In a galaxy far away (well Stratford) my mind has been blown by Secrets of The Empire
The VOID and ILMxLAB have bought a hyper-reality Star Wars experience to London.
I have literally just experienced Secrets of the Empire at Stratford Westfield and am still processing what just happened. I’m not very technically minded and know nothing about how virtual reality works, so in my eyes, it is just pure magic. The last experience I had which was anything like this was my Sega Master system with 3D glasses.
Quite a few of my friends have already experienced Secrets of The Empire and are die-hard Star Wars fans and they all only had praise for their experience. I am a Star Wars fan but in a more nostalgic ‘I love Princess Leia and Hans Solo’ way.
Following a successful run at Westfield London, Secrets of The Empire has now transferred to Westfield Stratford. With other experiences happening in Disney Theme Parks in California and Florida.
The Secrets of the Empire is located in the Westfield food court and is hard to miss. We sat there excitedly waiting for our time slot to come around, like a kid on Christmas morning, and were guessing what we were about to experience. We weren’t even close.
You will need to book online to guarantee entry and you go in groups of 4. So ideally book a group of 4 family or friends in the same time slot. If you are in groups smaller than 4 you may share your experience with other people. The experience is only at Westfield for 12 weeks which is why pre-booking is recommended but some tickets may be available at the door if you are feeling spontaneous.
You can’t take any cameras or phones in with you, you need to leave all items in the cloakroom, but don’t worry there is a photo opportunity at the end.
Once you’ve left your items in the cloakroom you then need to sign a disclaimer. Guests under 18 need to have a parent or guardian to sign their disclaimer for them before entering The VOID.
Next, you will be shown a video of your mission. We were a bit overexcited and didn’t listen properly but we were marched back into the room to watch again when we admitted this, as it is what the whole experience is about. So a word of advice, LISTEN!
You will travel to a planet named Mustafar. Your mission is to recover intelligence vital to the rebellions survival in the guise of a STORMTROOPER. Yes! you see yourself and your friends as actual Stormtroopers. Surely this is worth the price of admission alone.
When it’s time to get kitted up, an enthusiastic member of staff will help you get ready. You need to put on a backpack and a helmet. Wear something comfortable that you can easily move in. Ladies, don’t even think about wearing heels.
Your kit is then switched on and adjusted by staff, so speak up if things are blurry, and your VR experience begins. You are given a few moments to get used to yourself and your friend’s new look and then it’s on with your mission.
It feels like you have been dropped in the middle of the action, the characters in front of you are astonishingly lifelike and the rush of adrenaline that you experience is most definitely real.
Me and my friend were so shocked at how real it felt we held hands for the first few minutes. We then needed our hands to do tasks and we soon forgot out apprehension. We really had no idea the experience would be so amazing and real. You can feel the heat, the noise, the smell. Everything. It is truly incredible.
The next 14 minutes were then a mix of laughter, action, high 5’s, swearing and adrenaline rushes. It actually felt like a really long time and not at all rushed
Once your experience is over, you are whisked off to have your picture taken in your full outfit, which you can then purchase in the gift shop.
We then changed, in silence, with a massive grin on our faces. Our next stop was the pub for a strong drink and debrief.
Secrets of the Empire is suitable for over 10-year-olds and people over 4 foot.
The experience is suitable for wheelchair users, email email@example.com to book.
I had heard good things from friends but had no idea it would be so incredible and feel so real. The whole experience lasts around 30 minutes, with your VR experience around 14 minutes. The cost is £35 for peak tickets and £30 off-peak tickets. I believe the cost of the ticket is worth every penny. It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before and I want to go again with friends, my mum, my brother, my postman…...
Opening hours for The VOID are
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 – 22:00
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 – 24:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00