What will it be like to stay at Disney's Star Wars 'hotel'?

August 27, 2019, 4:10 PM · Eager to stay at Walt Disney World’s Star Wars hotel? Well, the first step is to stop thinking of this as a hotel.

This won’t be another Disney resort, where you can roll up at any reserved time and date and stay as long as your bank account will allow. Disney’s Star Wars “hotel” is really more like a cruise vacation – you won’t be able to come and go as you please. Instead, everyone staying will board and debark at the same time, remaining aboard the “ship” for their stay.

That’s part of the reason why the word “hotel” appears nowhere in the name of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the upcoming cruise-like Star Wars experience at the Walt Disney World Resort. As revealed at the D23 Expo in Anaheim last weekend, the ship you’ll be spending your two-night, two-day excursion upon will be the Halcyon – the flagship of the Chandrila Star Line.

All concept art courtesy Disney

You will “board” the ship by checking in at the experience entrance, located next to the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Once checked in, you will enter a “shuttle” that will blast you to the Halcyon in space.

After this short trip, the shuttle doors will open with that signature Star Wars “swoosh,” and you and your group will find yourselves on the lobby of the Halcyon.

Halcyon lobby

All the windows in the hotel, including those in your room, er, cabin will look out into space. Once aboard, you will be served by an alien crew, dine on otherworldly food in the ship’s dining hall, and enjoy Star Wars-themed onboard activities, including a lightsaber drill with a training remote.

Lightsaber training

You also will be invited to tour the ship’s bridge and learn how to use its emergency defense weaponry… just in case a totally improbably space battle just were to happen to occur.

What possibly could go wrong?

The big news from today’s Walt Disney World Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge press event was that Galactic Starcruiser guests would board specially themed vehicles that will transport them to and from their “port day” on Batuu, inside Galaxy’s Edge.

These shuttles, for which Disney reps showed up an exterior concept and interior image that we were not allowed to photograph, will include the same “space windows” as on the Halcyon, allowing guests to travel between the “ship” and the “planet” without every leaving that story.

Disney Imagineers explained an onboard experience that sounds like a live-action role-playing experience, where guests are given opportunities to interact with the ship’s crew and other characters, with their actions influencing the direction of their story.

Depending upon whom you choose to befriend on the ship, you might be invited to secret meetings or taken to explore secret locations on the ship, which is not at all immune from the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance.

Still no word on an opening date, or official prices, for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Stay tuned.

Replies (21)

August 27, 2019 at 4:34 PM

I really want to get excited about this, and think that Disney is taking the right approach with applying Star Wars in their parks and resorts. However, a lot of the rhetoric spoken about the Halcyon is similar to what Imagineers used to describe the guest experience inside Galaxy’s Edge. Guests were supposed to live their own Star Wars story on Batuu, but that simply hasn’t happened yet, and the level of interaction with the land is nowhere near what was eluded to when Disnay announced the new land.

Is it a simple fact of economics that the level of interaction comes at a price, or is Disney similarly going to cut corners here? I really want to love this, but between the expected exorbitant prices to do this along with the past promises unkept, I have to temper my enthusiasm and take a wait and see approach.

August 27, 2019 at 4:53 PM

You're correct, Russell, and that's why I wonder if this will be a hit or a dud. The excitement for GE has been rather muted, with overwhelmingly mixed reviews (though that could all change when ROTR finally opens), and this project sounds just like GE. They keep talking about interactivity and role playing, but what about the in between stuff? In GE, you need to drop hundreds of dollars per person to get the whole experience (droids, sabers, food). If you don't partake, there's little to do. There's no street performers, no music, no rides for small children, no playgrounds, etc. If this "hotel" is similar, then what will families do if they opt out of upcharge events? Also, much like GE, once people have done it, will they want to return (especially when you consider the price)? I made a lightsaber and a droid (loved it, by the way), but I'll likely never do it again due to the cost (and I really don't want more sabers or droids). Similarly, after a few rides on Smuggler's Run, I was done with it. The land is beautiful but, even as a huge SW fan, I'm kind of done with it for awhile. If this hotel is anything like that, it could be hard to fill those rooms over time.

