Star Wars fans are a fickle bunch.
You have first-generation fans like me who grew up with the movies and the toys. I believed in the world, in the Force.
Over the ensuing generations, Star Wars has meant different things to different people. Many fans cling dearly to what their idea of Star Wars is – what it should be.
And they react strongly against anything that might purport to be Star Wars but lands outside their narrow parameters.
Don’t believe me? Read any Star Wars article, scroll down to the bottom and read the comments.
Stop! I’m kidding. NEVER read the comments.
My personal position? Star Wars is like pizza, even when it’s not great, it’s still pretty good. I like almost everything Disney has done with Star Wars since it purchased the rights from George Lucas for eleventy trillion dollars or whatever.
In fact, I think almost everything Disney has done with Star Wars is better than what Lucas did with the prequels – the second of the three Star Wars trilogies.
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Does Disney do Star Wars well?
When Disney announced Galaxy’s Edge, I was over the forest moon. And they nailed it. Batuu is like walking into Star Wars and living in that world. The rides are certainly good enough to make an old Star Wars fan like me cry.
I know people have been unhappy with the sequel trilogy. I know they say the TV shows have been a mixed bag. But I’m telling you, Disney gave us Black Spire Outpost. And it’s awesome.
I saw the Millennium Falcon. I piloted it.
Rise of the Resistance is a revelation. It’s the greatest ride I’ve ever been on.
I think Disney does Star Wars very well, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What about the Galactic Starcruiser?
Galactic Starcruiser was an ambitious play for the Disney corporation, unlike anything that had been done at Disney parks or – to my knowledge – at any theme park in the world.
The idea was for guests to travel to Walt Disney World in Florida and become voyagers on a premium cruise through space. It is immersive entertainment on a scale that just hadn’t been done before.
The two-night vacation within a vacation would include stepping into Star Wars aboard the Halcyon Starcruiser for a venture across the galaxy that would include a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but the majority of the experience would happen on ship.
Upon boarding through the Galactic Starcruiser Terminal, guests were to become part of the adventure, choosing to help Chewbacca and the Resistance or aid the First Order. Cast members in costumes also helped carry the story along.
There’s fine dining and in-galaxy live entertainment. There’s lightsaber training and Sabaac – the Star Wars card game by which Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando.
The big finale offers a climactic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren that is among the best shows that the Walt Disney World Resort has ever offered… ever.
Most of the feedback was almost universally positive. The Galactic Starcruiser was an excellent experience, an outstanding achievement in almost every metric except the one that really matters, the bottom line.
So the Galactic Starcruiser is closing?
Yes, the final voyage is set for September 2023. Once the announcement was made, new bookings for the remaining voyages jumped.
Fans began trying to get their reservations for an Orlando excursion as fast as possible. As a result, in the coming months, berths on the cruiser will be much harder to come by.
Maybe had Disney announced it was closing sooner, it could have stayed open longer. As it is, the Starcruiser only made it 18 months.
Why is the Galactic Starcruiser closing?
There are a lot of theories, but ultimately I think the answer is simple. Money.
Specifically, Disney took a big swing at a business model that required a heavy price just to make a profit.
Disney needed the cruiser to be close to capacity each voyage and it just wasn’t. In fact, not long before the announcement to close, Disney canceled some voyages due to a lack of sales.
There are only so many specialty beverages that one can sell to make up for empty Grand Captain Suites.
Why didn’t Disney just lower the price?
I’m not privy to Disney’s books, but it’s my belief they couldn’t lower prices and be successful.
The Starcruiser required hotel staff and wait staff who could not only perform their regular duties but also perform at a level that included being able to improv when customers wanted to be involved with the fun. The Starcruiser is a hotel, cruise ship and also intense role-play scenario all rolled into one.
With only about 100 cabins each voyage, lowering the price enough to make a difference in attracting customers, wouldn’t have made a difference in the bottom line.
Basically, Disney created a premium experience and set a premium price. They just misjudged how many Disney and Star Wars fans could afford to add the experience to their Disney vacations.
How expensive was Galactic Starcruiser?
It cost somewhere around $4,000 for two nights for a couple and up.
For my whole family, the cost for two days would have been between $5,550 and $6,000. If anyone wants to send me a grant to go before the final countdown, send me a message.
It seems kind of obvious that it would be hard for people to pay that much. So, did Disney just misread the room?
