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Disney won't push VR at its theme parks, CEO Robert Iger says

Disney won't push VR at its theme parks, CEO Robert Iger says
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will open May 31, at Disneyland and Aug. 29 at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

In the Star Wars land, rock spires tower in the landscape and a visit to the bar means you might run into characters from the films.

“We're not trying to fake immersion,” Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger said at a New York conference Tuesday. “We're trying to make it as real as possible with as much scale as possible.”

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But don't expect Disney parks to push virtual reality in the parks anytime soon.

Virtual reality doesn't impress as much as re-creating a place and making people feel as though they are actually “in something,” Iger said.

“There's a wow factor there that is much greater than what you could ever achieve with VR,” Iger said, mentioning other expansions such as Cars Land at California Adventure Park and Pandora — The World of Avatar at its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla.

Besides, it's hard to order a drink at the Star Wars bar wearing virtual reality goggles, Iger joked.

Disneyland will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on May 31. Another will open in Florida in August.

Iger spoke candidly about the theme parks, the company's new streaming service and other topics during a question-and-answer session at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit.

Some theme parks added virtual reality in recent years, using it as an opportunity to rebrand a roller coaster and offer something new, for instance.

But at SeaWorld Orlando and Fun Spot theme parks in Florida and Georgia, the parks have pulled back, acknowledging the VR goggles took time to clean and extended wait times. Some guests simply weren't fans, preferring a more traditional experience on a coaster.

Iger said some technology makes sense at Disney.

One of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World is Flight of Passage, which relies on 3-D googles to make riders feel as though they're soaring through the air.

Iger praised the augmented reality attraction at Animal Kingdom, saying, “There's more opportunities for that.”

Russon writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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