Disney Parks Boss Shows Off “Real” Lightsaber Onstage At SXSW

Disney Parks and Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro gave a presentation at SXSW this weekend that promised a focus on “The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling,” and boy did he deliver.

After showing off a very dynamic character robot and offering a look at Smart Hulk in his time travel suit, D’Amaro offered up what he termed “the true wow moment.”

D’Amaro brandished a legit-looking lightsaber hilt. He pushed a button and, “beeshheww,” a very real-looking blue lightsaber blade seemed to spring out of the hilt in his hand.

“I have the coolest job in the world,” announced D’Amaro. “I’m holding a real lightsaber.”

Video posted online captured the moment and the audience’s collective gasp followed by applause.

D’Amaro explained he was holding one of the lightsabers used onboard Disney’s ultra-expensive Galactic Starcruiser experience, but video of those lightsabers shows they have a tube sticking out of the hilt, which is not retractible. D’Amaro’s seems to grow right out of the hilt itself.

The Parks and Experiences Chairman then brought Leslie Evans onstage. She runs R&D for Disney Imagineering. “This was a hard project. This was not easy,” said Evans. She said part of the aim of the project was to “build film moments in the real world.”

D’Amaro said, “I love firing this thing up,” before hitting the button again.

Deadline reached out to Disney Imagineering for details on the lightsaber that appeared onstage, but did not hear back.

One fan posted a link to a Google patents page that appears to have schematic diagrams of the hilt and a written description of how the device achieves its magic. If you want to preserve your sense of wonder, stop reading here.

The explanation reads as follows:

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