Announced in 2017 and opened to much fanfare in March 2022, Disney revealed last month that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s final voyage will be in September of this year. That’s only a year-and-a-half in business for an attraction several years – and several hundred million dollars – in the making.
Farewell, Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
The Galactic Starcruiser is part hotel, theme park, and live theater. The two-night experience simulates being on a starliner for a cruise through space where guests, er, passengers, meet an entire cast of characters, including a few from the big screen.
The two-day stay is, in fact, a story all its own, with guests encouraged to take part.
My life was busy in 2017, and even though I was all-in on Star Wars, I’d missed the announcement. But as the opening neared in 2022, my wife (also a big fan) and I were fascinated. From the look of the place in leaked photos to the reports from people who got to go, it sounded right up our alley.
Star Wars Hotel Priced Many Fans Out of The Experience
We love to travel, and we love Star Wars (she walked down the aisle to music from the final scene of the 1977 film, after all). It seemed like a perfect match for us.
That is until we heard the price.
Roughly $5,000 for a couple for two nights. The price tag rises to $6,000 for two adults and two children.
We’re not afraid to spend money when we travel, but we also like to be smart about it. The cost for two nights at the Star Wars hotel was comparable to what we spent for six nights in Costa Rica last November (including first-class airfare) and eleven nights in London in April.
So, the Galactic Starcruiser was a “maybe someday” thing for us. Who knew when that someday would be in a world full of places to go and things to see?
The Price Tag Was Not All-Inclusive
We weren’t the only ones with sticker shock. Sarah Gilliland from ontheroadwithsarah.com and Travel Editor at Wealth of Geeks writes, “When the pricing announcement was made, my jaw hit the floor.” She also booked a longer trip for the same price – in her case, a seven-night cruise for her family.
Sarah also notes that the price tag doesn’t even include park tickets. Aside from locals who can visit the parks some other time, I’m not sure how many people would have wanted to travel to Orlando and not see anything else.
The Star Wars Hotel That Wasn't Truly a Hotel
The fact that the Starcruiser is more than a hotel also means you’re not coming and going as you please. The idea is you stay there the entire time – with the exception an excursion to Batuu (also known as Galaxy’s Edge, the immersive Star Wars-themed section of neighboring Hollywood Studios). Of course, there are plenty of things to do such as lightsaber classes, learning how to fly the ship on the bridge, and helping the good guys on a secret mission.
At the same time, there are almost no amenities you’d expect to see at a standard hotel – much less one costing thousands of dollars a night. The Star Wars hotel has no gym and no pool.
Fan Sites Reactions and Reviews Were Mixed
With an itinerary full of missions, there probably isn’t much time to relax. That kind of sustained immersion isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Aside from a few genuinely die-hard fans, it’s also not the kind of thing many people will want to do more than once, even if they can afford it.
Unsurprisingly, the high cost has been the most prominent problem. Theme park blogs noted falling occupancy rates and even cancellations within a few months of the opening. Of all the Star Wars fans I know, I’m unsure if I know anyone who paid to go; everyone I heard of experiencing the hotel had gone for free on a press trip.
Disney Stands by Closure as ‘Business Decision'
The company was forthright at the outset that the closure was a business decision. Not long after the announcement, Josh D’Amaro, Chariman of Disney Parks and Resorts, told a J.P. Morgan investment conference that the decision to close Galactic Starcruiser was because the attraction “didn’t perform like we wanted it to perform.”
With only 100 rooms and just as many performers to pay, the vacancies had much to do with that poor performance.
As the economy continues to suffer, it’s not hard to see why people wouldn’t spend five to six grand for two nights. Or, as one person tweeted, “It might not be closing if they didn’t make you take out a second mortgage and sell your first child to experience it.”
Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, We Hardly Knew You
I feel bad for the Imagineers and cast members who put so much into creating it and bringing it to life for every voyage. I’d have liked to have experienced it.
It was hardly a surprise to see it close, other than how quickly the closure occurred. Even as a Star Wars fan, my reaction was a shrug when they announced the impending closure. Our ability to go was such a far-off possibility, and at some indeterminate time in the future, that I didn’t feel like we’d lost anything. We’d never really had it to lose in the first place.