August 27, 2019 at 4:56 PM

Totally agree with Russell! This sounds very reminiscent of how Galaxy’s Edge was described and that land is void of any characters aside from Chewbacca and a grumpy Rey walking around. Plus, I’m sorry, there is no way I’m paying that much to sit inside a concrete box on my vacation with only an excursion to Batuu. Disney seems to be missing the mark wildly on Star Wars and what people want.

August 27, 2019 at 5:41 PM

Will guests staying aboard the Halcyon have access to the rest of DHS and WDW at-large? Or is the entire scope of their parks experience limited to GE, where, as discussed above, there really isn't all that much to do? Given the lofty pricing that will undoubtedly come with the opening of this experience, if the answer to the first question I asked is "no," I anticipate problems with demand. People visit WDW for a comprehensive entertainment experience... for access to everything the resort has to offer. Paying an absurd upcharge for a seemingly limited, albeit VERY cool experience just does not seem like it will have mass appeal. Now, if Disney hits a grand slam with this experience, which they definitely can, then that changes everything. Only time will tell.

August 27, 2019 at 8:07 PM

I have zero desire to stay at that hotel. For me hotels are respites or a sanctuary from the chaos and over stimulation of the parks. in fact, the less Disney at a hotel the better.

August 27, 2019 at 8:56 PM

I am confident the experience guests will be presented with for their all-inclusive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser stay will be immersive and unique. That said, I also know it certainly wouldn't appeal to me personally. My passion is theme parks, not "all things Star Wars" and the idea of being sequestered in an all Star Wars all the time role playing environment is way too much, especially when all the other temptations of being in Walt Disney World Resort are right there and not accessible until checking out of the Halcyon. Can't foresee too many guest parties where some will not be as into Star Wars as others and would want to enjoy other things. Presume many will have this as just a part of a larger, longer stay elsewhere on property. Wonder how many guests will be opting for this overall. Meanwhile, the entire industry is watching and studying how this expensive experiment plays out, including that other media company's neighboring theme park resort that has been known to be pondering a similar all-inclusive, immersive experience based on a certain "Wizarding World "- and figure the same issues would come into play there as well.

August 28, 2019 at 12:11 AM

The more I hear about this "hotel," the more I'm realizing something I'm surprised I didn't see long ago: This is not an experience aimed at typical Disney visitors. It is not aimed at those who visit for Disney, or those who visit for the parks, or those who visit for a vacation. This is for those who visit specifically for Star Wars, and it is intended to give them the most realistic Star Wars experience possible. Whether this will be successful or not I have no idea, but one thing is certain: This is a two-night, two-day attraction, and if you're paying for it you're paying specifically to participate in the attraction separate from whatever else you plan to do at Walt Disney World.

August 28, 2019 at 5:56 AM

This sounds like I will have to have a split stay trip. It sounds like fun but to do it as a single trip and not get to see the other parks is a waste of a trip. I love to see all the parks when we go, especially the night time shows.

August 28, 2019 at 8:03 AM

@Shaun - I don't think guests aboard the Halcyon will get "upcharge" events, or at least that's now how Disney is framing it. It sounds like the 2-day/2-night stay is all inclusive (like a traditional cruise), and while I'm sure Disney will find ways to extract even more money from guests while on board (additional accessories, drink package, fancier clothing/light saber, etc...), I think there will be a standard level of service and itinerary for guests that will fill their entire stay without the need to pay for additional up-charges (perhaps if you visit multiple times Disney might need to offer upcharges to make your 4th or 5th stay different).

On the topic of the "excursion to Batuu", I think there's a pretty clear explanation here. As a disclaimer, this is just how I think Disney will work it and not necessarily how it will be executed... It really sounds like guests will be confined to Galaxy's Edge during their "shore excursion" just like a real cruise that docks on an island. If guests are being allowed to role play on board the Halcyon, the expectation would be that they would also be allowed to role play on Batuu, meaning that they would be among the few guests permitted to be in full costume within a Disney park.

To keep these guests from infiltrating the entirety of WDW, those guests would have to be confined to Batuu, meaning that your park ticket for that day would ONLY include Galaxy's Edge, and attempts to depart into the rest of DHS (and other WDW parks beyond) would be met with a polite request to stay in Batuu. For those paying the rumored prices to be in this fully immersive world, they're probably fine staying inside this construct, but I'm sure there will be guests frustrated by these limits imposed on their vacation and may find this whole idea off-putting.

