What does the future hold for the soon-to-close Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Disney?
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was one of Disney World’s most ambitious projects — and that’s saying a lot about a company that has paved a lot of roads in the worlds of parks and entertainment. While it may have been known off-handedly as the ‘Star Wars Hotel,’ it provided much more than a place to sleep after running around Disney World all day … and charged accordingly.
When the Galactic Starcruiser departed on its first public voyage on March 1, 2022, reports from guests of the two-night, immersive entertainment painted a picture of an out-of-this-world time. Multiple TPG staffers who tried it felt the same magic of living out childhood dreams.
But guests on the Starcruiser also paid an out-of-this-world price for the experience, even by Disney standards — a two-night voyage for a family of four costs upwards of $6,000. Despite the price, many of the first several months of experiences appear to have sold out. But there was evidence of cracks in demand by late 2022.
Today, Disney announced the final voyage for the Halcyon Starcruiser will be Sept. 28-30, 2023.
This news comes as Disney is in the midst of a plan to cut $5.5 billion in costs across the Walt Disney Company, including not only the Starcruiser but reducing 7,000 jobs from its workforce, restructuring its business segments and canceling a plan to move approximately 2,000 Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products cast members from Southern California to a new campus in Lake Nona near Disney World.
So while this is a much larger day of news for Disney than just the Starcruiser, we’re going to focus on what happened — and what we hope will happen next.
Why is the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser closing?
Voyages booked up quickly in the early days, with mega Star Wars fans jumping at the chance to take a (simulated) voyage through the universe of Kylo Ren, Rey, Chewbacca and a handful of new characters created just for the experience. The cast members that played these roles brought the story to life in a way that is hard to compare to since it was such a unique offering. It was so unique that it sold out solid for months after opening with no discounts available.
By November 2022, Disney offered a 30% discount on select voyages to Disney Vacation Club members. In January of this year, Disney offered its first public discount on pre- or post-Starcruiser Disney hotel stays, and in March 2023, Disney announced that Starcruiser voyages would be cut back from three voyages per week to only two starting in October of this year, while also offering up a 30% discount to annual pass holders.
Even with those discounts, you were still looking at thousands of dollars to have the experience. Despite that, guests who visited the Galactic Starcruiser largely sang its praises as evidenced in multiple Facebook groups dedicated just to the experience. It won a themed entertainment industry award, despite only being open for a short time. Even TPG gave it an award in 2022 for its innovation.
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But at $6,000+ for a family, it cost more than a Disney Cruise and potentially even more than some family trips to Europe. As cool as it was, ultimately it was a high price tag for a less than 48-hour experience largely taking place inside a building in Central Florida.
In a statement shared with TPG, Disney gave more details on the closure:
“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. This premium, boutique experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms, and as we prepare for its final voyage, we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our guests and fans.”
Can you still book a voyage on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
As pricey the Starcruiser experience is — or was — we know of multiple repeat guests who even would go in with friends (or strangers) to share a room and divide the cost by as many people as possible just to have the experience. And the good news for them, and other hopeful voyagers, is that you can still book stays at the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser through the end of September. The final voyage will take place Sept. 28-30, 2023, and most weeks have two to three voyages available.
However, new bookings are temporarily paused while Disney works to rebook guests who were already booked for dates that would now fall after the final voyage.
New bookings will reopen on May 26, 2023. You can view available voyage dates on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser website.
What does the future hold for the space occupied by the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
After hearing this news, we can’t help but wonder what comes next for the Galactic Starcruiser. Truth be told, we’ve been pondering that for a while as some warning signs became evident.
The themed space hotel is already there, fully operational and located directly behind the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area within Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
There are plenty of Star Wars fans who still haven’t had a chance to sleep in a space bunk, look out the room’s ‘window’ into space and enjoy the exclusive themed bar and restaurant, not to mention the other unique spaces.
Perhaps the next journey for the Starcruiser could be to become a Star Wars Hotel, as it was offhandedly known after all. We’d love to see the themed restaurant, bar and common areas available to more visitors. The space-themed Space 220 restaurant in Epcot shares some similarities with this hotel and it is one of the hardest-to-book restaurants in all of Disney World even after being open for about 18 months.
With this property’s theme and proximity, layering in some special early or late access to Galaxy’s Edge area in Hollywood Studios seems … possible. The technology also already exists for guests to take part in special missions and unlock codes in an app, and while that would lose some magic without the immersive element of the Starcruiser, it could still appeal to many.
Related: How to plan an epic Disney ‘Star Wars’ trip — that doesn’t cost $6,000
A themed hotel with special park access and unique food and beverages could presumably command at least Disney deluxe hotel prices, which are already often $500 to $700 per night at other properties.
Perhaps staying in an out-of-this-world-themed hotel is still a one-and-done experience, but there are likely more guests willing to spend several hundred per night to travel to a galaxy far, far away than spend several thousand dollars per night.
You don’t need the power of the Force to know that Star Wars is likely to be a major presence at Disney for years to come.
A quick scroll through the long list of Star Wars-themed movies and television shows on Disney+ proves that Star Wars is still quite popular. And, of course, there are entire Star Wars-themed lands at both Disney World and Disneyland that aren’t going anywhere.
So while big changes are ahead for the Starcruiser, we aren’t fully packing away our Jedi robes and lightsabers just yet. Instead, we’ll cross our fingers that there may be “A New Hope” for a different version of Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser awaiting in the future.