It’s the end of a short-lived era for Star Wars fans at Walt Disney World, as Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s final voyage ended on September 30th 2023, marking the official closure of the hotel.
The Galactic Starcruiser was first announced during the D23 Expo 2017 and while it was originally planned to open on 2021, because of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it ended up opening on March 1st, 2022.
And just little over a year later, following mass cancellations, reduced voyages, and even after offering multiple discounts for the experience to no success, it was announced that the Galactic Starcruiser would be no more.
So, what exactly went wrong with this extraordinary Disney offering? Let’s break it down.
1. The concept of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was always meant to be beyond your typical Star Wars-themed hotel. It was described as a 2-night experience where guests took on immersive role-playing roles on a simulated cruise through outer space within the Star Wars universe.
This included several technologically enhanced and cast member-lead activities (more on that and the cabins below), unique dinning options, and The Chandrila Collection, a gift shop that had exclusive pieces of Star Wars merch that could not be found anywhere else.
It also included a “field trip” to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and special activities that could be accessed through the Star Wars: Datapad app and the guests’ complimentary MagicBands.
What went wrong?
While the Starcruiser was certaingly a novel idea that did appeal to many Star Wars superfans, the reality is that Disney shot itself in the foot by trying to appeal to such a reduced and limited target.
What’s more, since the Starcruiser operated on limited activities and storylines, most guests showed little interest on having the experience more than once. And obviously the insane cost of said experience was a huge defining factor as well. But more on that later.
Dates for voyages were also limited and they were not meant to last for longer than the regular 2 night’s stay experience, so many guests resented that there was not as much availability and flexibility that other WDW resort hotels do offer.
In addition to that, the immersive experience was mostly confined to the hotel itself (Except for the short trip to Hollywood Studios) so that meant that guests had no chance to explore any of the other parks during their stay.
And so, if they wanted to extend their vacations beyond the 2 nights, they would’ve had to resort to finding new accomodations for ther rest of their stay in Orlando (At an added and even greater expense to them).
2. The accommotations at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The hotel had 100 guest rooms in total, featuring the Standard Cabins for up to 5 guests, the Galaxy Class Suites for up to 4 guests and the Grand Captain Suites for up to 8 guests.
Rooms were designed to simulate cabins within the Halycon Starcruiser spaceship and featured many little special Star Wars nods such as the view of the Galaxy from the cabin’s “window” and the presence of a virtual interactive Droid.
Amenities also included a mini refrigerator, hair dryer, in-cabin safe, phone, H2O Plus spa, bath and shower products, interactive TV, and more.
What went wrong?
This was one of the most criticized parts of the experience. As impressive as the cabins looked, most guests thought that they looked like generic spaceship cabins and that they were not truly immersive to the Star Wars theme.
Cabins were also criticized for being quite small (even the suites) and basic, not actually luxurious enough to justify the hotel’s high price per night. Although it was also pointed out that guests actually spent most of their stay outside joining in the activities and not in their cabins.
Still, this was once cause of extreme mockery on social media and it definitely turned many people away from giving the Starcruiser experience a chance.
3. The activities at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The activities available included lightsaber training and duels, model ship building, Droid racing tournaments, Ryloth dance lessons, Galactic Trivia, among many others. Some activities were cast member-led or guided and some could be accessed individually through the Star Wars: Datapad app.
There were also many events and shows that allowed guests to mingle amongst themselves and also select Star Wars characters. And as we mentioned earlier, a special field trip to Galaxy’s Edge was also included and, once there, guests were treated to many special experiences.
What went wrong?
There were not many complaints regarding the activities itselves, but it was reported that many of the planned immersive activities within Galaxy’s Edge were cancelled ahead of the Starcruiser’s opening and that sometimes the activities’ schedules would get messed up during the voyages.
Many also critiziced the extreme need of use of the formentioned Datapad app, as it made them spend too much time on their phones and also Wi-Fi in the hotel was only available for the use of the app, needing to rely on their personal data for other internet uses.
Some guests also found the field trip to Galaxy’s Edge distracting as they felt it disrupted the immersive experience of the Starcruiser by entering the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.
4. The cost of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The prices for this experience ranged from about $4,809 to a whopping $5,999 USD per voyage (About $749 to $1,209 USD per guest per night). And those were the off-season prices.
The cost for Disney to bring this concept to life on the other hand, has been rumored to be over a billion dollars. And that’s not even counting the regular costs of operation that included several cast members on site, from chefs and waiters, to actors and activity planners.
What went wrong?
This was naturally the #1 reason of concern about the experience. Even with the later-added discounts, Disney definitely opted to price out the middle-class families from the Starcruiser, leaving it as a luxury experience available for very wealthy Star Wars fans and families only.
And between this and the low-return rate left among its existing guests, it wasn’t long before Disney realized that this project would not be successful or sustainable on the long run. In fact, some analysts believe that it would have been years before this hotel would have truly become profitable for the company.
Which is why Disney Parks Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, was eventually forced to admit earlier this year that “It didn’t perform exactly like we wanted it to perform. Despite the fact it was a never before seen experience and raised the bar” and announced that the experience would be closing permanently.
So, what’s next?
At the time of writing this article, Disney has not yet revealed any plans for the now-vacant Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel.
Some fans speculate that it could become a regular (and more affordable) Star Wars hotel, others think that it could become a new Star-Wars ride or dining experience, and some others even believe that it could be rethemed to a new Marvel experience.
What do you think would be the best course of action for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? Were you ever able to go on a voyage yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Keep checking TheDisInsider.com for all new updates about the now-difunct Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. And remember:
You can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from settingShmi Skywalker