Walt Disney World's Star Wars Hotel Opens Next Spring

July 30, 2021, 12:08 PM · Walt Disney World's Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open in spring of 2022, Disney announced today.

The so-called Star Wars hotel is actually a two-day, two-night interactive experience - a virtual cruise through space, if you will. Guests will be invited to assume roles as heroes or villains in a Star Wars-themed adventure aboard the Halcyon starcruiser on their journey to and from a "port call" on Batuu - the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land in Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. On-board activities even will include lightsaber training.

In reality, guests will be staying in a very stationary new hotel building just behind Hollywood Studios - one that is equipped with state-of-the-art animated "windows" and other production design effects to simulate a luxury spaceship. Want more detail? Several Walt Disney Imagineers gathered to talk about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience, in a new video.

In the video, we get our first look at some of the new food that will be served aboard the Halcyon, along with confirmation that there will be a dinner show with musical entertainment the first night. Full guest cosplay will be allowed aboard the ship, as well.

The lightsaber training experience also will include an opportunity for guests to feel "Force awareness" as their lightsaber anticipates training blasts. And while on board the Halcyon, guests will discover extra details that will add background and context to locations around Galaxy Edge's Black Spire Outpost, including additional information about that coaxium-stealing mission aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

"You can really choose to be as casual about this as you want or dive as deeply as you want to," Wendy Anderson, Executive Creative Director, Disney Live Entertainment, said.

"You don't have to know everything about the canon in order for it to work and be fun," WDI Executive Producer & Creative Director Ann Morrow Johnson said. "If you want to take a step back and watch it happen, it should be a really great piece of immersive theater to watch."

Though we now have an opening season for the new resort (sometime between mid-March and mid-June), Disney is not yet taking reservations for what is expected to be a very premium-priced experience.

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Replies (11)

July 30, 2021 at 12:12 PM

Let the space madness begin!

July 30, 2021 at 12:30 PM

Say what you will about Disney pricing out normal people, but you have to give it to them for truly going for it and trying to take things to the next level.

If I win the lottery, I'm there.

July 30, 2021 at 1:06 PM

Some very interesting details and discussion about what the experience will be like. However, what concerns me is that the pricing of this experience will be so cost-prohibitive to the average guest that 80-90% of the guests doing this are going to be super fans. The problem with that is that it sounds like Disney is counting on a certain percentage of the guests will be willing to take a back seat and just be observers, so if an overwhelming number of guests at any given time want to be in full cosplay, will the experience be able to handle it?

I also wonder if like a typical cruise that guests are assigned specific times to attend certain activities that eliminate the organic nature of the experience. The Imagineers talk about getting a chance to see the bridge and learn about the controls (and blasters), so inevitably "something will go wrong" during that bridge tour a dozen or more times for groups of the ship's passengers in similar ways. While they talk about the stories being your own, they still have to be bounded within the capabilities of the experience, talent, and desires of the other passengers on board. If you're one of the last people to board for the day, and all of the scoundrel or First Order assignments/costumes have been taken, will they make room for your choice, or force you into a role you didn't really want, just like those who get relegated to the role of engineer on MFSR? Also, if this is a 2-day/night adventure, does that mean the Halcyon refreshes itself and stories every 2 days, or are they maintaining parallel stories as guests starting their voyage are interacting and mingling with other guests that have already been on board for a day (maybe some type of wrist band or other identification system will ensure CMs can tell who has already had the Day 1 experience and who is new to the ship)? It also sounds like guests will be back-doored onto MFSR and RotR, and will not be allowed to explore the parks and attractions beyond Batuu. I'm also concerned about these stories that you will get to play out and how they will work, because Imagineers have promised these types of things before with PtWoA and Galaxy's Edge yet have significantly underdelivered. Disney cannot underdeliver when guests are spending a fortune for a 2-day, fully immersive, cosplay adventure.

It's going to be really important of Disney to get this right, and get solid word of mouth from the first batches of guests, because when you consider the rumored cost for this experience, they cannot afford any hiccups or negative critiques when guests are paying upwards of $2,000/person/night to board. While there are tons of people that sound extremely excited to spend whatever it takes to book this experience, will that sentiment last after all of the inevitable flaws and limitations are exposed?

