As we’ve written about before, The VOID is truly an amazing experience that blends the real world with the virtual world so well that you come out of it different. In Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, The VOID and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB worked together to create a new story that has you battling it out against Darth Vader. But the Disney synergy after its heavy investment in the company has led to a new experience – this time involving the Walt Disney Animation Studios.
“It was about a year ago that we started conversations with Disney Animation to see what we could do with them,” said Curtis Hickman, chief creative officer and co-founder of The VOID said to us at the company’s test facility in Glendale, CA. “They had a new movie coming out that we thought would be fun to play with, and that’s that story.”
The movie he was referring to was “Ralph Breaks The Internet,” the sequel to Disney Animation’s movie that told of two digital characters in a video game world. In the new movie, that digital world grows exponentially as Ralph and Vanellope enter the internet. And just like in the movie and in real life, the internet is full of places and characters that are fun or could be threatening.
“It was the perfect place to create a new experience with a new story and just to have fun!,” said Pamela Ribbon, who was a co-writer on “Ralph Breaks The Internet” and served as writer for Ralph Breaks VR. “There were unique challenges though, that we needed to get over before the fun.”
Some of those challenges include what story they could put in under 10 minutes that would be compelling enough to play in, as well as what type of play that people could play in. As is signature with all VOID experiences, there’s a narrative that drives you through emotionally and some type of gameplay that allows you to engage and be pulled into the illusion even more.
For Ralph Breaks VR, The VOID was shown early footage of the sequel film and saw an interesting angle in the games that were in the internet. Ribbon continued, “We featured a few games that we created for the movie called ‘Pancake and Milkshake’ that we knew would be something that we wanted to make real. We also made a game called the ‘Dunderdome’ that gets a second play now as part of the experience.”
Both games are tied together through an easy-to-understand drama that pulls directly from the second movie. In The VOID’s signature team of four for each experience, you as a human are disguised as a “Netizen,” which is an avatar of a real human on the internet, to step into the internet to have some fun playing the net’s newest and most popular games (and no, it isn’t Fix-It Felix Jr.). However, that disguise aka viruses can only fool so many, including a new character and villain they created for the experience named “B.E.V.” or Built to Eradicate Viruses” (voiced by Ribbon) that is on the lookout to “delete” us.
As for what Ralph Breaks VR is like, we can’t say much because it’s always difficult to explain a VR experience without giving everything away. The gameplay is simple and way you physically maneuver the experience with others is pretty self explanatory. It once again reminds people that you don’t need any previous experience in VR to enjoy what The VOID has to offer. “There is no instruction manual to how to play,” said producer on the project Shereif Fattouh from ILMxLab. “We want you to not notice everything in hopes that you can try again and find new things to see and do just like in a real video game.”
Overall, it’s that well combined story and gameplay that once again have made this VOID experience very enjoyable. It’s their partnership with Walt Disney Animation Studios that makes it even better. “We have the privilege of working with the best characters and worlds on the planet,” said Vicki Dobbs Beck, the Executive in Charge at ILMxLAB who once again helped with the technical side of the project. “Working with something as fun as ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ only made our jobs easier and more fun to create.”
Ralph Breaks VR can be experienced at a variety of The VOID’s Experience Centers, including the ones at Downtown Disney District in Anaheim and Disney Springs in Orlando, beginning on November 21, 2018 – which also happens to be the release date of the movie “Ralph Breaks The Internet.”
Tickets for the total 30-minute experience range from $29.95 to $36.95 per person and must be reserved in advance for a specific time slot online on their official website.
Our special thanks to The Void and the Walt Disney Animation Studios for the preview of the experience that contributed to this story!