The other aspect of this "shore excursion" aspect that I think some are missing here is that these guests, presumably fully dressed in appropriate costumes, will be entering Galaxy's Edge and mixing with regular day guests (in addition to the reported exclusive time they get within the land when the park is closed). If the guests aboard the Halcyon take their role playing seriously, this may add the level of character and interactivity with regular Galaxy's Edge guests that Disney sought from day 1 without the need to pay actors. Essentially, the guests staying on the Halcyon would be like the "regulars" you might see at Quark's at the Star Trek Experience dressed in full costume. Most of those cosplayers weren't getting paid a dime by the Las Vegas Hilton, they were just there because they liked to cosplay, and the Star Trek Experience offered them the most detailed outlet for their hobby. It was a symbiotic relationship where both sides (along with non-costumed guests) benefited.

By creating this cosplay construct that bleeds over into the theme park, Disney now has the acting talent that they didn't want to pay, and the CMs needed to create the level of interactivity for Halcyon guests commensurate with the exorbitant rates they will be charged, can pull double duty within Galaxy's Edge during the "shore excursion", entertaining and interacting not just with Halcyon guests, but also regular park guests.

Again, I'm not sure if this is Disney's motive here, or even if the reported level of interactivity and role-playing on the Halcyon will be extended into Galaxy's Edge. It just seems like a logical step, and I can see the gears turning within the management types that only see costs versus profit.

I will also note that Galaxy's Edge isn't the only place where Disney has promised interactivity and failed to deliver what was advertised. PtWoA was promoted as a land where the flora would come alive as guests would walk through and a world that would interact to our mere presence. It's another immersive land that is devoid of characters (though on Pandora those characters are reasoned away by the setting - the Na'Vi have left). The result has been a giant plant that sprays water when you rub a special spot on its side, some trees that light up if you touch a certain growth on the trunk, and some lighting affects that initially appear to react to your steps, but are really just running a timed program. The luminescent plants that would glow with guest proximity are not there, and the ground that would light up with our every step has still not materialized, but the e-ticket ride (FoP) allows guests to look away as the attraction is so good that guests forget about all of the promises of interactivity and how mediocre the Avatar IP really is. Galaxy's Edge is not the first time where Disney has made grand promises of interactivity only to leave guests wondering where it's at, and I doubt it will be the last. The question is whether RotR will be good enough to get people to ignore or forget all of those promises.

August 28, 2019 at 8:06 AM

Honest Question: Do todays kids care about an experience like this?

I can see why some adults may think this is an amazing experience. But what about Kids? Do todays kids care about Star Wars as much as their parents want them to care?

When families go on cruises then they want a vacation with their family. BUT.... what many people enjoy most is that they can let their kids go on their own to kid specific areas and activities while the adults enjoy their own adult stuff.

Will that happen here? If the “experience” is so immersive and interactive then how much of it will be “relaxing”? And how many of these visit-critical missions will be a fun activity that the kids just dont feel like finishing because they would prefer to be at the space pool?

I guess I’m just growing more curious on whether or not Disney is aware of what todays Star Wars fan is looking for.

August 28, 2019 at 9:16 AM

I don't like Star Wars enough to care or want to pay to do this but even I have to admit that it looks pretty awesome. I would however jump at the chance to do this if someone else paid for me or if it was cheap enough but obviously that would be unrealistic.

I really hope that its a success for Disney since it might push Universal to "copy" them and try their hands at a fully immersive Harry Potter hotel. Plenty of room behind Escape from Gringotts if they move around some stuff. Or even better can you imagine if you could stay inside Dracula's castle at Epic Universe!!! If they built that I'd be like Fry with the Eyephone. "Shut up and take my money"....lol