July 30, 2021 at 1:43 PM

There are many luxury, premium cruise lines that deal with exactly this sort of 'expectation level' every single day. And they manage to deliver that same premium experience to every single guest. Since this is effectively a super-premium cruise experience (just it happens to be set in space) I am 100% certain Disney have understood their market and watched and learnt how these super premium cruise companies deliver superlative personalised experiences day in day out....

July 30, 2021 at 2:24 PM

I'm curious how they will scale the experience to the amount of guests in the ship. I'm a fan of immersive/interactive theater, but generally the better ones are those that have small group sizes where everyone will directly impact the scenes. It would be awful to pay that amount of money to be pushed to the sidelines of these key story beats. Universal did a great immersive experience years ago with The Repository at HHN 26.

I also wonder what kind of legs this hotel experience will have. I have to assume the first wave of guests, discounting the bloggers and reporters, will be Disney/Star Wars super fans. After that, how do you convince people who enjoy the IP, but aren't the biggest fans, to drop a lot of money on functionally a cruise to nowhere.

July 30, 2021 at 2:47 PM

I'm sure they've done their homework David, but I think this is a completely different animal. While luxury cruises (the number of times they mentioned "luxury" during this video should give us a sense that prices are going to be even higher than anyone expects) manage to deliver to their demanding audiences, those audiences may not be nearly as demanding as the ones embarking the Halcyon. Remember, this experience is going to predominantly attract guests emptying their bank accounts for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is going to raise the bar even higher than luxury cruises with audiences of rich muckity-mucks that have high standards, but see a cruise fare as just a drop in the bucket in their sea of wealth. Star Wars and Disney fans will be spending life savings and pennies from under the couch just to get a sniff of this experience, and will want it to pay off 1000 fold, and won't accept anything short of perfection.

The conundrum here is that the higher the price point is to try to limit the audience, the higher the expectations will be from those that can have enough equity in their home for a second mortgage and available earnings in their 401k's to afford this. I applaud Disney for trying to take on this challenge of delivering a completely immersive role playing experience, but I'm concerned that it simply won't meet the high expectations created by its inevitably high price point. Disney has touted increasingly immersive experiences before with PtWoA, Galaxy's Edge DataPad, and others, and has yet to deliver what they have advertised. Now they're literally going to charge guests an arm and a leg to be immersed for 2 days when they haven't demonstrated they are able to maintain other immersive experiences for more than an hour. If Galaxy's Edge had actually given guests the promised level of immersion, I wouldn't be so skeptical, but it just hasn't lived up to what Immagineers advertised, and I fear that the Halcyon will need some seriously solid word of mouth to be considered a success.

As far as the repeatability, I don't think Disney will run out of willing customers for the Halcyon anytime soon so long as it doesn't suffer from bad publicity. Additionally, the ability to play different characters as part of your voyage will create return business as well as likely script tweaks that will undoubtedly happen as Disney refines the experience and makes modifications/additions to get previous guests to make a return visit.

I also don't think bloggers and journalists will get a chance to stay here unless they're paying for it out of their own pocket. I'm guessing they'll do some sort of media day to allow press to walk around and see the inside and all the possibilities (ride the transport to Batuu and tour the ship's public spaces), but as far as actually taking a "voyage" on the Halcyon, that will almost certainly be limited to paying guests only.

July 30, 2021 at 2:34 PM

Yeah this looks really exciting. It may be the first of a few of these kinds of immersive experiences centered around an IP. I am excited to see it when it opens.

July 30, 2021 at 4:28 PM

I think Russell your prejudice against cruising betrays you! Luxury cruises aren’t full of rich ‘muckity mucks’ on the whole but get an awful lot of relatively ordinary people who scrimp and save in order to do something ‘a bit special’ for once in their lives. And even those super-wealthy ones tend to demand super- perfect experiences so I think that whilst this Star Wars ‘hotel’ will attract a proportion of Uber-geeks for whom nothing will ever match expectation, the experience of luxury-focussed companies worldwide will inform Disney’s delivery and focus their minds very much on ensuring every guest gets ‘value’ for their money. But the proof will come in the actual experience…

July 30, 2021 at 5:23 PM

The pricing structure of the Grand Californian--with the cheapest, bare bones room starting at $750, and the high end going to "call for rates," haha, shows that it's impossible to Disney to ratchet prices too high. That especially true given the wild rise of the upper 1% in our society. Put simply, they could charge $10K per passenger per "trip" and it will be sold out for as long as they want to extend reservations. For many people, $10K is no more than an ATM fee.

