Disney is shutting down its ambitious Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience at Walt Disney World. The Galactic Starcruiser’s final voyage with guests will take place September 28-30, 2023.
Disney has suspended bookings for voyages prior to the final date while they contact guests with reservations beyond the closing date. New bookings will reopen on May 26, 2023.
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was a two-night experience that brought guests directly into a Star Wars story. Guests were encouraged to become their own Star Wars character and insert themselves into a story that could lead to unique, individualized experiences within a larger overall story.
The Galactic Starcruiser was more than just a well-themed hotel. Guests interacted with cast members, created connections, and ultimately got involved in the story. The entire concept was a blend of a hotel mixed with an interactive theater show. Guests were tasked with missions that, if they chose to complete them, would alter how their time on the Galactic Starcruise unfolded.
Unfortunately, the Galactic Starcruiser was polarizing ever since it opened in March 2022. The experience carried an enormous price that quickly restricted the pool of guests that could enjoy what it had to offer. That said, the vast majority of guests who did experience a voyage on the Galactic Starcruiser gave it rave reviews. The complaints that did surface were always about the price and how the value really varied depending on the guest’s commitment to getting involved.
Starcruiser was a highly immersive experience unlike anything every done before at Walt Disney World. Disney is making it clear this was strictly a business decision, citing the fact that it receives the highest guest satisfaction ratings in the history of Walt Disney World.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 18, 2023
Disney’s willingness to try something new is one we applaud and congratulate despite the experience closing less than two years later. There hasn’t been anything quite like it on the scale Disney created – an immersive hotel experience that also bled into the nearby Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
But, the Galactic Starcruiser had some glaring issues from a business perspective long before it opened its doors. The price has been discussed again and again whenever the Galactic Starcruiser is mentioned, and while we don’t want to beat that point into the ground, it’s impossible to avoid it.
Guests had to be willing to pay around $5,000 for a cabin of two guests for the two-night experience. That’s a huge barrier for a majority of guests regardless of how passionate their Star Wars fandom is in their life. We won’t even get started on the new trilogy or how guests basically had to participate to get their money’s worth, but those are key factors too.
Despite some guests repeating the Galactic Starcruiser experience (some multiple times), it wasn’t a feasible idea for most. Outside of paying the steep price again, the overall story didn’t evolve on the Galactic Starcruiser. Spoiler alert: the First Order never wins regardless of what guests do on the ship. The story is understandably on rails, and that kind of takes away from the desire to do it a second time when the outcome is decided.
Disney had discussed creating new stories and plots for guests back in April 2022, but that never panned out.
Going forward, Disney says it will focus resources on opportunities that will be more accessible to a larger group of its fans.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 18, 2023
The demise of the Galactic Starcruiser will likely be the last time we see Disney take this kind of creative swing. For that reason, this is very disappointing news. We like seeing Disney take risks and go for it when it comes to creativity. That’s especially true when modern Disney has been creating bland and uninspired projects. (We’re looking at you, recent resort additions that look like they could belong in any hotel in the country)
We’d love to see Disney create more hyper-immersive hotels. A Haunted Mansion hotel. Or even a hotel with a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad theme. Guests want to be transported places, and that’s where the Galactic Starcruiser succeeded. Maybe they can take what they learned with the Galactic Starcruiser and blend it into future concepts that make more financial sense and appeal to more guests.
So, what becomes of the Galactic Starcruiser? Guests have loved to speculate that it could become a regular well-themed hotel, but the space isn’t really built for that purpose. Disney could market it as a hybrid that sits between a regular hotel and what the Galactic Starcruiser was, though that’d take a good number of changes to pull off.