Disney’s new Star Wars-themed parks will include a unique augmented reality experience powered by an in-park mobile app. New details on the app integration were announced today at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention in Chicago. The app will reportedly transform Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida into interactive, immersive digital experiences.
The app which is titled Play Disney Parks has been available for quite some time now for both iOS and Android devices. It was originally pitched as something for guests to do while waiting in line for rides or character meet and greets, with hooks like player progression and collectibles – something similar to the already successful in-line game app Disney offers for free.
So how is this new app any different? After arriving in the land which is set up to be a distant outpost planet called Batuu, the Play Disney Parks app will transform into Star Wars: Data Pad. The app contains four different tools to use while navigating the park. Guests can use the “hacking” tool to interact with door panels, and also hack the memories of droids (which might be unethical in the greater sense of the Star Wars universe? maybe?); the “scanning” tool to examine the contents of cargo boxes; the “translation” tool to understand the signs written in the Aurebesh language; and the “tuning” tool to tap into communication devices and antennae in order to pick up secret messages.
Beyond that, the new app offers a lot more, too. The app prompts immersive, almost role-playing-like experiences. A park wide game will encourage guests to pick support for either the Resistance or the First Order — or be an independent “scoundrel” — as they complete more activities and “jobs” around the park. For instance, when boarding the Millenium Falcon ride with the app, guests will have a choice to take on a smuggler’s mission.
Team members from Walt Disney Imagineering and LucasFilm, including Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director, were on hand to add detail to the highly secretive land. Asa Kalama, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, took the lead in describing the app’s new functionality in detail for the first time.
Previously described by Entertainment Weekly, the app will allow guests to “hack,” “scan,” “translate,” and “tune” at certain locations throughout Galaxy’s Edge. Guests will be able to connect with droids and other physical features all around the park, collecting bits of backstory as they go.
In fact, beyond the news of a new Disney app, it’s also important to note that this isn’t the first time that Disney has attempted to embed a high-tech interactive experience into its theme parks.Disney parks have dabbled in interactive experiences before, though descriptions of Star Wars: Data Pad suggest a new level of immersion. Other gamified experiences in the Disney parks include the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which has guests traverse across the Magic Kingdom to collect magic crystals, and Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure (formerly Kim Possible-themed) which sets guests across the global locations in Epcot to help Perry the Platypus defeat Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
The Play Disney Parks mobile app already boasts in-line games and trivia, ride achievements, and curated Apple Music playlists. This update — much like the park expansions — will be one of the biggest additions to the mobile-device-enabled Disney experience and has changed the way amusement parks around the world use technology to entertain their guests.