“Rebellions Are Built on Hope” – But Galactic Starcruiser Wasn’t. How the ‘Star Wars’ Hotel Was Doomed From the Start

in Star Wars, Walt Disney World

Star Wars: Galactic Starcuiser Facepalm

Credit: Disney

It seems there are very few fans of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser…

Credit: Disney

The Star Wars universe has a comprehensive catalog. There’s really no shortage of topics or characters to choose from, so it would stand to reason that Disney, the owner of Lucasfilm since 2012, would want to capitalize on that and bring some elements from the franchise to a Disney Park. They did so beautifully with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, incorporating an entirely original Star Wars story into an immersive, one-of-a-kind experience, but they wanted lightning to strike twice.

galaxy's edge disneyland
Credit: Inside the Magic

In 2022 Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser opened its doors to the public, and Disney leadership predicted overwhelming success. Former CEO Bob Chapek was supremely confident, boasting that it would soon be difficult to secure reservations and that the experience would be booked for months. This did not come to pass. In fact, with under a year in operation, Galactic Starcruiser has even been canceling voyages during peak season at the Walt Disney World Resort. So, why was this such a miss?

Where Did Galactic Starcruiser Fail Fiscally?

Perhaps the most obvious failing of Galactic Starcruiser has been the outrageous prices charged for what Guests receive. With a hefty price tag of nearly $5000 for just two people for two nights, it’s no wonder that Star Wars and Disney fans alike have had a bit of sticker shock with the experience.

Raith Kole on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Credit: Disney

Is Starcruiser Too Expensive?

The simple answer? Yes. But it’s not simply from a budget standpoint, but rather using basic comparison to other similar experiences, both inside and outside Disney. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is intended to mimic a cruise experience, even dubbing the two-night stay a “voyage,” replete with food included in your bill, a sublight lounge, and other activities like one might expect aboard a luxury cruise.

Galactic Starcruiser concept art
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Goes to Extreme Measures to Save Struggling ‘Star Wars’ Hotel

So, let’s break down the cost. For the Galactic Starcruiser, as we mentioned before, a two-night, two-person stay in a standard cabin will run Guests around $5000. How does that compare to other Disney cruises? A cursory investigation of the Disney Cruise website reveals that there are several round-trip packages for two Guests, including one that goes to Disney’s Castaway Cay, for under $2000…

disney magic cruise ship
Credit: Disney

Now, looking outside the House of Mouse. A quick search yielded results of as low as $210 per person for a three or four-night cruise! Using Disney’s own offerings, and offerings from outside vendors, there is simply no justification for the exorbitant price tag of the Galactic Starcruiser. Of course, there is the rebuttal, “Isn’t there more to do on Galactic Starcruiser?” and…

Don’t You Get What You Pay For?

This question gets into the discussion of our next topic of design, but when it comes to finances, you simply don’t get what you pay for. Again, this boils down to what is offered vs. what you pay.

According to the Disney Cruise website, included in the price of your cruise is the following:

  • Your stateroom, along with all applicable taxes and port fees
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Soft drinks served at meals and at each ship’s beverage station
  • Snacks and ice cream throughout the ship
  • Disney Character Meet & Greets
  • Entertainment including live Broadway-style productions at the Walt Disney Theatre as well as Disney movie classics and current first-run films at the Buena Vista Theatre
Disney wish cruise resized
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Now, according to the Galactic Starcruiser website, your $5000 will buy you:

…A 2-night stay in a well-appointed cabin or suite, meals (excluding alcoholic and specialty beverages), and the opportunity to live your Star Wars story through exclusive experiences, missions, and activities.

Using Disney’s own services as a rubric, the end does not justify the means in any way, shape, or form. At the end of the day, the average Guest will be paying much more for much less when it comes to Galactic Starcruiser.

But… It’s an Exclusive Experience! Doesn’t That Justify A Higher Price?

While there is something to say for exclusivity, are the experiences offered as part of Galactic Starcruiser really all that exclusive?

The characters Guests interact with are only on the Halcyon Starcruiser, which does make them exclusive, but the immersive experience itself isn’t all that singular. Any Guest walking through Galaxy’s Edge will be hard-pressed to hear a “Good Morning” from a Cast Member. Instead, you’ll hear “Bright Suns!” A customary greeting for the planet Batuu.

starcruiser lightsaber
Credit: D23

Admittedly, there are some things, like the lightsaber training, that are unique to the Galactic Starcruiser, but are they worth $5000?

Where Did the Galactic Starcruiser Fail In Design?

