Disney to Permanently Shutter Its Expensive, Interactive ‘Star Wars’ Hotel

Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

Last March, Disney launched Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an interactive, highly immersive three-day, two-night experience adjacent to the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. Today they have announced that the final “voyage” will happen on Sept. 28.

In a statement from Disney, they said that “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.”

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The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was marked by a few things — an almost unparalleled level of immersion that was something akin to what would happen if an interactive theater troupe overtook a cruise ship and made everybody on board join in the play; several cutting-edge advancements, including the introduction of a “real” lightsaber and a jaw-dropping Yoda hologram; an “excursion day” which saw guests do special activities in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and an eye-watering price point — going on the “ship” costs around $1,200 per person, per day. (And keep in mind you had to do the entire three-day, two-night experience.)

Housed in a low-slung, industrial-looking building that brings to mind a soviet prison more than an imaginative, “Star Wars”-themed experience, the hotel was announced during the D23 Expo in Anaheim in 2017. Disney was bullish about the upcoming experience, especially since it included many of the elements that were originally earmarked for the Galaxy’s Edge land before budget cuts forced them out. Remember the “dinner theater” we were promised for Galaxy’s Edge? You could do it on the Galactic Starcruiser. Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the rumored $90 billion project finally opened last spring.

But the experience was mired in confusion almost from the get-go. Cast members who worked at Walt Disney World weren’t exactly sure what it was. And it was too exclusive and expensive for your average guest to Walt Disney World. For the price point, it didn’t have the amenities or activities you’d expect. There was no pool or spa; the entire experience was crammed with lore and interacting with characters and rushing around.

There were recent signs that the Starcruiser was sputtering; they went from booking three “voyages” a week to two and offering heavy discounts to cast members and members of Disney Vacation Club, their timeshare arrangement.

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“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,” Disney said in an official statement.

And they are right — this was an incredible experience; we got to do a truncated version last year shortly before opening and it left us wanting to spend all of our money for the full stay. It was ingenious and eye-popping and genuinely felt like a next-level product coming from a company that hadn’t innovated, really innovated, in a long time. But even then we were wondering how the experience would connect with the everyday guest. And now we know that it didn’t.

“We will be contacting Guests booked for voyages departing on or after Sept. 30 to discuss their options and modify their plans. To prioritize these Guests, we are pausing new bookings until May 26,” Disney said in a statement. “We are so proud of all of the Cast Members and Imagineers who brought Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser to life and look forward to delivering an excellent experience for Guests during the remaining voyages over the coming months.”

Disney said that it plans on creating experiences that more guests can experience, jettisoning this bespoke opportunity into the cold recesses of outer space.

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