A lot of people have been talking about Disney World’s new Star Wars Hotel, the Galactic Starcruiser. Specifically, people have been talking about how they feel it won’t succeed. Well, ever the fanboy, I am still excited about it, and if you want to talk about reasons to be excited too, then this is for you!
What Is It?
Long story short, this is a Star Wars themed hotel that is outside of Hollywood Studios, Disney World (Galaxy’s Edge/Star Wars Land).
The theming of this hotel, however, is what is making it stand out and make a splash. It’s not just a place where your room is designed and food looks like Star Wars space stuff, it is also a fully immersive experience, designed to make you feel like you are actually in a galaxy far, far away.
The whole thing is set to emulate a 2-day cruise, where you arrive to the port at a specific time, then through Disney Imagineering Magic you feel like you are transported into outer space, where you’ll walk off a pod and into a ship in space. This isn’t just any cruise ship, however, as it was recently announced that this is the ship where Han and Leia got married after the success of the Rebellion on the Forest Moon of Endor.
Then, for the next 48 hours (or so) you are just on a cruise, complete with free food, entertainment, alcoholic beverages, and an excursion, or adventure at a port city. However, the port city this time is the Black Spire Outpost in Batuu, also known as Galaxy’s Edge, or Star Wars Land in Disney World. You get to hang out for a few hours, see the local tourist sites, then hop back on the ship to head home.
While all of this is happening, there is a story going on around you that you are supposedly a part of. Canonically it takes place between The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, meaning that this is at the height of the First Order vs. Resistance war, with Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. The ship crew itself is not a part of the war, because it’s a cruise ship, but the “rumor” is that the crew are secretly trying to help the Resistance, but the First Order are very suspicious of them.
The whole thing requires a heavy amount of suspension of disbelief, but if you can allow yourself to accept the reality of this imaginary world, it is supposed to be a Westworld level of immersion, of Live Action Roleplay.
The main two reasons people have been concerned or predicting failure for this hotel, is the price tag (two people during the slow season is about $5,000USD), and the promo videos, where not much was shown, besides poorly designed set pieces.
A lot of the information I got below is either from the website where you plan your stay, or from a press preview, where people from Nerdist, IGN, and more.
Why I’m Excited
For years I worked in hospitality and travel, and I can tell you there are three parts to any vacation: Where You Sleep, What You Eat, and What You Do.
Where You Sleep
Now, here I don’t just mean your actual room, but the hotel itself as a whole. Here, this is a “cruise ship” with only about 100 rooms, so about 300 people that you are sharing this cruise with, which is incredibly small.
There is a large atrium, a formal dining room, a lounge/bar, a bridge for the crew, some training areas, a semi-secret engineering area, and a “climate simulator” a.k.a. courtyard for fresh air. That is a lot of distinct areas, and according to the art, I don’t think you need to worry about bumping elbows with strangers very often, except when you are all gathered around a single area for an event.
The setting is meant to be incredibly elegant in the public spaces, allowing you to relax if you wish, or wander around and admire the ships interior.
What You Eat
The food looks incredibly designed, and while we haven’t heard much in terms of the quality of it, anyone that goes to Disney parks knows that the food is usually decent. Again like a cruise ship, one of the two dinners is considered a “formal” night where you are encouraged to dress up, but then there’s the lounge where I anticipate there will be smaller dishes meant to nibble on. Also, if I’m understanding correctly, you will also get a free meal at the Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo at Galaxy’s Edge during the excursion. So lots of options for food, all of which should be fairly nice.
What You Do
This is obviously the centerpiece of the stay, as it is for most vacations.
The biggest part of what you do, is participate in the storytelling of the ship. Every employee/Cast Member/Crew (whatever you want to call them) is also an actor, who you can talk to, help, hinder, or interact with in a meaningful way. Like I said, the crew are secretly helping the Resistance, but the First Order have become suspicious of them. One piece of roleplay that has been pushed to the front of the marketing, is a moment where Chewbacca is attempting to smuggle a piece of luggage onto the ship, and you can either try to help him get away, distract the First Order troops, or betray Chewie and let the First Order know what he’s doing. Major choices like this mean that no two trips will be the same, because you never know what your fellow passengers will do in any given situation.
There are also two training moments, one of which lets you wield a lightsaber as you deflect beams of light, and another is learning how the bridge crew operate and potentially protect the ship from attacks.
Lastly, of course, there is the excursion to Batuu, where you will get either front line access, or at least FastPass/Lightning Lane/Genie (whatever they are calling it lately) for the two rides, Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run. Apparently, the story of what’s going on on those rides directly influences what happens on the ship in the roleplay. The reason you are smuggling goods in the Millennium Falcon can change depending on to whom your allegiance lies.
Why I’m Not Concerned, Yet
Again, the majority of the backlash that Disney has received is from the, admittedly terrible, promotional videos they released a few months ago. Nothing feels like Star Wars in those shots, and I think I can tell why. First, Star Wars, in every film, follows the military side of the story, as it does have War in the title. This trip is distinctly trying to stay away from the war, though it seems to find you anyway. So instead of beat up, military equipment, there are sleek designs and clean surfaces. You could always tell a shot of Star Wars apart from Star Trek, even if there were no actors on screen, because Star Wars looks dirty and broken, and Star Trek doesn’t. Well, the Galactic Starcruiser isn’t supposed to look dirty and broken, so for many, this doesn’t feel like Star Wars.
However, we also have barely seen any of the actual ship. Above, whenever I could compare two pictures I did, but as you can see, it’s still mostly concept art. From those who have previewed the construction, they say that much of it looks just like the art released, which is in large part what drove people to make reservations before any videos were released.
Also, if you’ve been on the Rise of the Resistance ride, you’ll know just how realistic the whole thing feels. For the attraction, the line between queue and ride blurs, to the point where you ride a shuttle up into space, and when you walk out, you really feel like you are on the deck of a Star Destroyer. The whole thing is so surreal, and if they use the same techniques, I know that I would be able to fully allow myself to believe I’m in space.
Overall, just like judging a movie on it’s trailer alone, I don’t think we should judge this immersive hotel/park experience on it’s trailer alone. The first actual guests aboard the ship will be “returning to Earth” on Thursday, March 3rd, and until then, we are getting incomplete perceptions of an unfinished product. Also, I might have a lot more to say about this place