Yes. And that’s not Sunday morning quarterbacking. I wrote when Disney announced the prices that it was an implausible business plan. However, I am shocked it shut down so quickly.
What will Disney do with the Galactic Starcruiser?
Well, if they could get it to fly, they’d charge $115,000 per adult to go to all the Disney parks in the world. (More on that below).
However, since the Starcruiser can’t fly, there is a lot of speculation and a lot of ideas about what it can do or will be.
Few of the ideas appear to be grounded in reality, but let’s rank some of our favorites.
11. Turn it into Orlando’s first Buc-ee’s
This is a great plan. People love Buc-ee’s.
10. Sell it to a billionaire
All of those guys are trying to start their own space program anyway. Do you know who has a couple of billion lying around? George Lucas.
Heck, he could live in it then come out to Black Spire Outpost and yell at all the people to get off his lawn.
9. Turn it into a regular Star Wars hotel
This seems good in theory. Instead of 24-7 immersion, they could just have a Star Wars-themed hotel with a nightly show or two. Maybe they could offer a dinner show in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room, keep the climactic battle and set pricing at a rate more people can afford.
The problem? It wasn’t built to be JUST a hotel. Specifically, there are not a lot of rooms, and the rooms they have are small.
Also, there’s no view. They only have TV screens to simulate flying through space. Imagine staying in a tiny standard cabin with a queen bed, no view and no way to get out and get fresh air or see the sights.
8. Operate it on a smaller scale
This is an option but as we discussed earlier, I just don’t see how it’s feasible.
You’d still have to pay all the actors enough to keep them on the job even if you’re not launching as many “flights.”
Ultimately, the Starcruiser was a massive innovation, it just didn’t work.
7. Move some of Galaxy’s Edge attractions inside the Starcruiser
Could you redesign the cruiser to become like a Star Wars mall of sorts? Could you bring the Droid Depot into the cruiser? Maybe a couple of restaurants like Docking Bay 7 inside?
I think they could potentially turn the engine room into an escape room or host Star Wars meets and greet in various former suites.
Perhaps they could even turn it into the Star Wars version of Disney Springs.
But it would require investing a lot more into already massive losses.
6. Add more princesses
Look, maybe this whole thing went South when Lucasfilm’s powers decided not to make Rey a princess. This is Disney, after all, and Disney loves princesses. We’ve already got first-class dining and restaurant equipment on board.
Maybe we can have Tiana take over. It worked for Splash Mountain, after all. Tiana’s Intergalactic Eatery does have a certain ring to it.
Or they could look at who is underrepresented at the parks. For instance, they’ve only given Rapunzel a bathroom in the Magic Kingdom.
5. Give it to the Muppets
Three words: Pigs. In. Space.
4. Make it a Star Wars reality show
I think they could hire dozens of Star Wars actors to live in it and make them compete in Star Wars-themed challenges.
Bang. Big money.
3. Rent it out as convention rooms and meeting space
Surely, this idea has some merit. There are dozens of classic conventions across the country.
Are you telling me you couldn’t operate the cruiser a couple of times a year as a premium Star Wars convention host? I think you could.
Bring in Star Wars actors, open the rooms at a premium cost but with exclusive meet and greets. They could host some major events.
People would pay.
2. Go retro
Star Wars came out in 1977. So let’s set the scene.
Get a movie theater to show the classic version of the films on the big screen. Add in an Orange Julius, maybe a Spencer Gifts, a Sears and a Service Merchandise. Let’s goooo.
1. Write it off as a loss for tax purposes
Theoretically, Disney could allow it to set empty until they’re ready to expand Batuu in a more traditional setting. This seems to be what they’re going to actually do.
I don’t think ANY of the ideas out there would result in more money back in Disney’s pockets than this. Maybe in a few years or in a decade, someone will be able to sell Disney on a new idea for the space.
Will this turn Disney away from other premium experiences?
Ha, no. Disney is a whale hunter.
In fact, they just announced Disney Parks Around The World – A Private Jet Adventure, which offers Disney aficionados a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience 12 Disney theme parks around the world, as well as visit the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx of Giza.
The 24-day, 23-night adventure starts at $114,995 per adult. Disney clearly likes a big score.
What do you think about Disney Galactic Starcruiser’s closing? Let us know in the comments.