The most unique aspect of the Galactic Starcruiser experience is that guests can get immersed fully in the Star Wars universe and are given the latitude to cosplay in an intimate environment alongside seasoned actors and performers.
This article will describe the characters guests will meet while on the Halcyon and will reveal critical points of the overarching plot aboard the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, so be warned... SPOILER ALERT!
The setting of the Galactic Starcruiser experience corresponds to what guests find on Batuu in nearby Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge which is chronologically between the events of Episode 8 (The Last Jedi) and Episode 9 (The Rise of Skywalker). Walt Disney World’s Star Wars land already highlights many lesser-known characters within the Star Wars Universe like Hondo Onaka, Lieutenant Beck, and Vi Moradi while also using more familiar characters from the movies like Chewbacca, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, General Hux, Lieutenant Beck, Nien Nunb, Poe Dameron, and Yoda. Some of those familiar characters from Galaxy’s Edge make their way aboard the Halcyon including Rey, Chewie, Kylo Ren, and Yoda, while Hondo and Poe may be seen on screens if their more peripheral roles in the events on the Halcyon intersect with your stories.
However, there are a whole host of new characters aboard the Halcyon that will be completely new to even the most hardcore fans, who are constantly interacting with guests and leading you through the stories that are playing out in real time. Some of these characters have very straight-forward back stories and traits, while others are more complicated and layered. Each character is played by a seasoned performer using scripted and improvised dialogue while interacting with guests or acting out scenes and vignettes. Performers are also equipped with microphones that connect to integrated speaker systems throughout the ship to allow guests to hear the characters in larger or more crowded spaces.
Characters are also wearing earpieces, which I would assume provide a way for stage directors to provide dialogue and blocking cues along with passenger information to make interactions more personal. While there are probably only 250-400 guests on the ship at any given time, that’s still a lot of names to remember, and the live character interactions also need to be synchronized with the activities and tasks guests have completed within the Datapad to provide the most immersive and seamless experience. Also, for those who remember Adventurer’s Club at Downtown Disney, guests are likely to end up with some characters more than others depending upon the decisions they make during their adventure, but in the end the choice is yours as to how you want to engage with the characters and stories playing out on the Galactic Starcruiser.
Captain Riyola Keevan is a Pantoran, and is responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone on the Halcyon. She is a strong character who knows what tone to strike at any given time. We did not have many personal interactions with the Captain – it appeared that her interactions were more personal within the groups that included younger children. She is the mother figure of the voyage and will take swift and decisive action when her crew or passengers are threatened. A lot of early criticism of the Galactic Starcruiser experience has focused on the look and styling of this character. In person and up close, the character makeup and costuming are very impressive, and far beyond a dark blue faced human seen in early promotional videos.
Cruise Director Lenka Mok is in charge of on-board entertainment. She is essentially the ship’s first officer and follows Captain Keevan’s lead. Lenka is actively working to coordinate guests to complete tasks on Batuu in support of the Resistance, in addition to making sure everyone is having a good time. While Keevan acts compliant when the First Order boards the ship, Lenka is obviously unhappy with the intrusion, and works covertly to undermine the First Order occupation. We did not have a lot of personal interactions with Lenka, but we did perform a number of tasks for her through the Datapad on the ship and also on Batuu.
SK-620 is an R2-style droid who rolls around the ship acting as the assistant cruise director. As with many Star Wars stories, droids play a critical role in the action. When the First Order boards the Halcyon, SK is placed in restraining bolts while they attempt to extract potential secret resistance plans and data. It was very impressive to see SK roam the main floor of the atrium alongside guests without bumping into anything or anyone. It was unclear whether the droid was being controlled remotely or truly autonomous, but even if SK was under human control, the interactions with between passengers, crew and the droid were very convincing and on point.
Sammie is the ship’s mechanic, who was just recently hired for the position aboard the Halcyon. Sammie is a very layered and complex character whose arc takes many twists and turns. Many of the primary plot points during the experience pivot around Sammie’s decisions and loyalties. Sammie’s character is probably the most approachable to the widest audience, and we found ourselves involved in many interactions with this character. He is often hesitant and unsure, which adds mystery to his character and interactions. There is even an easter egg regarding Sammie in Oga’s Cantina- a sign written in Aurebesh advertises for a mechanic for the Halcyon, who must speak Shyriiwook, the Wookie language.
Gaya is a Twi’lek, and the featured entertainer for the first evening’s dinner performance. The actor portraying Gaya on our voyage was an incredibly talented singer. Most of the original songs Gaya performs were explicitly created for the Galactic Starcruiser and contain many hidden messages that reveal her motivations and background, but her song Oola Shuka has been on the soundtrack in Oga’s Cantina since the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. Gaya is a classic diva who craves the spotlight and will always make sure she is the center of attention, and these traits constantly play out as she roams the ship.
Raithe Kole is Gaya’s manager and is a bit of a scoundrel to make sure he keeps his client happy. Raithe is a character we interacted with frequently during our adventure, especially Zach, who was drawn to Raithe’s love of playing Sabacc. The character of Raithe also intersects many other storylines onboard the Galactic Starcruiser that can be used to jump between different plots and characters. Raithe is a convincing analog to Han Solo in this story as he typically has good intentions with his actions but will rarely allow his own personal desires and motivations to be ignored when making decisions.
