The crash-and-burn launch of the Star Wars hotel will ultimately go down in the history books as a failure, but the bold, ambitious and audacious concept will help shape Disney’s immersive hotel, theme park and cruise ship experiences for decades to come.
Disney announced this week that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel that opened just over a year ago at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida will be closing in September.
“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is one of our most creative projects ever and has been praised by our guests and recognized for setting a new bar for innovation and immersive entertainment,” according to a statement released by Disney. “This premium experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms and we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our guests and fans.”
The “galactic cruise” invites costumed passengers to hatch plots against the First Order, fall in with a band of underworld smugglers and sip space cocktails for as long as they can suspend disbelief and buy into the interstellar cosplay theater of what’s been billed as the “most immersive Star Wars experience ever created.”
What went wrong? And what can Disney learn from this epic failure? Let’s take a closer look at seven reasons why Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel failed.
1) A revolutionary idea ahead of its time
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was a really big and innovative idea — at least as it was envisioned in the 1.0 version of the concept. Probably too big. And certainly way ahead of its time.
The Galactic Starcruiser combined two familiar ideas — each with a novel twist.
The first idea was the notion of a three-day cruise ship voyage. The twist? Your cruise ship was a Star Wars spaceship. Disney went to great lengths to get guests to buy into the storytelling concept that this otherwise ordinary 100-room Florida hotel was actually a cruise ship traveling through space.
The second idea was an immersive theater experience where the audience was part of the show and played a role in how the story unfolded. The twist? The show played out continuously during your 3-day, 2-night hotel stay.
Either one of those big ideas would have been daunting to introduce to a mass audience of theme park tourists. Combining the two together was more than most people could fathom — especially while they were supposed to be on vacation.
2) All inclusive vs. a la carte
The big problem with the cruise-ship-anchored-in-port concept is that you force hotel guests to pay up front for an all-inclusive experience. Everything is included in your stay — room, dinner, drinks, attractions, shows, atmospheric entertainment and theme park excursions.
Even though all the headlines said Disney’s Star Wars hotel is “closing” that’s not really the case. Disney will reimagine the hotel and come up with a simpler concept that will likely maintain a Star Wars theme.
Step one will almost certainly be to unbundle the all-inclusive cruise-like experiences and let hotel guests pick and choose from an a la carte menu of exclusive offerings. You don’t need lightsaber training but really want to see the dinner show? No problem.
Eventually, Disney may even offer a 3-day, 2-night cruise experience again — just not every day of the year.
3) One size fits all is not for everybody
An immersive theater experience can be a lot to handle — particularly if you’re new to the idea. It can be especially exhausting if the experience lasts throughout your entire hotel stay.
If you’ve ever been to a Renaissance Fair or Colonial Williamsburg, then you get the general idea of immersive theater. The show unfolds all around you all the time. That might be OK for some people in small doses. But the Galactic Starcruiser experience lasts for 45 hours.
The challenge for Walt Disney Imagineering with the 2.0 version of the Star Wars hotel will be balancing show times with down times. And figuring out where and when the shows will happen — and how to let hotel guests know when the shows begin and give them the option to opt out if that’s what they prefer.
4) An escape room with no escape
The idea of the Galactic Starcruiser experience was that you checked in for your voyage at Disney World and were whisked away to outer space for your Star Wars adventure — and you didn’t return until it was time to depart the spaceship and return to Disney World.
In between, you were mostly confined to the Galactic Starcruiser. Put another way, you never left the hotel — except for a brief excursion to Batuu, the intergalactic setting for the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You could certainly leave the hotel. It wasn’t a prison. But why would you ever leave after paying for the full experience?
On a cruise ship, you’d never jump overboard in between ports — even if you were bored out of your mind. But the Galactic Starcruiser experience really wasn’t set up for you to come and go as you please — even if it turns out you’re really not that into Star Wars after all and just want to get out of the hotel for a few hours.
