Inside Disney’s new Carbon-Freeze Me experience, immersing guests in a Star Wars world to create a custom collectible

in Disney, Entertainment, Events, Merchandise, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

After being caught spying on Darth Vader’s latest Death Star plans, I was sentenced to eternal imprisonment frozen in carbonite. Maybe it didn’t go quite like that, but I did indeed step into a carbon freezing chamber at Walt Disney World, voluntarily, as part of the newest line of custom collectibles offered during Star Wars Weekends 2012, which began yesterday.

Disney calls the experience “Carbon Freeze Me,” enabling theme park guests to have their faces scanned and 3D-printed onto a small collectible figurine featuring their likeness sculpted onto Han Solo’s body, frozen in carbonite, a la “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.”

With the aid of my pal Kenny the Pirate, I recorded my trip into the Carbon Freeze Me experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, seen in the video below, including the variety of amusing faces I made while trying to act like I’d just been doomed by the Dark Lord of the Sith.

Video: Carbon Freeze Me experience at Star Wars Weekends 2012

UPDATE (7/5/12): My Carbon Freeze Me figure has arrived and it looks fantastic:

I also have posted photos and a full report here.

For the duration of Star Wars Weekends, which takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 10, Carbon Freeze Me is setup inside the ABC Sound Studio, formerly home to Drew Carey’s “Sounds Dangerous” attraction. But for this new experience, Disney has decked out the stage to resemble the famous carbon freezing chamber from the second (or fifth?) “Star Wars” film.

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

Complete with dramatic shades of orange, blue, and red, winding ducts overhead, and plenty of fog, the ominous setup certainly sets the mood for being turned into Jabba’s next wall decoration. And Disney’s Cast Members were playing the part too, frequently referring to me as a “rebel spy” and asking what I “did” to receive my sentence.

In the end, the product that’s being created from Carbon Freeze Me is an 8-inch tall, highly-detailed Star Wars figurine, featuring Han Solo’s famous pose but with the 3D face of whoever takes part in the experience.

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

A closer look at a few carbonite figurines. Will be mine... Eventually. #fb

The actual “carbon freezing chamber” is a comfortable seat situated between a blue screen, several bright lights, and a small LCD monitor. After brief instruction and requiring me to pull my long hair back away from my face, a robotic voice counts down from 3 before my first 3D photo is snapped. Instead of smiling for the camera and saying “Cheeeeeeese,” the proper expression here is to wince in pain as the voice exclaims, “Freeeeeeeeeze.” Clever.

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

Before me, I watched one adult and several children step into the “chamber” and get their likenesses captured. Guests of all ages seemed to be enjoying it, particularly due to Disney’s attention to detail in making it more than a simple photo opportunity. The ambiance, props, sound effects, and Cast Member dedication to the story all combined to create a proper Star Wars experience.

I was given three chances at making various faces before stepping around to a nearby computer monitor to see the results. I chose my third face, as it looked like I was in the most pain and my clenched teeth made the photo different enough from how Harrison Ford posed, mouth open, as Han Solo. I had to make it my own.

After choosing that photo, the Cast Member clicked a few buttons and my 2D image was suddenly turned into a 3D computer model, fully colored and textured, able to be manipulated on-screen. It was rather creepy.

Another mouse click replaced all the color in my face with shades of grey, showing me roughly how I’d appear when frozen in a small carbonite figurine.

The 3D-scanned image will act as a base for the final figurine, the design for which will be touched up before being created.

The final step, naturally, was to pay for the experience and my figurine, which was not available in the park but rather would be shipped to my house in 3-4 weeks. The price tag is $99, though the total actually comes out to around $122 once sales tax and shipping are factored in. The extra costs offer a bit of sticker shock for those expecting $100 a head – literally. But ultimately the price not only pays for the figurine itself, nicely packaged inside an official Star Wars box, but also the fun theme park experience, which is only open to those who buy into it and their friends and family who join them to watch.

I didn’t leave totally empty handed, given a “tracking wristband” so the Empire could keep tabs on me, since they were unable to truly imprison me in carbonite.

My Empire tracking device after escaping from the carbon freezing chamber. #fb

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

At the touch of a button, the wristband’s face cycles between red, blue, and green colors.

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

Carbon Freeze Me at Star Wars Weekends

So is it all really worth $122? I can’t say that until my figurine arrives in a few weeks. So check back then for my final thoughts on this experience. If it’s successful, and it seems to be, I have a feeling Disney will find ways to extend it past the end of Star Wars Weekends, perhaps rolling it out when Star Wars Celebration VI arrives to the Orange County Convention Center in August.

Reservations are required for Carbon Freeze Me, though walk-ups were being accepted late in the day yesterday. The experience can be reserved by calling Disney at 407-WDW-TECH (407-939-8324).

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