August 28, 2019 at 9:55 AM

As I said in earlier post, plenty of industry eyes on the immersive, roleplaying narrative based Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experiment- and certainly those eyes include their Epic and Fantastic neighbors. Personally, wouldn't be into 2 nights of all Potterverse either as a guest nor of Star Wars, same reasoning- I would rather be free to leave the experience and visit other attractions. But that is part of what this is gauging: how many guests would pay more for an all inclusive, narrative based, immersive experience living within a simulated environment based on a specific intellectual property. The existing theme park fans who would rather experience the entire resort are already well catered to. Remember the Eisner-era Disney Institute resort experience at whatbhas morphed into Saratoga Springs? Turned out some guests staying everywhere on property were willing to pay for workshops and experiences there but many of their own families and friends didn't share their interest in being "institutionalized " ans eventually that became aimed at corporate groups and special events while the resort itself became just another "Home Away From Home" property at WDW. Note that a different version of this experiment is rising in the reimagining of Disneyland Paris Resort's Hotel New York, with a Marvel Super heroes theme, but without keeping those guests exclusively in that narrative environment for 2 nights yet still high degree of immersion with way more freedom to play elsewhere. If that model proves more successful, could become the template for how to package this kind of experience for Disney and Universal and Merlin and everyone else. For now, think of this as more like Westworld with live Cast rather than kinky killer robots... Me, I will keep playing in the entire theme park resort and watch how both these experiments play out on both sides of the Atlantic!

August 28, 2019 at 11:31 AM

I think the mistake a lot of folks are making is assuming this is meant to appeal to all Disney vacationers or theme park enthusiasts. It's not. It's for Star Wars fans and fanatics. Have any of you been to a Celebration? The Jedi Master (VIP) tickets are nearly a grand a piece, go on sale in the middle of the night, and sell out in minutes. Fans there sleep on the convention center floors or outside overnight for the prime panels. Star Wars fanatics - and there are tons of them- will pay thousands for this and sell out the reservations months, or longer in advance. If Disney was looking to target their average guests, they would be building a lot more rooms in this experience than what I've seen listed. If you are going to pay what might be thousands of dollars for a Star Wars 2 day experience, I can't see Star Wars fans complaining that they didn't get to ride Dumbo during it. I'm sure Disney will make it very easy to transfer to/from one of their other hotels if you want the rest of a Disney vacation. If its supposed to be like a cruise ship vacation, Disney is the best in the business there and knows how to offer different entertainment offerings to different age groups and allow families to split up if they want. I'm sure this will be amazing and not the last of these types of hotel experiences we see.

August 28, 2019 at 11:46 AM

AJ and Russell have described this best: This is a CRUISE that isn't on the ocean. This is for the diehard Star Wars fan, not someone who is going to visit Disneyworld. I liken this to an extended dessert party: people who visit Disneyworld usually don't do the extra upcharge events the first visit, but look for something different on subsequent visits. This is like an upcharge even that last two days!

Russell brings up a great point that, in the future, this is where Disney is going to get the added interactivity, and they will have people paying them to do it! As small as the hotel...er...CRUISER is supposed to be, they can have small groups on their port excursion to Batuu, and it will be easier for the paid cast members to keep people in character.

I do expect the port day will be limited to just Batuu. If you are visiting in character and dressing the part, it will be easier for the cast members to keep the Cruiser visitors corralled in Batuu.

I wonder if the plan is for guests to the Cruiser to get a few perks in Batuu. Maybe fastpasses to both Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance. Possibly guaranteed seating at Oga’s Cantina. I would doubt the price of drinks, a droid, or a lightsaber would be included in the cost of staying at the Cruiser.

I really don't think the younger set is going to care for this, and quite frankly, I wouldn't take my 10 year old daughter to this. This is for ME to enjoy, not my daughter who is a casual fan. I know that sounds selfish, but for the price I expect to be paying for this, me, as the diehard fan, will be the one that will want to enjoy it the most.

August 28, 2019 at 12:37 PM

So the guests on this luxury space cruise are the same ultra rich clientele seen in The Last Jedi, the people in the casino who get rich selling arms to both the Resistance and the First Order, am I getting that right?

August 28, 2019 at 12:44 PM

There is simply no way this will be affordable for a middle class family. If this turns out anywhere close to how Disney has hyped it, it will be 1000 a night, if not more.

August 28, 2019 at 1:20 PM

Who said this is being marketed to the "middle class family"? Sure, we peasants can drool over the immersive experience and everything else associated with it, but what makes you think Disney will bat an eyelash if the people who keep the occupancy near 100% are all millionaires? There are plenty of people who pony up $1k+ a night for current accommodations on Disney property that don't offer near the level of immersion this is reported to contain. If the Grand Floridian and Grand Californian are booked solid virtually every day of the year, what makes you think Disney can't keep the Halcyon full with similar pricing (but more perks)? Also, you see Plaid Vests everywhere nowadays - who do you think is paying for those VIP tours that cost thousands of dollars a day? Trust me, there are plenty of people who have the financial means to afford this experience, and you better believe that the hard core Star Wars fans will scrape up whatever it costs to take a trip on the Halcyon.