Getting rid of the cruise ship concept will allow future Star Wars hotel guests the freedom to return to Earth whenever they want.
5) Two niche groups with little overlap
Disney was appealing to two distinct groups that don’t necessarily overlap much on your classic Venn diagram.
The first group is the Disney World one-percenters who have money to burn and price is no object. The second group is the Star Wars one-percenters who think a 45-hour immersive experience in a galaxy far, far away sounds like a dream vacation.
Lowering the bar for entry on both fronts will open up Star Wars hotel 2.0 to a broader audience who may not be as financially well-heeled or deeply invested in the epic storytelling.
6) High costs and high prices
No conversation about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser would be complete without discussing the out-of-this-world price tag.
The 3-day, 2-night experience costs anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.
Disney positioned the hotel as a premium experience — but some of the costs were related to the sheer amount of labor involved in pulling off the audacious concept. There were actors, entertainers and characters around every corner and everywhere you looked. And not just for a 30-minute show, but throughout the entire 3-day, 2-night experience.
Trimming back the amount of entertainment and frequency should allow Disney to lower the price and allow more people to step inside the Star Wars hotel and experience the intergalactic adventure. A watered-down version of the Galactic Starcruiser will still be wildly appealing to the legions of Star Wars fans.
7) A failure narrative set in
The biggest problem for Disney after the initial buzz for the Galactic Starcruiser waned was that the vultures began circling waiting for the inevitable death of the grand experiment.
It is a uniquely American tradition to build things up beyond expectations and then tear them down at the first whiff of failure.
Disney had to know things were going south quickly. You don’t close a hotel after little more than a year unless you can see the writing on the wall.
The swift closure also allows returning Disney CEO Bob Iger to hang the Star Wars hotel failure like an albatross around the neck of fired Disney CEO Bob Chapek. During his short tenure, Chapek continually played the villain and likely will never get credit for the eventual innovations that come from the Galactic Starcruiser experiment.
Years and decades from now, Imagineering will talk about the lessons learned and ideas incorporated in future hotels, attractions, shows and experiences that had their origins in the Galactic Starcruiser. But it’s too soon for that right now.
There are two things Disney looks at above all else when it comes to any experience — whether it’s a hotel, theme park or cruise ship. The first is intent to return. Would you do it again? The second is word of mouth. Would you tell a friend?
Those two trend lines had to be going in the wrong direction for Disney to pull the plug so quickly on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The knock on the experience was it was deluxe but not luxe — it wasn’t luxurious enough to justify the sky high price tag. And the buzz that first greeted the innovative hotel concept had turned to a death watch as occupancy levels steadily decreased and Disney started discounting.
What’s next for Disney’s Star Wars hotel? Walt Disney Imagineering will develop a new concept that is a little more inclusive and bit less exclusive — turning what was envisioned as a Club 33-like VIP experience for the elite and rich into a five-star Star Wars hotel geared toward hardcore fans who can’t get enough of the epic space opera.