Ouannii (pronounced wan-ee) is a Rodian, the same species as Greedo. She is a musician and is Gaya’s accompanist. Ouannii speaks Huttese, which is difficult at first to understand when interacting with her. However, it doesn’t take long for guests to start figuring out what she is saying in the context of conversations and body language. Her character design is by far the most “alien” of all the character aboard the Halcyon, and the special effects used to change her facial expressions and speech are amazing even when you are up close and personal with her. A first glance at Ouannii and you will be instantly convinced you are in the world of Star Wars. I particularly thought the ability of this character design to hold up after closer inspection was one of the most amazing aspects of the Galactic Starcruiser. Ouannii’s storyline is more peripheral to the major storylines playing out aboard the ship, but her character arc adds a layer of believability to the overall experience.
Sandro Alimander is a Togrulan musician, who is on board the Halcyon to catch a glimpse of his favorite musical superstar, Gaya. Sandro is predominantly found in the Atrium strumming his guitar, and slowly becomes infatuated with Ouannii. The relationship between Sandro and Ouannii was one of the most satisfying yet subtle storylines of the entire experience. While the love story between the two is direct and linear, it was fun and enjoyable to see the characters literally make music together, ultimately performing their new composition together during Day 2’s dessert party. Call me a sap if you want, but as someone who’s musically inclined, I was drawn to this story of the two improvising song lyrics and melodies together even though it was not thrust upon me by the Datapad.
The Saja are guardians of the knowledge and teachings of The Force. There are a number of Saja on board, and for those theater buffs out there, these actors would be considered part of the background ensemble or perhaps swing roles. The Saja are onboard to protect and teach the ways of the Force. While the Saja are not Jedi, they can sense The Force in others and help them to make their own connection to the mystical power. The Saja are the ones who will lead your Lightsaber Training and are also seen roaming around the ship in the shadows. Since we did not have our Lightsaber Training until the afternoon of Day 2, our interactions with these characters were more limited. We did observe the Saja moving around the ship with other lead characters on Day 1, but they were playing a more passive role and acting as guests’ connection to those storylines if they had already interacted with the Saja earlier in the voyage.
If you’re on the Galactic Starcruiser, you almost certainly know who Chewbacca is. When he makes his way aboard the Halcyon, his appearances around the ship draw the most attention. Guests who follow Sammie’s character are bound to come face to face with the Wookie at some point during Day 1, and Chewie plays an integral role in the grand finale on Day 2.
Like Chewie, Rey is another well-known character from the movies, but her boarding of the Halcyon on Day 2 is a bit more subtle. We managed to catch her when she first boarded the ship as well as a scene in the Lightsaber Training Pod where she reveals what has brought her to the Halcyon. While Leia will always be the OG Disney Princess in the Star Wars Universe, it’s clear that Rey has a clear connection with young girls as we observed during her boarding scene.
Kylo Ren is another familiar character who makes an impressive appearance, but not until the Day 2 grand finale. Unfortunately, guests do not interact directly with the Supreme Leader of the First Order as his role in the Halcyon’s story is to be the “Big Baddie” representing the imminent threat that must be dealt with in the story’s final act.
Instead of interacting with Kylo Ren, guests with more of a dark side can follow the stories of First Order Lieutenant Harman Croy. Lt. Croy is the guests’ link to and personification of the First Order, and fans of bad guys will find him extremely appealing, brooding British accent and all.
However, Croy does appear to have a bit of an eye for Gaya, whether he’s being mesmerized by her features and voice or if his intentions are true was unclear to us. I had initially intended to try to stick with a First Order storylines, but I think my desire to try to also explore other storylines kept me from getting the full bad guy experience. I spoke to other passengers who had committed fully to this path, and they said it was very rewarding right down to some downright hilarious interactions with their cabin’s personal droid D3-O9.
First Order Colonel Gav Talis is next in line behind General Hux (fans need to remember that Hux’s betrayal of the First Order has not happened yet while we’re on Batuu and the Halcyon). Talis appears on screens on the bridge, and gives orders to Croy, but we never saw this character in person.
When the First Order boards the ship, Stormtroopers can also be seen roaming around various locations seemingly just missing Resistance characters thanks to crew and passenger distractions. While passengers see two Stormtroopers marching around the Halcyon on Day 1, their numbers double midway through Day 2 to indicate the intensification of the First Order threat.
Like a murder mystery dinner theater or Disney’s Adventurer’s Club, plot points and storylines are revealed to guests through the character driven journey. The talents on display throughout our voyage were impeccable, and the improvisational skills of the performers were incredible. The ability to simultaneously interact and connect with guests approaching these stories from different backgrounds, experiences, and feelings towards the Star Wars Universe takes some serious acting chops, and their efforts should not go unnoticed.
Here is Cory Rouse from Walt Disney Imagineering to talk about the characters on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World.
More Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Coverage:
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