This notion of Disney's obligation to the middle class needs to be reconsidered. The Walt Disney Company is a business first and foremost. Their goal is to make as much money as possible while fulfilling their ethical obligations as a business. However, none of that requires them to keep prices in check just so blue collar workers can afford a WDW vacation every year. As was shown in their recent financial reports, Disney achieved near record revenues in the parks despite the notable downturn in attendance. That means the guests that did show up paid more to do so, and spent more when they were in the parks. I would argue that the increase in admission costs and more restrictive AP rules have done exactly what Disney wanted. They're still making money at an obscene rate while ensuring the parks are not overcrowded to allow for future growth and so guests can feel like they're able to see everything they want for the higher price. As someone who paid those higher admission costs (even using a discount ticket provider, we paid almost $1,000 for 3-day park to park passes for DL/DCA plus another $135 for Max pass on top of that), I welcomed the more manageable crowds (though there were still some pretty long lines and tight crowds at times), and would again pay these increased admissions if it meant the parks were not as crowded.

I'm with you Twobits. My wife and son are not nearly the Star Wars fans that I am, so I wonder if taking them on the Halcyon would be as big of a deal to them as it is for me. It's definitely going to cause an interesting dilemma, especially if Disney expects every person boarding the Star Cruiser to be gung ho about cosplaying for 2 days. The rooms sound like they're designed for at least double occupancy (more like quad with 2 parents and 2 kids), so I wonder if the cost is even higher if you just want to do it by yourself - and if you do go it alone, what does the rest of your family do while your living your Star Wars story for 48 hours?

August 28, 2019 at 1:52 PM

This is going to be like Bibbidi Bobbodi boutique but for hard core Star Wars fans instead of young Disney princess fans (or parents that want the Instagram picture!).
Disney are increasingly realising that they can make more money creating unique exorbitantly priced experiences that a subset of the fan base will pay practically anything for than catering to the masses.
Whether you like it or not it’s here to stay.

August 28, 2019 at 3:20 PM

Exactly, UKCoasterman and Russell. Disney has been shifting their customer base toward the upper middle class and upper class for years. Look no further to evidence of this when looking at their new restaurant menus and hotel accommodations. They are building resorts more similar to the Floridan. You don't see plans for them to build another All-Star resort. Their food choices are presented well, and according to Ruby Payne in her book, "A Framework for Poverty", the presentation of food is what is most important to the upper class.

They can continue to raise prices at the expense of lower attendance because, as was reported at their last quarterly earnings, attendance was down 3% but profits were up because spending of their guests increased by 10%.

At a certain point they will find a ticket price that will be too high and profits will decline. But they haven't found that point yet.

August 28, 2019 at 2:50 PM

One assumes the "immersive experience" will be a 2 day rinse, then repeat, so the likelihood of many people doing this twice, I'm guessing, would be pretty remote. Especially at the prices being rumoured by some blogs. Although Disney must have considered this scenario, and already be working on Starship Cruiser II ?

We also have to consider how the multi-cultural interaction, that will undoubtedly take place at WDW, will work as well. Despite all the publicity surrounding the hotel and what goes on for those 2 days, there will be so many people arriving who have no clue what they are walking into. Although whether or not you can 'opt-out' of the immersiveness of the the whole thing, has yet to be mentioned.

Lots of new reveals and clarification to come, that's for sure

August 29, 2019 at 3:25 PM

I don't have research data (I am sure UO does), but I was mildly surprised as waves of kids rushed past me in Potter stuff when going into IOA and USO in the morning. I heard them yell and squeal about all things potter. I saw parents happy that there kids were happy - and maybe sharing some of the wonder, since they may have watched some or all the movies. My kids even bought the wands and I had hours of fun watching them trying to use them. Not sure my smile and sense of wonder would have lasted two days... And, will the kids really love seeing Mom and Dad "get into" role playing...

Also agree that I will pay $1000 per night for a really cool (yet minimally restricted) hotel connected to the Monsters or Fantastic Beast Worlds. Interestingly, I would mostly want to watch the Worlds through window/terrace - not fake windows.

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