As part of the Star Wars Day festivities on Tuesday, Disney announced that it has built a working lightsaber that copies the look and sound of the iconic laser swords from the Star Wars films. In a video announcing the 2022 launch of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, one of Disney World’s Rey actresses is seen wielding the new working lightsaber.
“Yes, that’s a new type of lightsaber Rey is holding in her hand, created by Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development,” Disney said in a press release. “Guests who experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be the first to see it in action – along with so much more – starting in 2022 when this amazing new two-night adventure debuts. 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.”
While it’s not clear whether these lightsabers will be available for public purchase or are simply created as props for the actors, the official website of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser indicates that guests will have the opportunity to experience the traditional art of wielding a lightsaber and put their skills to the test during the two-day immersive experience.
The realistic lightsaber was first teased by Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro to a small group of reporters in a streamed video presentation last month. At the end of the said video, D’Amaro picked up a hilt-like box from which a light blade emerged in an instant. “It’s real,” he said. Reporters were asked not to record the presentation, so no video or photo evidence of it was shared online at that time.
As to how Disney managed to develop this new technology, a patent filed by the entertainment giant for a “sword device with retractable, internally illuminated blade” back in 2017 offers some details.
“The device includes two long plastic semi-cylinders, and these two blade body members are rolled perpendicular to their length, which creates compact cylinders of material of small volume that can be provided on a pair of spools in a hilt,” read a portion of the patent application. “To extend the blade, a motor provided in the hilt unrolls the blade body members from the spools. Each blade body member passes through a blade forming guideway that nests the semi-cylindrical blade body members together as they leave the hilt. To retract the blade, the process is reversed.”
The lighting of the blade, meanwhile, is achieved with a “flexible strip of light sources,” which is “attached to a blade end cap and positioned in the center of the two blade body members such that it is pulled up along with the blade body members during their extension.” The image below is one of the illustrations of the retractable light sword from the patent.