Theme Park Insider

Let's talk about Disney's theme park and hotel plans for Star Wars

July 20, 2017, 3:07 PM · As much as some theme park fans might be excited about news that Walt Disney World will open Guardians of the Galaxy and TRON roller coasters — among other new rides and shows — over the next few years, let's face what's probably far more important. Disney's Star Wars developments will be the new attractions that really move the needle and draw more fans to the resort.

But Disney's not taking an easy way out with Star Wars. Rather than recreating an iconic location from the films, it is setting the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios on a new world in the Star Wars universe. I wrote about the risks and rewards of that move in my Orange County Register column this week: Will Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland succeed in taking us to a galaxy far, far away?

Will setting Galaxy's Edge in an unfamiliar location hurt the project? Fans on Twitter responded:

If anyone thought that creating a new planetary setting for the Star Wars land was an audacious move, Disney is blowing past that by creating a fully immersive Star Wars themed hotel that sounds more like being part of a real-life MMORPG than staying at a traditional hotel.

Star Wars resort

From AJ's story about the D23 reveal of the project: "Using mock windows, guests will feel like they are aboard a starship traveling the galaxy, and nothing aboard will break that illusion in any way."

"This is a brand new concept for a multi-day immersive adventure. Not only is the hotel themed to the Star Wars galaxy, but every guest will live and breathe Star Wars from the moment they enter until the moment they leave."

Theme park fans have been clamoring for years for more immersive themed resort experiences, in which they can extend the illusion of visiting a beloved environment from a few hours in a park to several days in a hotel. While Star Wars holds obvious appeal as such a hotel destination, Harry Potter fans have been demanding the chance to stay in Hogwarts, The Leaky Cauldron, or The Three Broomsticks, as well.

And now, Universal is surveying its passholders and guests about Disney's Star Wars hotel, perhaps to gauge interest in a Harry Potter themed alternative. Of course, that would need the blessing of J.K. Rowling to proceed. But as Potter helped spur development at Disney, perhaps Star Wars could do the same at Universal.

Of course, full authenticity for these themes might carry a price beyond a steep nightly rate.

What would you like to see Disney and Universal do with fully themed hotel experiences, including Star Wars, Potter, or anything else?

You Also Might Like:

Replies (36)

July 20, 2017 at 3:39 PM · Call me a cynic, but I really wonder how far Disney is willing to go with the immersive concept.... I mean, this is the company that put Mickey ears on Darth Vader. I just don't see them being able to resist putting a Disney merch store inside the hotel or within the land itself....
July 20, 2017 at 3:47 PM · Robert, do you have any additional details on what types of questions Universal is asking regarding the Star Wars hotel? I love both properties but I would shell out money for Hogwarts sooner than Star Wars to stay at a themed hotel.
July 20, 2017 at 4:17 PM · There is a rule, I read from a creative person in the industry, that something in a theme park (and in this case probably to this heavily themed hotel) should do for guests when it's ip based. I like that rule. It states there are 3 kind of guests:
1) The uber fan. They know every in and out of the ip. They will spend the most money per person and they represent the smallest group.
2) The guest that heard about it or likes it but it's not like a religion to them. They don't get the smallest detail but enjoy the big picture and will spend "regular".
3) The guest who doesn't know or care about the ip. They often don't spend money and couldn't care less about the details.
A themed experience should appeal to every single group to be called successful.

I'm in group 2 for Potter but I love the lands at Universal and it's rides, restaurants and stores. But I'd never go and stay at a Potter hotel because I'm sure the price wouldn't be worth it to me. The guests in group 1 probably would but it's a relatively small group and I don't think a hotel would be feasible.

For Star Wars I'm in group 1 (especially the original trilogy and I enjoy the new ones somewhat). I've seen the movies countless times and have the laser sword collection to prove it. I'm a huge fan but the new land doesn't do it for me and neither the hotel. I don't recognise anything except for some vehicles, architectural styles and characters. To me it looks like a very expensive Chinese rip-off made by a group of people from guest group number 2 and 3. Seeing R2 or Darth Vader is reminding me of countless encounters on con's, out of place but recognisable. My stomach turns when I see the New Order march through Hollywood at DHS, It's like seeing pirates walk in Tomorrowland. This is clearly not for me but I'm sure group 2 and maybe 3 will like it. Will the hotel be a hit? Sure, if the Mickey Ear crowd can cough up the price but not me.