And if this works, they'll build a gold-plated one right next to it that costs even more.

August 1, 2021 at 4:54 PM

I am a massive Star Wars fan. I could tell you the number over the door to the trash compactor and recite the opening lines of all the films. That being said, this hotel thing is a hard pass for me. It sounds super dumb. Of course, if it your cup of tea and you enjoy it, then have fun; however, I have two points. On one level, I don’t want to play dress up and come to Orlando and limit my trip for two days. That is objection one. The second problem is that there are many super Star Wars fans that I think probably would love to do this, and it sounds a little like extortion if the cost is as high as people are predicting. Certainly, nobody is forcing anyone to spend their money, but is just seems a little off to me. Honestly, I enjoy the basic Disney trip too much and would rather eat at the Crystal Palace, ride the Haunted Mansion and Pirates, and not fool with that mess.

August 2, 2021 at 11:00 AM

I have absolutely nothing against cruises David. They're not my preferred vacation option, but my parents are very frequent cruisers (were actually on a ship in South America when COVID started sweeping the globe), and have sailed numerous lines throughout the world including luxury lines. While luxury cruise guests have high expectations because of the high cost, cruise lines can smooth over issues and rough spots with extras, comps, and elevated status (my parents have had the same cruise cancelled 2 years running now, and the line continues to offer upgrades, additional onboard credit, and other perks for them to keep their reservation in place for what will now be a 2022 sailing).

While the Halcyon is being billed as a cruise ship, and it sounds like the experience will be similar to that of a cruise, compensating guests for problems, issues, and failure of the experience to live up to expectations is not as simple as a standard cruise. First, the experience on the Halcyon is only 2 days long, so Disney does not have a lot of time to fix problems guests may have, and seemingly minor things may not be worth guests mentioning but will still degrade their overall experience. Second, for a majority of guests, a trip on the Halcyon is almost certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so the comps typically offered by cruise lines to disappointed guests of discounts, upgrades, and freebies on a future booking are worthless to a guest who is unlikely to ever book another visit because of the cost and nature of the experience.

That means Disney has one shot to impress guests over just 48 hours to spread enough word of mouth to get future guests to keep staterooms full. While I have no doubt there will be a huge surge of initial interest regardless of the price point, I predict that there is a large group of interested guests who really want to buy into this experience and have the resources to afford it, but want to know if it's worth it or not. Those first reviews of the experience from real guests (not media just walking through and being fed propaganda) will determine whether Disney can pull this off or not. Disney can probably survive for a few months on "blind faith" from the hardest core fans and deep pocketed guests with money to burn, but at some point this experience has to meet or exceed expectation more than anything Disney has attempted to sell before.

As far as this taking away from a theme park vacation as JC is noting, I don't think that's an issue here. It sounds like the experience aboard the Halcyon will be completely self contained within the Star Wars/Galaxy's Edge universe, and will not allow guests to venture beyond Batuu or even out the front door of the hotel. That means if you're planning a week-long trip to WDW, 2 of the 7 days will be completely consumed by your experience on the Halcyon and would need 5 days of theme park admission (or other plans) to fill the rest of the week. Your time on the Halcyon will be Star Wars 24/7, and specific itineraries devoted to the experience will prohibit you from exploring the rest of the parks. I'm not sure how Disney will specifically accomplish this, but I think the expectation should be that your 2 days on the Halcyon is a completely different and additional experience to a traditional theme park vacation. The experience aboard the Halcyon sounds very much like the Star Wars theme park many anticipated when Disney bought Lucas Film, it's just that Disney has struck a compromise by bridging the Star Wars theme park concept by using a dedicated land everyone can visit along with an excusive Star Wars only experience supplementing Galaxy's Edge for the truly hard core and deep pocketed fans.

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