Why is Disney shutting down the Star Wars hotel? ›
Late last year, reports suggested that the hotel was struggling with falling demand and was seeing occupancy rates of as little as 25 percent. In March, it emerged that Disney was cutting back bookings .How long can you stay in the Star Wars hotel? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a highly-hyped new hotel offering 2-night experiences at Walt Disney World. The themed resort behind Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios is now open, and this guide covers everything you need to know–including pricing, 2023 reservation info, what's included, and more!How many rooms will the Star Wars hotel have? ›
How Many Rooms are there in the Star Wars Hotel? There are 100 cabins aboard the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The hotel has 3 floors of guest rooms and they are located on Decks 4, 5, and 7 of the building.Did the Disney Star Wars hotel close? ›
Walt Disney World is closing down Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, one of its newest and splashiest attractions, at the end of September, the resort announced Thursday. The ultra-immersive – and ultra-pricey – bow to the “Star Wars” universe opened to much fanfare in spring 2022.Is the Galactic Starcruiser closing permanently? ›
The entertainment giant announced on Thursday that it will be permanently closing the resort and attraction this fall. In a statement, Disney said that "the final voyage" for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will take place Sept. 28-30, 2023.Are you allowed to leave the Star Wars hotel? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You are free to leave Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and visit the rest of Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Billed as an immersive experience where guests can interact with characters from the “Star Wars” franchise, the 100-room hotel requires guests to book a minimum of two nights, priced at about $5,000 per couple and closer to $6,000 for a family of four. The cost of a “tricked out” suite jumps to $20,000.Why is the Star Wars Hotel so expensive? ›
The hotel is being billed as an immersive experience by Disney, hence the high prices. You do not simply book a room for the night, but you “board” the 275-year-old space liner dubbed the “Halcyon” and travel to “Star Wars” planet and back. All “journeys” are two nights, and guests stay in one of 100 cabins.How much is it for 2 people to stay at the Star Wars Hotel? ›
Disney's Star Wars hotel will cost $4,809 for two people or $5,999 for four people based on a 2-night, mid-week package. And that's just for starters. Let's explore what's this immersive hotel is all about, and how much you can expect to pay to stay here.Are meals included Star Wars Hotel? ›
As part of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel, guests have exclusive access to the Crown of Corellia Dining Room, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served.
How much is Star Wars hotel per person? ›
FILE - Los Angeles Times columnist Todd Martens sits in one of the bunk beds inside a room in the Disney World Galactic Starcruiser on March 1, 2022. Less than a year after opening to great fanfare, Disney World's $5,000-a-stay Star Wars hotel is slashing rates in an attempt to increase bookings.How much did Disney pay for Star Wars? ›
Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the production company founded by Lucas, on October 30, 2012 for a reported $4.05 billion.What will Disney do with the Galactic Starcruiser? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will shut its airlocks for good after Sept. 30 and the attraction is not currently accepting any new reservations. Disney intends on contacting all future guests who have booked a stay after that date to discuss restitution, altered plans or compensation options.How far in advance can you book Star Wars hotel? ›
General booking for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel began on October 28, 2021. Currently, reservations are available for voyages departing from Now through December 2023. Booking is available for the general public as well as Annual Passholders, DVC Members, Club 33 Members, and Golden Oak residents.When did Starcruiser open? ›
The Star Wars hotel was originally scheduled to open in 2021 according to the Orlando Sentinel, but opened on March 1, 2022 due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic. Early renderings of the project showed that the new hotel would be shaped like a Star Wars starship.Can one person go on the Galactic Starcruiser? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – Frequently Asked Questions
A: If you will be the only person staying in a cabin during a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage, you will be charged the same total package price as 2 adults staying in the same cabin. View sample standard cabin rates.
Yes. All passengers are welcome to bring their own food and beverage (including alcohol) with them onboard the Starcruiser.How many people can stay in Starcruiser? ›
The Halcyon Starcruiser features 100 cabins and suites with views of space, including the Standard Cabin (sleeps 4 to 5 passengers), Galaxy Class Suite (sleeps 4 passengers) and the Grand Captain Suite (sleeps 8 passengers).Can you wear armor to the Starcruiser? ›
A: Absolutely, what you wear is part of the fun. Throughout your Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage, you are encouraged to don your galactic best. You are a character in the story, so we invite you to dress the part.Can I bring my lightsaber to Galactic Starcruiser? ›
And, yes, you can bring your lightsaber. Passengers can dress as their favorite Star Wars character, but they can't pose for photos or sign autographs for fellow Halcyon travelers. The choices you make and actions you take on your Galactic Starcruiser adventure will determine the Star Wars story you experience.