July 20, 2017 at 5:14 PM · I like the analysis OT, I would probably be group 1 for Star Wars and group 2 for Potter. But I guess I see the new Star Wars developments in a different light. I am, as a fan of the universe, excited to be part of the world in a NEW way. To be in the Star Wars universe but experiencing a new aspect of it.

As far as themed hotel experiences.. it could be incredible. I just hope it doesn't cost the top dollar it is rumored to cost. It will be interesting to see how they balance appealing to the experts of Star Wars as well as the 8 year old boy who just likes Darth Vader.

July 20, 2017 at 6:36 PM · I'm going to continue in my cynical vein and argue that Disney actually IS taking the easy way out -- by basing the land and hotel on a Star Wars "type" location, they are almost completely free of having to meet guests' specific expectations. They can say they're providing a Star Wars experience without actually having to recreate the Death Star, Jabba's Palace or the cantina.

Speaking of the cantina brings up another thought.... Part of what makes the WWOHP so immersive is the gift that J.K. Rowling gave to Universal -- not only do her books provide locations and characters, but she also spells out in detail what those characters eat and what they buy when they shop. Guests go to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade expecting to be able to eat certain things and buy certain things and they CAN. There isn't any of that in Star Wars. Other than the infamous "blue milk" from Episode IV and the rather inedible looking energy bar that Yoda steals from Luke in Episode V, I can't think of many times when the characters ate.

So, again, Disney may have to work a little harder to create some of this stuff -- what should be served in the restaurants, what should be available in stores (other than the obvious lightsabres, action figures, etc.) -- they really aren't having to meet that many preconceived notions of their guests.

July 20, 2017 at 7:07 PM · Actually the new planet setting solved an immersion problem. How do you walk from Tatooine to Hoth and not spoil the illusion? A one setting new planet solves that. The risk is that it seems to be solely in the new trilogy setting, which is fine with me, but what if the next two movies are duds? As a super fan, they are managing my expectations very well. The attractions are looking good. I like going to Universal and not being able to buy anything like Cokes or non-Potter items in that area. You feel like you are in the world. If you go to the Galaxy Edge and can buy Mickey Mouse dolls with light sabers and Death Star Mickey Mouse Ears, that will be trouble. The poster above is correct. What makes Potter so perfect is that it is easy for them to shoe horn food and merchandise into the environment, since it existed in the story. Not much food and merchandise in Star Wars. There is that blue milk. Bread that appears from powder. The live frog thing Jabba slurps down. So they will have to solve that. The hotel seems to be another challenge. $400 is just too much money. Sure, they can charge that for some of their hotels, but I would really have to see what comes with that price tag, especially when Universal offers hotels for $220 with front of the line access to attractions. If it is just to dress up and role play with no other perks, no thank you. Early and late access to the land with extra fast passes, walking distance to the new land with a gate entrance, and preferred reservations, then yes. I will say things are looking good, but it cannot be cast members in the blue Star Tour uniforms, and I think they know that. They need Wookiee cast members that only grunt at guests. Robots that walk around. Cast members in costumes, not uniforms. They need to sell this land more than any others.
July 20, 2017 at 7:36 PM · Universal should do a haunted hotel for haunt fans. Disney should do a Pirates hotel with Red Head.
July 20, 2017 at 8:19 PM · Im not sure if Disney can match Universals level. Pandora the World of Avatar already has a wilderness exploers check point inside the land past the glowing smoking tree. It has not even been open 6 months and the immersion is already ruined right when you walk in by boyscouts from Pixars Up. I thought the jungle sounds were Kevin
July 20, 2017 at 8:29 PM · JC VanHouten Disney has reportedly paid vendors so it can NOT display their logos in SW:GE. I don't think you are going to find Mickey Ears in Star Wars Land. They are going for immersive. All of the employees in the land will be in character - droids, aliens, troops, etc. Even the shopkeepers.

Also, the Star Wars Resort survey indicated the price for a 2-night stay could be $900-1,000. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes in above that. People will pay it.

Lastly, I consider myself group #1 for Star Wars and Harry Potter. C'mon people, where are your geek credentials?

