The creative teams at Walt Disney Animation Studios and ILMxLab have joined forces to bring a truly one of a kind, fully immersive animated experience to life for Wreck-It Ralph fans this holiday season. Starting November 21st, all North American VOID experience centers will launch Ralph Breaks VR, the newest story from the ILMxLab team.
In teams of 4, guests will transform into animated characters called “Netizens” with the help of Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz. Together, Ralph and Vanellope will break the teams into the internet to play the newest, coolest video game ever. Just when the fun begins, a surprising turn of events launches guests into a topsy-turvy battle for survival featuring two brand new locations, Dunderdome, and Pancake Milkshake Diner, as well as bring them head to head with a new antagonist, B.E.V (Built to Eradicate Viruses). Voiced by Ralph Breaks VR and Ralph Breaks the Internet writer, Pamela Ribon, guests will be put to the test and ultimately get their chance to be a unique part of the Wreck-It Ralph story.
Bringing these two teams together was an incredible experience, melding the best of both worlds in a way never before possible. “They came to our story room a little over a year ago to talk about where this world could be and what we could do. We were writing the movie while we were still writing this and one of the things we were being really careful to do was to make this its own experience,” said Ribon.
Good news for those that haven’t had a chance to experience the films, as it opens the door to a completely distinct story that anyone can play along with, regardless of skill or background. “You don’t have to see either of the films. You don’t even know Ralph or Vanellope before you step in and get immersed in their world,” she added. It also generates a brand new way to enjoy the art of storytelling, giving fans the most personal connection possible. The distance is taken away, bringing you out of the theater and right into the action. “They’re alive in this place and its magical”.
The entire process took a lot of input from so many dedicated creators, and the end product is astonishing. From start to finish, you are a real, living and breathing part of the world around you. From sights to sounds, even smell, you forget the real world and find yourself completely in awe. For the VOID team, it was important to make sure that experience was as powerful and realistic as possible, creating every sensation with the human sensory experience in mind.
Jade Grimmius, director and overseer at the VOID, voiced the team’s need to think beyond technology to make Ralph Breaks VR the best possible experience. “It’s not just technology. You want to match what you are feeling in the real world with what your senses are telling you is happening. For instance, when you are moving on a skiff or a train, or whatever we are telling you that you are moving on, you want to feel that movement. We have transducers that help you feel the vibration.”
Still, VR does cause some hesitation, as the senses may risk disorientation and not everyone has the stomach for sudden movement or changes in surroundings. The VOID keeps that in mind, developing a smooth, comfortable journey for all guests, which takes priority, even in a world of cutting-edge graphics and state of the art technology. “I get sick so easily..and I think that’s one of the things that distinguishes the VOID. We match so well what you are seeing in the inputs that are coming into your mind with what you’re actually feeling”
It all comes together in a match made in heaven, pushing the boundaries of what virtual reality can do while keeping guests grounded. The entire experience is also ILMxLab’s first collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios. For the first time ever, animation and VR are one, opening the door to new ideas and concepts. “We were adding a third group to the mix in feature animation. It was a really great opportunity to be able to apply the strengths that we have been developing on the ILMxLab side and benefit from all of the talent on the feature animation side,” said Grimmius.
Craig Watson, Chairman, and CEO of the VOID shared in the excitement, discussing how ILMxLab got an opportunity to play with the actual models and assets constructed for the film. “The bunnies and kitties are the exact same models as the film. A lot of the buildings are there, the billboards that you see, we took all of that from the film and just brainstorming with these guys was like nerd fantasy fun.”
Fun is really the name of the game with the entire experience. Though, with the introduction of Ralph Breaks VR, ILMxLab did assure that previous experiences would still be available, including Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Still, it’s a beautiful new chapter for all involved, fan and creator alike. This is the second project in the companies contract with Disney, with new experiences still in the pipeline. “It’s really powerful. It may be the first of many,” said Watson.
Learn how the impossible becomes the possible today! Pre-orders are now open for Ralph Breaks VR. You can find your local VOID experience center and review appointment times by visiting the VOID’s official site. Locations include Downtown Disney and Disney Springs.
Post Written by Maverick Bohn on special assignment.