Is Starcruiser all inclusive? ›
What's Included. Every Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser vacation package includes a 2-night stay in a well-appointed cabin or suite, meals (excluding alcoholic and specialty beverages) and the opportunity to live your Star Wars story through exclusive experiences, missions and activities.Why is Galactic Starcruiser so expensive? ›
Why is Galactic Starcruiser so expensive? The all-inclusive experience is expensive because it's a one-of-a-kind chance to live out a fully fleshed Star Wars story, as opposed to simply watching one on TV or the big screen.What is the most expensive hotel room in the world costs $100 K per night? ›
The most expensive hotel room in the world is in Las Vegas. And of course, this was something you expected to hear. Artwork, luxurious equipment and impressive views make, among other things, the Empathy Suite, the world's most expensive suite, as it costs $ 100,000 per night.How much is the most expensive Disney room? ›
- I spent a night in a standard room at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
- It's the most expensive hotel on the property, and the room typically costs $900 a night.
The no-cost reservations for hotel guests will allow a time limit of four hours inside the land per guest. Guests will be required to leave the land once their reservation time is up; if you leave before your time ends, you will not be allowed back in.How much is a stay in the Star Wars hot? ›
The price of a Standard Cabin at the Star Wars Hotel starts at: 2 GUESTS PER CABIN – $4,809 Voyage Total ( $1,209 per person, per night) 3 GUESTS PER CABIN – $5,299 Voyage Total ($889 per person, per night) 4 GUESTS PER CABIN – $5,999 Voyage Total ($749 per person, per night)How much does Galaxy's Edge cost? ›
Entry is free with your Disney World admission, however the land has a set maximum capacity. If the land is full, you can join a virtual queue on the My Disney Experience App. You'll be able to continue exploring the rest of the Hollywood Studios park while you wait for space to open within Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.How much did the Galactic Starcruiser cost to build? ›
Reports indicate the parks and the Galactic Starcruiser cost some $2 billion to build.Is alcohol included on Starcruiser? ›
Alcoholic drinks on board the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser are not included in the vacation package and must be paid for separately. Some non-alcoholic drinks are included (like soda and coffee), but alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty drinks require additional payment.Does Star Wars Hotel include park admission? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – Frequently Asked Questions
A: No. Your theme park reservation and admission to Disney's Hollywood Studios on the day of your planet excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge are included in your Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser vacation package.
Does pizza exist in Star Wars? ›
Pizza was a type of food that was common throughout the galaxy through the days of the Galactic Republic and beyond. A typical pizza nearly always consisted of a flat circular piece of dough with various toppings on it.How much does Disney make a day? ›
In 2019, the company's parks and resorts division brought in a whopping $20.2 billion revenue. This means that the division generated an average of $55.1 million in revenue per day. According to new reports Disney world net worth 2022 is 203.63 billion U.S. dollars.Does George Lucas still make money off of Star Wars? ›
Even though Lucas is not the owner of Lucasfilm now, he still makes a lot of money from the first movie which is considered as the father of the Star Wars saga. Lucas does not earn any royalties from the newer movies or shows as a writer, director, or even creator.Which Star Wars made the most money? ›
That's only part of the story though. Taking ticket price inflation into account, the original 1977 Star Wars film is still the most successful one. While at the time “A New Hope” generated $775 million in worldwide box office earnings, that translates to more than $3.5 billion adjusted to today's ticket prices.Why is Galactic Starcruiser closing? ›
Disney to Close 'Star Wars'-Themed Hotel Less Than Two Years After It Opened. The planned closure of Galactic Starcruiser, an immersive role-playing attraction, comes as Disney seeks to cut overall costs by more than $5 billion. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month.How long can you stay at the Galactic Starcruiser? ›
A: No. All Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages are 2 nights—each 2-night itinerary is specifically designed with immersive activities and unique experiences that bring your Star Wars story to life, all woven together into a continuous narrative that progresses throughout your adventure.Is Galactic Starcruiser refundable? ›
full price of the package is non-refundable.
No refunds will be made for early departure and for unused or partially used admission tickets, options or features, including meals.
