The Walt Disney Imagineering team is working on a virtual reality Millennium Falcon experience for Disneyland and Walt Disney World that will let you pilot the famous space freighter, said Bei Yang, creative technologies leader at Walt Disney Imagineering, during an Epic Games session today at the 2016 Game Developers Conference.
"One of the things you want to be able to do in a Star Wars-themed land is to go inside the cockpit and actually pilot one of our favorite freighters," said Yang. "This is precisely the thing we are exploring now. Now I'm going to show you a video that has a little bit of what we're going to do."
The very brief glimpse of the experience seemed to show a view from the cockpit of the Falcon as it was taking fire from stormtroopers on the ground.
While Yang called it an exploration, the video ends with the words "coming soon to" Disneyland and Disney World.
Yang said that the Imagineering team is working with ILMxLab using the Unreal Engine. The news came during the tail end of a GDC talk entitled "A Real-Time Rendered Future," which was hosted by Epic Games.
ILMxLab is also responsible for the Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine VR experience that's being shown at GDC.
"Storytelling is best told through immersion," Yang said. "We can't build a Radiator Springs all of the time, so sometimes we have to turn to digital imagery. Now technology has gotten much better. In the last few years, we can have better imagery, we can have better robots, and we see these as tools to help us tell better stories.
"And of course with better imagery we are now starting to see VR experiences."
Yang said all of these things are seen as new tools in Disney Imagineering's tool chest.
"Having all of these tools in the tool chest has come at a very important time," he said. "Because we are right now working on a Star Wars-themed land."
News of Star Wars-themed attractions coming to Disney World first hit at the D23 Expo last summer, when Disney's Bob Iger said they would be the largest single-themed land expansion ever for Disney World.
A month later, Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs talked in a bit more detail about the possible rides and experiences in the upcoming park addition.
"Yes, people will be able to fly the Millennium Falcon," Staggs said during a discussion at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in September. "But there's also going to be a number of other attractions. And just as importantly, this will be, I think, perhaps the most immersive land we've ever built because we want people to feel like they've stepped into the world of Star Wars. And so that's really sparked our imaginations and it's got people fired up. Yes, there'll be a cantina. That's the other question we get all the time."
Make sure to check out our hands-on video of Star Wars: Trials of Tatooine, ILMxLabs' other VR Star Wars experience.