Design is a crucial element to any Disney experience, and for years, they were the authority when it came to Theme Park design. That is why when something falls short, it’s very easy for Guests to notice. A big note here: This is not an indictment of Walt Disney Imagineering! Instead, this falls to leadership, who are ultimately in charge of timetables, budget, and final say on characters and design.

Let’s Talk Architecture…

In Architecture, there are two considerable terms to describe function: “Duck” and “Decorated Shed.” Without going too far into it, a “Duck” refers to a building that is specifically designed for one purpose and references a famous building that is actually in the shape of a literal duck. A “Decorated Shed” would, therefore, be the opposite, a multi-use building that any sort of business could fill.

cars land california adventure
Credit: Disneyland Resort

Disney specializes in Ducks (more than just the Donald, Daisy, or Scrooge kind). Guests looking around the Park will see dozens of “Ducks” all around, from Main Street, U.S.A., to Adventureland, to Tomorrowland, and everywhere in between. It really helps sell the immersion of the parks and makes Guests feel like they’re part of the action.

(Center, L-R): Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Lucasfilm

So, did Starcruiser do the same? That’s a toughie. Imagineers were tasked with creating a Star Wars-themed hotel, but, unlike most of Star Wars, this couldn’t feel old or lived in. Who wants to sleep in a bed that looks like the seat cushions from the Millennium Falcon? What ended up happening, unfortunately, was what looks like a hotel version of the prison from Andor. Not the look you want for your $5000 hotel.

Ah, But a Big Part of the Experience Is the Characters! How do They Stack Up?

Understandably, when designing an original Star Wars experience like this, the average Disney Imagineer would have wanted to come up with original characters that Guests could interact with. If there’s a part of your story in which you visit Batuu, the storyline is also locked into the Sequel Trilogy Era. So, what is a designer to do?

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

Fitting in with the cruise ship theme, designers imagined up a Twi’lek lounge singer, a Rodian keyboardist, a Pantoran captain, and even a few cameos from heroes and villains from the Sequel Trilogy. So far, so good, right? Well, there are a few elements that really fail to hit the mark with these characters.

starcruiser gaya star wars
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Discounts ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Starcruiser Following Stagnant Bookings

The decadent atmosphere associated with a cruise ship, especially in the Star Wars Universe, doesn’t really conjure up images of the Rebel Alliance, the Resistance, or even The Republic, but rather fans’ minds are drawn to the casino on Canto Bight, not exactly the most heroic or even principled of people.

How Do These Characters Fail the Cast Members?

Another thing to remember is that, as opposed to Guests, these characters are employees, Cast Members who, in the words of a former Starcruiser Cast Member, have to be in character and ‘on’ both during the day, and the evening, an entire 48-hour shift. It’s brutal, to say the least!

starcruiser interior guests in bridge
Credit: Disney

The nature of the voyages on Starcruiser as it stands obliges the characters to be this involved, on-ship as it were, for the entire experience, but it does bring up a significant question.

How Could the Galactic Starcruiser be Improved?

As with any project like this, there’s a myriad of things that could be done to improve the Starcruiser, but in this article, we’ll outline just a few ways which could salvage the failing endeavor and make it more accessible and more popular among Disney and Star Wars fans.

You Guessed It: Price.

If the Starcruiser could come down in price, even to the same price or slightly higher than a Disney Cruise, then many more people could and would come and book the experience. It would also make it so there would be repeat customers! Disney has prided itself on repeatability with its attractions, so why not this one?

A Change In the Experience.

The last appearance from Din Djarin/The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) showed something which would be very possible to replicate. In The Book of Boba Fett, Mando (Pascal) takes a journey on public transportation. While not exactly a Halcyon, it does give fans a glimpse at an in-universe example that is more Star Wars than what appeared in Walt Disney World in 2021.

the mandalorian din djarin in the book of boba fett
Credit: Lucasfilm

A shift of theme like this would also allow for more stops, allowing a change of passengers, meaning that Guests could book a one-night stay, a two night, or even more without overtaxing Cast Members. With a transit system, Cast Members could easily switch out without breaking the storyline, which in turn would allow for an even more dynamic Star Wars adventure, introducing new characters and situations with more frequent “stops” along the cruise.

galactic starcruiser stormtroopers
Credit: Disney

In short, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is not too far gone, nor is it a bad idea in concept. The execution, price point, and value are where the experience suffers; unless significant changes are made, it will see fewer and fewer bookings.

Where do you think Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser could improve? Let us know in the comments below!

in Star Wars, Walt Disney World

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