Like other cruises, the Halcyon offers 2 dinner seatings with the first at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 8:00 p.m. Guests can submit their preference upon booking, but it is based on availability. Also, it's possible that your group will be seated with other parties.How many rooms are in Galactic Starcruiser? ›
The starcruiser features 100 well-appointed cabins and suites, each one radiating an atmosphere of elegance, style, comfort and exclusivity.What time can guests arrive at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? ›
Guests may board between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM. We are unable to accommodate early arrivals. Please ensure any travel plans allow for ample time to arrive at the terminal before 4:00 PM on the day that your voyage starts. Valet parking is included with your Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser vacation package.
Who lives on Batuu? ›
Inhabitants. The people native to Batuu were known as Batuuans.Was the Galactic Starcruiser reportedly evacuated? ›
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World was briefly evacuated, for the first time as far as we know. Instagram user @jp_visits_disney shared photos from the evacuation. Guests left the building through emergency exit doors and stairs. They gathered on the backstage lawn.Do cast members get discounts on Star Cruiser? ›
Disney Vacation Club Members can save 30% on a special Member-exclusive Starcruiser voyage. Cast Members (Disney employees) may be able to save up to 50% on select voyages.Why did Disney get rid of Star Wars expanded universe? ›
Because it would have constricted their writing too much to keep it. Contrary to popular belief, the Star Wars EU's canon status was already pretty shaky. Works were divided into several levels of canon. Earlier works, like the Marvel Star Wars comics, were pretty much non canon.How much is Disney charging for Star Wars hotel? ›
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Billed as an immersive experience where guests can interact with characters from the “Star Wars” franchise, the 100-room hotel requires guests to book a minimum of two nights, priced at about $5,000 per couple and closer to $6,000 for a family of four. The cost of a “tricked out” suite jumps to $20,000.
In early 1997, Vacationland was closed and demolished. Then in 1999, a significant portion of the hotel was also demolished, all to make way for Downtown Disney and parking areas for the newly expanding Disneyland Resort.Why can't Star Wars leave the Galaxy? ›
Hyperspace turbulence or the hyperbaric barrier is the main reason for the danger. This is not to include Kamino which is technically just outside of the galaxy or even the small planet systems just beyond the borders either.What was removed for galaxy's Edge? ›
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, Galaxy's Edge is located in the southwest portion of the park, with two entries from Grand Avenue and Toy Story Land. Galaxy's Edge replaced the majority of the park's former Streets of America area, including the Lights, Motors, Action!When was Star Wars legends decanonized? ›
Namely, in 2014, Disney announced that they would sunset the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). This effectively decanonized hundreds if not thousands of comics, games, books, and so on that had been part of the extended Star Wars universe. These stories were not erased but rather funneled under a new label of Legends.Why is the Star Wars hotel so expensive? ›
The hotel is being billed as an immersive experience by Disney, hence the high prices. You do not simply book a room for the night, but you “board” the 275-year-old space liner dubbed the “Halcyon” and travel to “Star Wars” planet and back. All “journeys” are two nights, and guests stay in one of 100 cabins.
How much is it for 2 people to stay at the Star Wars hotel? ›
Disney's Star Wars hotel will cost $4,809 for two people or $5,999 for four people based on a 2-night, mid-week package. And that's just for starters. Let's explore what's this immersive hotel is all about, and how much you can expect to pay to stay here.What are the 2 abandoned Disney parks? ›
River Country is one of only two Disney parks to permanently close, along with "Discovery Island", which is situated parallel to the water park.What is the oldest Disney hotel? ›
The First Disney Hotel
The Disneyland Hotel opened to guests in 1955, thanks to the help of oil tycoon Jack Wrather. This hotel was unique in that it specifically appealed to families. Rooms accommodated 4 or more people, and children under 12 stayed free.
If you're looking for history and nostalgia, Disneyland is the way to go. That's because it was Walt Disney's very first theme park, which opened its doors on July 17, 1955. At the time, the park only had a few areas, including Main Street, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland.