Day: April 18, 2017

‘Star Wars’ Land Updates: Toy guns and realistic play contribute greatly to a healthy, and sane life

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I know there are a lot of big things going on in the world, but from my perspective, some of the most important are happening in Orlando, Florida with the Star Wars Celebration.  The reason is that one of my favorite topic is human cultures, their influences, and how they vary from region to region and I see Star Wars as one of the greatest positive contributors to the future of our human race, psychologically, philosophically, religiously, and scientifically.  It’s a fun topic but under it all I see the potential for tremendous opportunities in the future.  And as we celebrated Easter at my house and I went out to Target and bought up a bunch of Star Wars Nerf guns for the kids to play with on a really nice Sunday in Ohio I watched the footage of the Imagineers at Disney World conducting their Galaxy in the Making update on their two Star Wars themed worlds to be opened in Orlando and Anaheim during 2019.   Check out what they have in store.

I love guns—everything from my favorite .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum to the Star Wars Nerf guns.  My mom bought me for the fun of it a little Cassian Andor Nerf pistol which I wrote about during the Christmas of 2016 because I was deeply impressed with it.  When I was a kid, I loved the Star Wars guns, but they didn’t shoot anything.  That didn’t stop my brother and I from playing war all the time.  There were several years of my youth that playing war with the kids who lived near me was my favorite thing to do and if I had the guns that kids today can buy at Target and Wal-Mart I would literally have been in Heaven.  Star Wars for me was always about gunfights and being able to play some of those gunfights in real life which was just great.  Knowing all the kids were coming over for Easter I stopped by Target to buy their specific Cassian Andor sniper rifle which is just something special.  It has a clip that holds 12 shots which can be fired as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The trigger pull activates a cool little internal light that charges up your glow in the dark Nerf darts and they come out of the gun’s barrel looking like tracer fire.  The gun fires off compressed air generated by a fan which takes away some of the mechanical aspects that might complicate a real AR-15.  The gun operates much better than I would have guessed.  We had a lot of fun with that gun after our Easter Egg hunt.  I now have a nice collection of these Nerf guns and am a real fan.

But the guns and other toys available to kids these days are just part of the Star Wars experience.  The fun is in being able to play in real life what you mythologically experience through the movies.  And as I’ve said, these days the options are much better than what I had when I was a kid.  For instance, my favorite toy when I was a child was my Han Solo “Empire Strikes Back” version blaster which made a whine sound when you pulled the trigger.  The gun itself wasn’t very impressive because it just made a noise—and not a very good noise at that.  But we’re talking 1980 when I had that gun, yet what it symbolized to me was very special.  However, I just bought the Han Solo Nerf Blaster from the Force Awakens and it is very impressive.  These new Nerf guns not only make great blaster noises that sound like what they do in the movies, but they really shoot.  To get both functions to happen seamlessly is part of the magic of these new toys.  What they are talking about doing down in Orlando at Disney World is something that is certainly next step exciting.  If blasters and games from Star Wars are enhancing the kind of imaginative activities that take place at home—those big theme parks have to go well beyond what the movies can offer, and that’s what they are going to do with Star Wars at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland at Anaheim.

When I first started talking about these new Star Wars Lands at the Disney Parks I was very excited about this because as I said then, many new scientists and philosophers will have their imaginations explode in those places.  Yet, what they are doing with Star Wars Land is far beyond what even I imagined. They are going for a full experience here and that’s a game changer for all amusement parks.  The Disney and Lucasfilm employees in charge of this project are really bringing us the future in every category and the results will be jaw dropping.  We’re talking about full scale spaceships like the Millennium Falcon sitting around that people can see and touch. Imperial Walkers in full scale excitement—a new lightsaber technology that will be patented and developed for Disney World—this is very exciting.  Imagination is now merging with real science to tell stories which evoke leaps in further technological develop which we will eventually find in our daily lives.  Ideas are born in such places and that’s what makes them important for discussion.  The people attending the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando are movie geeks.  But the product of their enthusiasm eventually advances our culture because they spend a lot of money on Star Wars products and Disney reinvests that money in new ways to keep them coming back.  But in the process, they all unlock the human potential available to our species, and that is a beautiful thing.

I know a lot of people.  Some of them are big shots in the world—and some of them run comic book stores and spend all their time escaping in fantasy environments.  I’m not some dude living on a mountaintop in the Rocky Mountains who is out of touch with reality—quite the opposite, and honestly I am probably one of the sanest people alive in the world.  My mental health is excellent.  I can’t imagine anybody being healthier than me and I became that way playing with guns all of my life.  And my first experience with guns came from Star Wars.  Later it came from the great westerns of our movie culture—which eventually migrated into what Star Wars became.  Just like our first five years of life where all we do is play, adults do best when they continue playing well into their mature years—because that’s how we learn as people.  And what Disney is doing at their theme parks with Star Wars is a chance to make play a part of our lives in ways never done before.   And there is nothing wrong with that.

Sure Star Wars is about war, and guns, and people dying.  But it’s about ideas and optimism too and moving beyond the things that scare us.  Guns are the first step in that journey because once you learn to master them, you learn not to be afraid and new ideas can then come to your life.  So the toy guns, the light sabers and confronting villains is a part of our life within Star Wars and making it more real only makes the myth making that much more powerful.  The more playing we do in this realm of overcoming our fears—the better we all are and that is precisely what Disney is creating at its theme parks and I think it’s just riveting.  I am very much looking forward to the new Star Wars Land opening up.  But in the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy the Nerf guns and play Star Wars with my grandchildren as much as possible!

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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