It’s the “elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” and fans have been dreaming of getting their hands on a “real” retractable lightsaber since that first Star Wars movie hit theaters in 1977.
Sure, there have been plenty of toy lightsabers created over the years. And that $200 lightsaber you built at Savi’s Workshop at Galaxy’s Edge is pretty cool, but there’s one aspect that no one has been able to recreate: a retractable blade of light that extends from the hilt.
How Disney’s Imagineers Created a “Real” Lightsaber
Now, Disney claims to have created a “real” lightsaber. At least, they posted a video of what appears to be a working lightsaber just like in the movies.
In the 13-second clip, a Disney cast member dressed as Rey demonstrates a never-before-seen lightsaber with a solid blade of light that extends from the hilt. It’s a full-size, evenly lit blade that appears and disappears like magic.
It’s not a camera trick or a visual effect, either. This is apparently the real deal — or at least, as real as we can get without traveling to a galaxy far, far away.
So, how does it work?
Well, don’t expect to battle it out with a Sith Lord. After all, George Lucas “wanted to ignore science and have fun” when he created the Star Wars movies. Lightsabers look amazing on screen, but physics don’t work the same way in space fantasy. Besides, we don’t have any kyber crystals handy.
As it turns out, Disney Enterprises filed a patent in 2018 for a “sword device with retractable, internally illuminated blade.” The item it describes features spools and a motor that rolls and unrolls them at the push of a button, “acting much like a metal carpenter’s tape measure.”
Yep, you read that correctly — Disney’s “real” lightsaber was inspired by extendable steel tape measures. Of course, there’s much more to it than just a fancy motorized tape measure. VR developer Ben Ridout did a pretty good job of explaining the tech with a set of simple animations (a much better job than I would ever do), so I’ll just defer to the experts here.
Will Fans Be Able to Buy the New Lightsaber?
The real question on everyone’s mind, though, is whether or not this lightsaber will be for sale. Am I about to go broke for the latest and greatest Star Wars toy?
It looks like Disney’s Imagineers didn’t create this one for us. While the patent offers the possibility of this “real” lightsaber becoming a (very expensive) collectible for fans later down the road, this particular lightsaber is being developed for Galaxy’s Edge cast members.
“At this time, this new lightsaber enables live-action Disney performers to create a moment never seen outside of films or shows. We have no plans to make them available outside of that use,” a Disney spokesperson told Mashable.
It looks like the new lightsaber is just a piece of Disney Parks’ new Star Wars hotel opening at Disney World in 2022. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a three-day, two-night immersive experience that will transport you to another galaxy.
During your stay, you’ll find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with Disney cast members playing the part of the Resistance, as the “ship” is boarded by Kylo Ren and the First Order. It’s like starring in your own movie for 60 hours, and it’ll only cost you a whopping $1,400 per person, apparently.
Disney’s new “real” lightsaber will essentially be one more key piece that makes guests feel like they’re actually in a galaxy far, far away having the adventure of a lifetime.