Walt Disney World this week provided more details about the immersive, cruise-style experience based on the popular film franchise.
Soon visitors to Walt Disney World in Florida will be able to partake in a fully immersive based on the popular “Star Wars” films unlike any other experience offered at the theme parks before. But it won’t come cheap.
Disney released more information Wednesday about the new experience, which is officially called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Earlier this year, Disney DIS, -0.24% announced that their new hotel will open in 2022 at Walt Disney World. Previously, Disney had teased a 2021 opening for the hotel, as noted by travel website Disney Food Blog.
Many of Disney’s new attractions at its theme parks and resorts were delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a new section at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a new ride at Epcot in Florida based on the film, “Ratatouille.”
Galactic Starcruiser won’t be a typical hotel. Disney describes it as a “two-night vacation experience” where visitors live out a Star Wars fantasy on a “Halcyon” ship.
Pricey estimates for two nights
“It’s going to function more like a cruise: everybody checks in and checks out on the same day,” said Len Testa, president of travel website Touring Plans and co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.”
And that extends to the pricing. Disney released sample rates for a two-night stay on the Galactic Starcruiser in a standard cabin, which features one queen bed, two bunk beds and an optional pull-down bed for a fifth person. The hotel’s guest rooms are designed to look like cabins on a spaceship, with windows that look out on the cosmos rather than the grounds of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Much like with with a typical cruise ship, how much a party pays is based on the room.
For a party of two adults, the price for a visit to the Starcruiser will cost $4,809 for two nights based on the sample prices Disney released, which was for a weeknight stay in late August through early September. For a family of four — including three adults and one kid — the total for a visit is roughly $6,000. (At Disney, children older than 10 are considered adults.)
Those prices don’t factor in upgrades to nicer cabins or add-ons, including specialty dining options. Comparatively, vacation on Disney Cruise Line starts at around $1,400 for a two-night cruise with two guests, averaging to around $350 per night for each traveler. “That’s on its oldest ship in the fleet, without the expense of providing live-action role-playing,” Testa said.
The sample pricing is more expensive than what travel experts were anticipating. “The starting number I’ve heard was around $3,600 for the two-night experience in one of the most basic accommodations, with all meals and entertainment included — and, I’m assuming, park passes,” he added. “I would be very, very surprised if Disney did not offer a range of accommodations that increase in price from there.”
What’s included in a visit to the Star Wars hotel
A visit to the Galactic Starcruiser won’t be like a typical hotel stay. “I don’t think any major player in the travel industry has tried to do immersive, live-action role-playing (LARPing) on this scale, or put this much effort into it,” Testa said.
During their time there, guests will interact with other guests and Disney employees as if they are members of the ship’s crew. How those interactions go will determine the rest of their experience, as if they are in a choose-your-own-adventure story.
The experience Disney has said it will offer through the Galactic Starcruiser appears to be “quite revolutionary,” said Carlye Wisel, a freelance theme park journalist. And it reflects how the company has continued to invest in the intellectual property it acquired when it bought the Star Wars franchise’s owner, Lucasfilm, in 2012 for more than $4 billion.
“In the nearly ten years since they purchased Lucasfilm, fans can now see the Millennium Falcon in real life, glide through a First Order Star Destroyer and meet a Stormtrooper up close in the parks, and soon, wake up in a wholly themed environment, which simply doesn’t exist for any other film franchise,” Wisel said, adding that the new hotel “has the potential to set a new standard for hybridized themed entertainment.”
A sample itinerary Disney unveiled for a two-night stay at the Starcruiser gives a sense of what’s included. There are built in portions of the day devoted to the storyline playing out around guests, as well as time for visitors to engage in activities like lightsaber training and droid racing. Some of the interactive experiences will utilize a mobile app visitors can download to their smartphone and wearable devices known as Magic Bands.
As part of their stay at the hotel, guests will also visit the Galaxy’s Edge attraction located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, and the price of tickets is included. There, they will be able to get front-of-the-line access to the Star Wars-themed rides.
Previously in honor of Star Wars Day — which takes place on May 4 each year to evoke of the films’ famous catch-phrase, “May the force be with you” — Disney unveiled more details about what travelers can expect when they stay at the new hotel, called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. This included a look at a “real” light saber that will be featured at the Galactic Starcruiser.
The device was created by Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development. In a video, an actress dressed like the character Rey from the third part of the film saga wields the weapon. Guests won’t handle these new light sabers themselves — only specific characters will wield them — but they will be able to take part in light saber training as part of their visit.
Additionally, Disney previously released artwork showing the concept behind the supper club where visitors will be able to eat their meals during their stay. Called “the Crown of Corellia Dining Room,” the restaurant will feature a multi-course menu and entertainment from live performers. The eatery’s name is a reference to the planet in the film franchise where the famous Millennium Falcon spaceship was built.
Disney is rolling out other Star Wars-themed experiences
The Galactic Starcruiser hotel isn’t the only new Star Wars-themed experience Disney has in the works. The company is also currently developing an adults-only bar for its new cruise ship, the Disney Wish, which will also set sail next year.
In 2019, Disney opened new Star Wars-themed lands at its Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida and Disneyland theme park in California. Called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the themed areas feature two new rides, plus a host of gift shops and restaurants, based on the franchise created by George Lucas.
Those attractions opened earlier than Disney had planned due to the high demand from guests, but Disney’s theme parks division has faced significant challenges much like the rest of the theme park industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Disneyland Resort only reopened in late April after being closed for more than a year because of the viral outbreak, and the company’s theme parks in France remain closed at this time after briefly reopening earlier in the pandemic. Capacity at the company’s theme parks around the globe is reduced, limiting the company’s revenue.