Greg Walsh


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Star Wars Rebels, Disney World, and Extensions in UX

Wednesday October 29, 2014

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes

My kids and I have been watching a lot of Star Wars Rebels, a new show airing on DisneyXD. The stories are about the crew of a ship called the Ghost who appear to be the start of the Rebel Alliance (in Star Wars terms, the good guys). I just watched the episode Droids in Distress that had guest appearances by C3-P0 and R2-D2, the two droids that appear in every Star Wars movie. Although they are arguably the most popular robots from the series, another droid appearance, RX-24, in the episode made me yell out loud "No way!".

RX-24 is the full name of the character Rex from the Disney attraction Star Tours which itself is a ride based on the Star Wars universe. RX-24, or Rex, was the original pilot of the shuttle craft that visitors rode in during their mis-adventure to Endor. The ride was excellent (I hear the new one is good too) because it was the first extension of the Star Wars universe that fully surrounded you by carrying the Star Wars UX throughout the experience.

This isn't surprising as Walt Disney is considered the creator of User Experience. What is interesting is how the User Experience extension, in this case Rex, has made his way back into the main experience. In the episode, Rex was the pilot of a shuttle craft as he was in the ride. The look of the craft was the same as the ride and Rex's position and mannerisms were the same. In fact, the same actor, Paul Reubens, starred in the ride and episode.

UX professionals can learn from this: don't be afraid to incorporate your UX extensions back into the main experience. If you have created a character for some project's side work (a booth for a trade show, a help video, etc), think about including it back into the main experience you created. A good way to make this part of your workflow is to adopt a constant comparative philosophy in which you evaluate all secondary UX work to see if it can feed up to the main experience or be incorporated into that main experience.