Disney Brought Its ‘Real’ Lightsaber To SXSW, But Reactions Have Been Mixed

Any kid who has ever been a Star Wars fan has dreamed of owning an actual lightsaber. The various iterations of the plastic toys that we’ve received since 1977 have been cool, but none have ever quite captured the magic that we’ve imagined from the movies. But Walt Disney Imagineering has recently created the closest thing to a real lightsaber that we’ve ever seen, and while many are impressed, reactions have been surprisingly mixed.

The “real” lightsaber was first debuted during a virtual media presentation by Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products head Josh D’Amaro and has since been seen by thousands of guests as part of the finale of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience. But during a presentation at SXSW, which also saw an incredible new somersaulting animatronic, last week D’Amaro brought out the item on stage, giving a lot of people their first and best look at the new lightsaber design. Disney Food Blog got the video...

It’s an incredibly impressive display because the lightsaber does almost everything the real thing can do in the movies. It extends, using the same sound effects we would expect. Most importantly, the thing the toys have never quite gotten right, it glows like the real thing. One thing this video shows that we’ve rarely seen is that it also retracts like the real thing, something some had suggested this item might not be able to do. It looks incredible.

The only thing it can’t do, as far as we can tell, is take a hit. When the lightsaber is used during the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, it’s been clear that the actress playing Rey needs to swap it for a different model during her battle with Kylo Ren. Still, many fans would clearly love to own this lightsaber right now to add to their collection. You can build an incredibly cool lightsaber at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, but it can't do this.

You’d honestly expect this to be the main reaction from people seeing the closest thing to a real lightsaber, but apparently not everybody is as thrilled. For some, while this device is clearly impressive, it’s not impressive enough. Apparently, since they needed to make the hilt bigger to handle the electronics and the blade isn’t quite long enough, it’s not good enough so we should all just go home.

There are, of course, no plans to release this as a retail product. It’s probably ridiculously expensive to produce and also it’s clearly fragile, so it’s not the sort of thing that is going to be on sale at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge anytime soon. That doesn’t matter for other people though, because apparently, they’re just tired of Star Wars, so there’s nothing that can be done to impress them anymore.

I guess you can’t please everybody. In the end, the technology is impressive in its own right, even if it’s not something that matters to you personally, and odds are that this is just the first step, and anybody who is disappointed that this is not a perfect replica will likely only need to wait until the next generation. Unless you’re waiting for a lightsaber that can actually cut through anything. That is probably a lot further off. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.