7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (2023)

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.

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SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Disney World’s Star Wars hotel

“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.

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (1)

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.

(Video) Disney's $300 Million FAILURE! The Star Wars Hotel CLOSED By Bob Iger

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.

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (2)

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.

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (3)

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.

(Video) Why Disney Is Scrapping Its ‘Star Wars’ Hotel and $900 Million Florida Campus | WSJ

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (4)

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.

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (5)

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.

7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (6)

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.

(Video) The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser is an EPIC FAIL for $6,000?!!?

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 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (7)

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.

(Video) Why is Disney SHUTTING DOWN Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?

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7 reasons Disney World’s $5,000 Star Wars hotel failed (8)


Why is Disney closing Star Wars Hotel? ›

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build an immersive “Star Wars”-themed hotel at Walt Disney World, Disney said on Thursday that, amid sweeping corporate cost-cutting, it would close the underperforming attraction in September, only about 18 months after it opened.

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.

How long is the Star Wars hotel stay? ›

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.

How much money does it cost to go to the 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.

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.

What did Disneyland get rid of for Star Wars? ›

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!

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.

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.

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.

Who lives on Batuu? ›

Inhabitants. The people native to Batuu were known as Batuuans.

Are there windows in the Star Wars Hotel? ›


One-bedroom Galaxy Class Suites feature a living space complete with an integrated seating area and have all the comforts of Standard Cabins plus a double vanity bathroom, bar area, 2 windows with views out into space and a few extra Star Wars surprises.

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.

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.

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.

How much did the Star Wars ride at Disney cost? ›

Disney has not released the exact cost for the ride, but estimates have ranged from $200 million to $450 million — and that's for each version of the ride, not a total for both.

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 bring your own alcohol on the Galactic Starcruiser? ›

Yes. All passengers are welcome to bring their own food and beverage (including alcohol) with them onboard the Starcruiser.

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.

Why did George Lucas let Disney buy Star Wars? ›

Speaking to the New York Times, Lucas said, “I'm doing this so that the films will have a longer life, so that more fans and people can enjoy them in the future.” He said he believed that Disney was the right company to sell the company to, as they had both the resources and the expertise to continue and expand the ...

Did Disney spoil Star Wars? ›

Criminally panned as ruining Star Wars, here's why Disney didn't actually ruin the franchise.

What ride is Disney getting rid of? ›

Hear why some fans aren't happy about it. Disney has closed Splash Mountain, one of its long-running attractions in the Magic Kingdom theme park, as the company plans to reimagine the ride to remove any ties from the controversial film "Song of the South." Some fans have filed a petition to keep the ride the same.

Is Galactic Starcruiser all inclusive? ›

Another thing to consider here is that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is essentially an all-inclusive boutique hotel plus an interactive live entertainment experience.

Do hotels charge for 2 people? ›

Hotel room rates are based on double occupancy. You usually don't have to pay extra for kids in the room. But hotels often charge $20 to $50 per additional adult per night, Banas says. To avoid this fee, you need to be aware of it before you book so that you can search for another hotel that doesn't charge it.

How much is a trip to Star Wars land? ›

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.

How long can you stay at Galaxy's Edge? ›

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)

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.

Can you smoke on Galactic Starcruiser? ›

For the comfort of all Guests, Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser are smoke free.

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.

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 long is Disney hotel closed for? ›

This iconic 5-star Hotel will reopen in 2024 as the ultimate Disney royal address in Europe after a complete transformation with its new royal theme, featuring themed rooms and suites inspired by Disney classics such as Tangled, Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella as well as Frozen as shown in the new concept from one of ...

Why are Disneyland hotels sold out? ›

Some hotels only have select room categories, while others are sold out entirely for broad ranges of dates. This is occurring occasionally for Summer 2021 travel dates, but is a more pronounced issue for October 2021 and beyond. The simplest and most straightforward explanation for this is demand.


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