July 20, 2017 at 9:22 PM · I think a whole new planet is awesome. Star Wars features dozens very different of landscapes. The setting that "feels" consistently Star Wars is a spaceship. Galaxy's Edge enables Disney to provide known architecture, in a new space. I might be in the minority here, but if I'm paying money to go to a theme park, I appreciate something new mixed in with the familiar. I want something I can only see there.
July 20, 2017 at 11:37 PM · I remember Jay Rasulo toying with the idea of a Star Wars boutique park, because Disney wanted to copy the success of Sea World's Discovery Cove (swim with dolphins). So this SW hotel sounds like a better idea to me.

It sounds similar to the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, which was awesome. It was like a guided tour of the 'real' Enterprise with working crew members and a transporter effect that was pretty convincing.

I can imagine the SW hotel being a two-day experience where you live the story from morning to night, or at least I hope that's what it is. $1000-2000 for a family of four might be ok, or something close to the cost of a cruise ship.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge - ugh I hate that name...I know that Iger wanted to feature the new films, I like both Force Awakens and Rogue One, but somehow they haven't captured my imagination like the original trilogy.

Maybe because they were the original ones, or maybe because I was younger then...I don't know. I really hope that they build future lands based on the original trilogy, because to me they are timeless. The only hope I see is if and when they build the third theme park in Anaheim, but when will that be? 10-20 years from now?

July 21, 2017 at 12:16 AM · I agree with JC, "setting" Star Wars land on a new planet is a great move. They can evoke lots of different SW planets through the look and feel of the place, without people getting bogged down in wondering where exactly they are at the moment.
July 21, 2017 at 5:50 AM · Galaxy's Edge should have been known properties, plain and simple. Disney took the easy way out so that uber old-school Star Wars fans like myself could not be too critical.

New-era Star Wars kids will beg their over-leveraged parents to foot the bill at the new Star Wars hotel. Stupid parents will pay it, too.

I'm sure they will do some interesting things, but Star Wars will never fit in at Disney in my mind. The picture of George Lucas with Darth Goofy floating around the web proves that!

July 21, 2017 at 6:15 AM · "It sounds similar to the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, which was awesome. It was like a guided tour of the 'real' Enterprise with working crew members and a transporter effect that was pretty convincing."

I totally agree Disfan, and was going to draw the same comparison. However, what made the Star Trek Experience work was not the way it was run, but the guests that inhabited it. It was a year-long Star Trek convention with people geeking out at Quark's. Aside from the bartenders, ride ops, and actors on the 2 attractions, there were very few employees inhabiting the space. Much of what made it work was that people came to Las Vegas, dressed up, and played the part, granted if you drank a whole Warp Core Breach it was easy for anyone to think they were Gul Ducat matching wits with Odo.

I think a similar line of thinking could work for Star Wars, but only on a slightly larger scale. They can have cast members that are specifically trained to not only operate the hotel and associated activities, but also play a theatrical role. The real question will be how much freedom will the cast members be given. Will they be like Jungle Cruise Skippers with wide latitude to interact with guests in various ways, or are they forced to adhere to a specific script that gets played out identically every 2-3 days? Will Disney allow non-hotel guests to pay to enter (or spend a minimum on food, beverage, and swag) to inhabit the space as their own characters (like many "regulars" that hung out at Quark's), reducing the costs necessary for hired "extras".

Also, there's the question of size. How many rooms will this hotel have? Will it be a boutique hotel with a few dozen rooms, making the guest population around 100 or so people that may seem "dead" in the middle of the day when guests are exploring the park (unless as mentioned above that Disney allows people to loiter and inhabit the space without booking a room), or will it be a larger hotel with a hundred or more rooms and a "live" atmosphere with a greater chance of guests hanging out in the hotel during park hours?

It really comes down to how many guests Disney thinks can fill this space and how big the space needs to be to make it convincing. Of course people in surveys will say they'll spend hundreds of dollars for an experience like this, but when the time comes to put down a deposit and commit to a $1+k/day experience, how many of those guests will get cold feet and start thinking like rational people instead of uber fans? These are tough questions Disney needs to figure out, and it's not as simple as "build it and they will come". There's an expectation of anything with the Disney name, and an additional bar that's been set by Star Wars fans. That's 2 huge hurdles that need to be cleared, and while everything sounds amazing on paper, we all know what becomes reality can be very different.

Disney has experience with an immersive experience like this, but it was closed nearly a decade ago. The Adventurer's Club at Pleasure Island featured an immersive story with a handful of actors filling a highly themed room, allowing guests to explore and create their own unique story within. If the Star Wars hotel can mimic what Adventurer's Club was able to capture, only on a larger scale, Disney will have a surefire hit on their hand that many guests will be willing to mortgage their house to experience.

July 21, 2017 at 6:07 AM · I remember back in the early 2000's Tony Baxter talking about a fully immersive themed experience. He wanted to emulate a theater model rather than a theme park model. He said "rather than waiting hours to spend 5 minutes in the world of Indiana Jones imagine spending three hours living an Indiana Jones adventure". He was going for a live rolplaying, interactive theater type experience. Also around the same time there were rumors of a Tower of Terror boutique hotel. It seems the this Star Wars hotel is the evolution of these ideas. I would love to experience this, but alas they are going to price me and many fans way out.
July 21, 2017 at 7:27 AM · Disney will obviously need a way to limit access to Galaxy's Edge. The whole world will want to descend on Orlando when the attractions open, and, as anyone who has experienced Toy Story Mania in Disney Studios can tell you, whether or not they are actually bored/uninterested, simply getting into the attraction is a status symbol for many overseas visitors.
July 21, 2017 at 7:32 AM · I have said this many times in the past. If Disney wants to go full in on Star Wars, just take the entire Hollywood park and convert it to all Star Wars..

Tower of terror = Vader's revenge.
RNR coaster - The Millennium Falcon experience.
Toy story become Blaster's Battle.
(I know, I know all of the toy story folks will complain)

There so much Disney could do...
Private functions, Star wars convention's and on and on and on....

July 21, 2017 at 7:37 AM · There have been several price tags thrown out. $1000 a person or $1000 for a family of four for a two day experience. If it is a two day inclusive experience, then that is either $4000 or $1000. That is a big difference. Again, if it is just interacting with cast members and dressing up, $1000 a day is insane, and I am such a fan I can tell you the number of the door of the Death Star trash compactor. Again, you can buy a robe and an interactive wand at Universal, dress up, and not have to stand in a line for much, much less. They are going to have to throw some serious perks in at that rate. Sure people will pay it, but people pay to stay at the Grand Floridian too. I make a lot of money, but I am sorry, that is just stupid. You have to understand, Star Wars will appeal to a huge different income demographics. I believe in making money and all, but if it really is $1000 a day, then that is nuts. Depending on the perks $400 is high. And if it is per person fee, man, that is crazy.

They should have two packages. One for people that want to stay in the hotel, enjoy the perks that it better have like gate access and early entry but just want to stay in the hotel. Another package for people that want to do the immersive dress up experience. The price for that can include the clothing and all. Yes, people will pay, but they will have lots of people that will pay once and never, ever return or many repeat customers depending on how they price it. The repeat customers may not necessarily come back to Star Wars, but they will go to other parts of WDW.

July 21, 2017 at 8:05 AM · The $1,000/night is coming from the surveys Disney conducted a few months ago. The numbers seem about right, especially if this is going to be a very limited experience. It really depends on how many rooms this hotel will have. If it's a few dozen, with a highly restrictive stay duration (can ONLY book 2-night stays as rumored), I think the $1,000/night price point will be needed to make sure those that want to do it will be able to book it. If we're talking about a hundred or more identical rooms, the $1,000/night price point may be a bit too high to ensure 90-100% occupancy (considering how much it's likely going to cost Disney to build and operate this hotel, the standard 70% occupancy rate to remain profitable wouldn't apply).

I think Disney will price it where it needs to be to ensure nearly full occupancy 365 days a year. If that price is $1,000/night, that's what it will be. If it's $500/night or $2,000/night, that's what it will cost. Guests will speak with their wallets. There are already rooms at WDW that approach the $1,000/night threshold during peak times, so people will obviously pay it. I also think that we're looking at this as just another hotel, when I think Disney is thinking about this concept as a once in a lifetime experience. People are willing to pay a premium for something that's rare and unique (like the $600/person EPCOT F&W Festival Event at Victoria & Albert's that sells out every single year), and if it's viewed as "once in a lifetime", then price is no object. It's getting to a point where a trip to WDW is now becoming a once in a lifetime/once a decade venture for many families, and this hotel offers a way for that one trip (or every 10-years trip) to be all the more special. For those of us that are used to visiting WDW every couple years (or more), it's difficult wrapping one's head around the idea of making such a splurge for a couple nights in a hotel. We made a similar splurge once on a WDW trip over 10 years ago by staying at AKL and realized spending $250/night on a fancy hotel room overlooking the Savannah wasn't for us. Spending 4-times that in today's dollars to be immersed in Star Wars doesn't seem any crazier than what we did at AKL, so I don't think Disney will have a problem filling it.

Again, it will come down to how many rooms they have/need to fill. I don't think they have to offer anything beyond exclusive access to Galaxy's Edge and a few unique spaces to get people to book at the rumored $1,000/night rate. However, I would hope Disney will take the extra step to make this a real home run as a living breathing extension of the Star Wars universe.

July 21, 2017 at 8:16 AM · The real question is whether that is the cost for the entire family or is there a additional person upcharge. The real question is what will it include? Quality Jedi robes or clothing of your choice and the extra perks that I mentioned above. I suppose there are many unanswered questions at this point. With the hotel being a speceship, it could conceivably have playground areas like Tom Sawyer Island like an abandoned base on Hoth or Jabbas palace. Or it could just be a cheap hotel with Star Wars bedsheets. Nobody knows in the general public.
July 21, 2017 at 8:54 AM · Rack rates at Aulani start at $399 a night (plus 14% hotel tax). The hotel has a few inclusive, and some up-charge, activities. The theme is immersive, but partly because it inhabits the same space it represents.
Grand Floridian, with a somewhat less impressive take on themed environments, starts at $650 to $700.
The cost of delivering an immersive experience of the nature they have implied, especially factoring in staffing, will far exceed either property.
To think that this will be anywhere under $800 per room per night is pure wish fulfilment. Prices STARTING at $1000 / night would seem like a realistic minimum.
It is indeed depressing that this will prohibitive to a significant proportion of the population, but to be the game changing experience they are hinting at it may well be necessary.
I have seen many people drawing similarities to Westworld - attendance there was very expensive too!
July 21, 2017 at 9:03 AM · Disney already charges a 25-30% premium for their "Pirate" and "Princess" themed rooms that are essentially some themed bedding and art on the wall. So it's conceivable that some Star Wars sheets and Han in Carbonite in the closet would be enough to get people to open their wallets. However, the fact that Disney has stated this would be "interactive" and "immersive" indicates to me that it's more than some fancy linens and art in the room themed to Star Wars.

I would doubt at the $1,000/night price point that it would include costumes, unless you're just renting them for your stay (like at a Ren. Faire). If you think about it, Jedi robes, even plain ones, would likely be sold at a retail price approaching $100 or more (HP House Robes are in that same range today). I think the only other "perks" a hotel like this would offer could be access to hotel-exclusive programming (think events on a cruise ship), some level of exclusive access (early entry, after hours access) to Galaxy's Edge, perhaps automatic FP+ reservations on the 2 rides, and maybe a special Disney PhotoPass for the duration of the stay. I doubt any food would be included, and I strongly feel that costumes won't be included (many guests would likely bring their own anyway).

The most detailed information about this hotel experience I've seen so far seemed to indicate that the rumored $900-$1,000/night base rate would be for double-occupancy, and that additional people in the room (kids) would be charged a "resort fee" of possibly $100 or more per guest, which seems reasonable especially if there's exclusive programming for hotel guests (i.e. more guests in each room requires more cast members to run the events).

July 21, 2017 at 9:34 AM · The last thing that I want to see is a bunch of new-era Star Wars brats walking around with mouse ears on and a lightsaber and thinking that they understand Star Wars.

The great thing about Star Trek experience was that it used known ships and sets, and true Star Trek geeks could visit Quark's Bar, the bridge of the Enterprise, and fight the Borg.

Disney takes that away and caters not to the hardcore Star Wars fan, but to the cash cow following that they are generating with their new movies. From an economic perspective they are doing the right thing, but let's not pretend this is like Harry Potter world or The Star Trek Experience.

July 21, 2017 at 10:43 AM · But what is a "hardcore Star Wars fan"? Is it someone who can recite the movies by heart, someone with the Original Trilogy on Laserdisc, someone with thousands of dollars in action figures, or someone that thinks Greedo shot first, someone who wouldn't know Bossk from a Bantha but loves Jar Jar Binks, or someone who is willing to pay $1,000/night to immerse themselves in the universe for a couple of days?

Star Trek was different when the Experience was running at the Hilton. It had a "nerd" element to it, when the idea of a going to a "Star Trek" convention carried with it a sort of Scarlet Letter, and only the true-believers would dare enter the halls to Live Long and Prosper, despite the franchise's wide popularity. Those who got married at Quark's were either drunk and regretted it or knew their Klingon vows by heart.

With the explosion of ComicCon and other nerd-gathering events, the level of fandom of certain franchises has far more diversity, and you no longer need to live, breath, and die your favorite characters to consider yourself a "fan", though some superfans still do. I'd say Star Trek is still on a higher "Nerd Plane" than Star Wars (probably up there with Doctor Who), the Galaxy Far Far Away is probably on par with Harry Potter, with Middle earth somewhere between those 2 and Trekers/Whovians.

This hotel is liable to attract across the entire spectrum of fandom (those with Death Star-themed bathrooms in their house to those with just a pair R2D2 Mickey Ears and digital copies of the most recent movies), and I don't think any level of limitations or extreme pricing will prevent that. Let's face it, it's cool to be a Star Wars fan right now, and there's nothing Disney can do (or would want to do) to stop that.

July 21, 2017 at 11:00 AM · @Russel Meyer

Harry Potter and Middle Earth are distinctly different from Star Wars in that they began as highly detailed and well-written literature. Star Wars did not, Star Trek did not.

A hardcore Star Wars fan is probably best defined as someone who is disappointed that Disney acquired the franchise :-D

July 21, 2017 at 11:14 AM · "A hardcore Star Wars fan is probably best defined as someone who is disappointed that Disney acquired the franchise :-D"

If that's the case, those folks are not going to WDW anyway. I think a lot of those who feel they're "hardcore" fans (myself included), would beg to differ, and cannot be more excited to see the franchise take off the way it has in the past 5 years. Lucas was killing it, and the Disney acquisition could not have been more perfectly timed or executed (other than Disney should have done it before acquiring Avatar so Galaxy's Edge would be open right now). Is everything that Disney has done so far to Star Wars great (Phil Lord and Chris Miller might have but some nasty-grams in the corporate suggestion box)?
There were tons of things Lucas did that pissed off "hardcore" fans too. I say, ride the wave, and enjoy it. At some point Star Wars will reach saturation, just like anything else, and all of the lemmings wearing their Mickey ears and talking Wookie masks will find something else to latch onto. We "real" fans will still have Dantooine.

July 21, 2017 at 12:12 PM · @Russell Meyer

George Lucas screwed up with his prequel trilogy. Force Awakens was "safe" as was Rogue One.

There aren't many movies that get better as they get this deep into a franchise. Star Wars will be no different. "Star Wars" will always be episodes 4, 5, and 6 with a bunch of extra stuff tacked on at either end.

Will I check out the themed hotel and the SW land? Maybe. Would I prefer a land that appealed to me more on a 4,5,6 basis and not a bunch of younglings who think they are going to be Rey? Absolutely.

July 21, 2017 at 1:14 PM · "George Lucas screwed up with his prequel trilogy. Force Awakens was "safe" as was Rogue One."

Most fans would say Return of the Jedi was "safe" too, and the two really good films in the saga were screwed up by Lucas forever through the Special Editions that permeate all currently available copies of the Original Trilogy. In most cases, those are the only versions of IV, V, and VI that people have seen (yes, I have rare DVD copies of the original versions with that impressive 2.1 stereo soundtrack, matte lines and all, and my parents have them on VHS, sadly I have the Special Editions on VHS too).

Franchises rarely get better as they progress, they just make more and more money for the principles. However, I'd much rather see mediocre Star Wars movies get made every year or two (Disney might be pushing their luck with this every year, or 2 every year they've suggested) than nothing for 25 years and three terribly scripted and directed movies from Lucas. I also don't begrudge the younger generation from exploring the franchise from their own points of view that may be counter to the way I view the films (though I insisted my son watch the Original - non-Special Edition - Trilogy first before the Bastardization, Prequels, and current Disney offerings). I'm secure in my fandom for the franchise and all of the bandwagon fans piling on over the past 4 years doesn't change my love for everything Star Wars. BTW, I'm a huge JJ fan, so Force Awakens was pure bliss (even if it is practically a shot for shot remake of ANH), and I felt Rogue One was quite possibly the most tonally perfect Star Wars film EVER (even better than ESB, YES, I said another SW film was better than Empire).

July 21, 2017 at 3:12 PM · I think "Galaxy's Edge" was the smart choice. Honestly, just seeing the different perspectives in this thread shows how particular people can be. While it might seem to be the "easy way" out, it's also the most logical in terms of appealing to the widest audience.

There are fans who love the OT, millennials who grew up & connect closely with the prequels. Then there are the general fans.

The Star Wars "universe" doesn't take place in any one particular location. If you set it on Hoth, you could alienate people who might feel it should be set on Endor, or Tatoonie, or the death star....

Disney is casting the widest net possible.

July 21, 2017 at 3:42 PM · After thinking about this for a couple days, I can't help but feel that the term "hotel" may be a bit of a misnomer for whatever Disney is doing with Star Wars. The more I hear about it, the more it sounds like an exclusive multi-day experience and less like a place guests are going to stay during their vacation. So, while all of the following is purely speculation, it is what I get once I put on my Theme Park Apprentice cap:

Thanks to advantages in intergalactic travel, the Star Tours travel agency has developed a new vacation itinerary. Unlike their previous adventures, this one is a multi-day excursion, taking guests to the edge of wild space aboard a brand new star cruiser. Guests park at the Star Tours terminal, and following check-in and a security screening, they board transport ships up to the cruiser waiting in Earth orbit. Once everyone is aboard, the ship sets off toward the planet (insert Star Wars Land planet). Due to the distance involved, the trip will take approximately 24 hours, so passengers are free to engage in all kinds of activities aboard the cruiser. Once they arrive, guests take shuttles down to the planet, where they get to experience it at a time when the now frequent tourists are not around. After the excursion is complete, guests are shuttled back to the star cruiser, which then sets off for the return trip to Earth.

With this set-up, guests would not see anything that could break the illusion from the moment they arrive until the moment they depart. It would begin before dinner on the first day, then last the entire next day and end after breakfast the day after. The hotel would not be for guests who are looking for a place to stay while visiting Walt Disney World...this is a specific Star Wars experience for those who want to leave the real world completely for a couple days. It would also allow Disney to come with with different story options. In other words, different unscheduled events happen on each flight. The highlight would also be not only visiting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge outside park operating hours, but getting to visit as passengers on an interstellar cruise rather than as theme park guests out for the day (and, with careful planning, the area could be incorporated into the experience without giving away that it is part of the theme park).

For this to work and remain financially viable, Disney would probably need to have 1,000-2,000 guests on each "star cruise," and it would probably need to cost at least $500 per passenger (children in the same room could probably be discounted). That price would be all-inclusive for the duration of the experience (excluding souvenirs), but to work at a lower price point there would need to be way more guests involved to cover the operating costs. Also, while it may sound expensive, were the experience pitched as mentioned above I'm betting rooms would go faster than the tables at Be Our Guest.

As for Galaxy's Edge, I'd put myself at a 1.5 for Star Wars on OT's scale (or maybe a bit closer to 1, but definitely not all the way there), and I think Disney is making a lot of smart choices with the way they're creating the land. As much as I'd love to visit Tatooine, Hoth, Naboo, or Coruscant, if you want to go with a single immersive land it needs to be something that combines the greatest hits in a way that works well with all visitors. Should Disney ever build a full Star Wars park (highly, highly, highly unlikely), then I hope they'd try to recreate as many of the locations seen throughout the films as possible. With how many worlds there are, however, for a single land a new world is better than picking one and excluding all others.

July 23, 2017 at 10:01 PM · Good point, AJ.

Some people have criticized the fact that Disney is building the same SW land on both coasts, but I think that is a smart move. These lands are going to be INSANELY popular. Now imagine if there was just one of them opening? Utter chaos. Opening two of them will take pressure off both. Yes they will both still be mobbed, but it would be far worse if there was only one Star Wars Land in the whole world. I think this is the only IP that can top Potter for sheer, broad-based appeal and popularity.

July 24, 2017 at 8:17 AM · I think you're on the right track AJ, but I don't think it's going to be a fully immersed experience where guests never go anywhere outside of Star Wars during their stay. I'm thinking it might be more of combination of a cruise-type experience and escape room, where guests check into their highly themed hotel room and are offered a layered itinerary that allows them to be as interactive as they want. They will be given a menu of options that would likely include exclusive access to Galaxy's Edge (though I highly doubt they would be limited to only times when the land is closed to regular guests), special games, scavenger hunts, faux training sessions, etc..., but guests will "register" at check in (or perhaps online in advance like picking up FP+ reservations) for the activities they find the most intriguing to them, and if nothing interests them, they'll be free to go anywhere within the WDW resort they want (or anywhere else in Orlando for that matter). What's preventing Disney from setting up the conceit that the guests are from the Galaxy Far Far Away, and are visiting Earth through the portal that Galaxy's Edge will become?

I think going the full immersive route would leave too many guests disappointed that they are trapped in the Star Wars universe and unable to leave. The immersion will be done on an as-desired basis throughout the 2-night stay, and guests would still be able to visit other Disney Parks while they're staying at the Star Wars hotel. I just don't see Disney forcing guests into a completely closed experience with no out. There's definitely something to be said for not wanting to break the illusion, but I don't think Disney will get high guest satisfaction ratings if people are unable to leave the universe they've paid thousands of dollars to enter.

I feel that guests would need to have the option to consume as much or as little of the programming as they want. After all, they're the ones ponying up the money for the experience, and if someone wants to just dabble a little bit in Star Wars while spending the majority of their time at DAK, so be it.

I definitely think you're on track in terms of how many guests it would take to pull this off, because the guests will be needed to make this work as much as talented cast members.

July 24, 2017 at 10:15 AM · I assume that since they are offering a 2 night stay, there still won't be enough to do at the hotel without a trip to Star Wars Land. At least one day is included as a trip to Star Wars Land with Fastpass and front row seats to see the fireworks at DHS. In the remaining time, you can explore the Star Wars Hotel by visiting it's own special cantina, have a nice daycare center, and have role playing games (which I expect the initial level to be free and the higher levels to cost money). This is done at Great Wolf Lodge with great success. As for the pool, the obvious theme is Gungan City at Naboo.
July 24, 2017 at 1:11 PM · So, as long as we're brainstorming what "immersive" would mean, and how to justify the hypothetical high cost, here's a compact list of precedents (some of which have already been mentioned) whose paradigms could be synthesized:

* Large group package tours
* Cruise ship to an exotic destination
* A weekend-long SF convention (the classic fan-run kind, not SDCC)
* LARPing
* Renaissance faires
* The framing story at "Pirates Dinner Theater" and similar
* "Star Trek: The Experience" at Las Vegas
* Murder mystery dinner parties
* Themed escape rooms

Now, Disney might not want to explicitly lock visitors away from mundane Orlando, but the "tour directors" (starting with pre-trip materials) might *strongly encourage* them to fully commit to the illusion -- hopefully with arguments more subtle than "get your money's worth."

July 25, 2017 at 3:24 PM · I find it interesting that nobody has brought up basic operations of a hotel and the staff needed to operate it - the back of house team, housekeeping engineering and kitchen teams. These employees make up the bulk of the head count at any hotel. Speaking from experience, they are highly dedicated, amazingly hard working, but are probably not going to be interested in role play or wearing elaborate costumes. I wonder what Disney has planned for them and how they will engage with guests in this elaborately themed and role play environment.
July 27, 2017 at 6:47 AM · @Rob - I think that's why the pricing of this experience is going to be so high. Regular staff are not going to be able to work in this hotel. Everyone (even if they were part of regular Mouskeeping or other back of house staff), would need special training to work in this hotel, warranting higher wages, supported by the higher per night costs to guests.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Email Newsletter

Rate & Review

Walt Disney World

Universal Orlando

Disneyland

Tokyo Disney Resort

2017 Best Park Winners

Get Our Newsletter

Email

Plan Your Vacation


© Theme Park Insider®   About · Rules · Privacy · Contact
Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Theme Park Insider T-shirts and Hoodies Email Newsletter