A Real Lightsaber?
So far, it seems most likely that the new lightsaber will be used as a prop for show rather than be made widely available for purchase. Guests onboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will get their chance to wield a lightsaber and face off with a training remote, and they’ll no doubt have the opportunity to buy their own lightsabers, but those could be the ones already sold by Disney.
Since the opening of the Star Wars-themed land Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in May of 2019 at Disneyland Resort and in August at Walt Disney World Resort, fans have been able to buy impressive replica lightsabers, choosing either high-quality reproductions of the hilts of iconic characters or building their own as part of an immersive experience at Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers. But, while the hilts look just like the real thing, the blades don’t extend and retract. That’s what makes this newly revealed lightsaber so exciting to Star Wars fans, who are no doubt consumed with a new hope they might someday be able to get their hands on one of their own.