Walt Disney World has released the first-ever Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser resort discount for Annual Passholders, following up on the popularity of other recent targeted deals. This post shares dates & details, plus commentary.
This isn’t the only new discount. If you’re looking for regular hotel rooms, there are also discounts of up to 30% off for residents of Florida and up to 35% off for Annual Passholders. There’s also a tiered general public discount of up to 30% off.
Here are the official details of this new promotion courtesy of Walt Disney World: Annual Passholders can save 30% on select Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser—valid for voyages on the following departure dates in spring and summer 2023:
April 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29
May 1, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29 and 31
June 2, 4, 6, 14, 18, 20, 24, 26 and 28
It’s the most immersive Star Wars story ever created—one where you live a unique experience and journey further into a Star Wars adventure than you ever dreamed possible. And it’s yours to discover with this special offer.
The number of packages allocated for this offer is limited.
Savings based on the non-discounted price a non-Passholder pays for the same package.
Passholder must present a valid Walt Disney World Annual Pass at check-in.
Offer is nontransferable.
All packages are a 2-night experience. Package includes entry to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for one (1) day on day 2 of the experience. This admission ticket expires at midnight prior to departure date. Ticket is required in all Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser packages. Tickets may not be modified, are non-upgradable, non-transferable and non-refundable and exclude activities/events separately priced. Package includes two (2) breakfast, two (2) lunch and two (2) dinner meals per Guest, with gratuity included for dinners; and one (1) quick-service meal consisting of one (1) entrée and either one (1) nonalcoholic beverage or, if age 21 or over, one (1) alcoholic beverage (where available), or, for Guests ages 3 to 9, one (1) combo meal from the children’s menu offerings, to be used in the theme park only. Entertainment and experiences onboard subject to change without notice or liability.
Offer is only applicable for new reservations.
Limit one cabin per Passholder; Passholder must stay in the cabin.
Advance reservations required.
Offer is subject to the Walt Disney Travel Company Terms and Conditions for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Vacations.
Offer dates are subject to change without notice.
Offer excludes Galaxy Class Suites and Grand Captain Suites.
Following that, there was last month’s special offer to Save Up to $700 on 2-Night Disney World Resort Stays when paired with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. In our view, this was a good discount for people who already had Starcruiser booked. In other words, it incentivized Deluxe Resort stays before or after, and not Starcruiser bookings. The focus was on the wrong thing.
More recently, Walt Disney World released Cast Member discounts of 50% off select Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages. Now this actually is a good deal and one that might help fill some of the many empty rooms. The only issue is that it’s very narrowly targeted, and only a small subset of all Cast Members who are eligible could actually afford to do this pricey experience.
Finally, just last week Disney Vacation Club offered a 30% off member voyage from August 19 to August 21, 2023. This was unlike the one last year, as it was bookable with points or cash, making it an actual deal. This DVC voyage booked up almost instantly, and the waitlist was quickly filled and cut off, too. So clearly there is demand for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser…just not at full price!
Our commentary there essentially expressed frustration that Walt Disney World was not fixing the underlying issue: pricing. This new discount does exactly that, so kudos to Disney for releasing this special offer.
Some fans are going to complain that 30% off is not enough. Others will take issue with this only being for Annual Passholders given that new APs aren’t even available for purchase right now. These are arguably fair concerns.
However, our expectation is that this will be sufficient to get people off the fence and book Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, and many of these voyages will sell out as a result. Although Starcruiser is pricey, it’s also an all-inclusive experience and 30% off is fairly substantial (and unprecedented, at least for this many dates and for this wide of an audience).
Keep in mind that this is a very small hotel. A targeted offer to current APs is probably more than enough to fill all unsold rooms for many of these dates. From a business perspective, this is a good first step on Disney’s part.
If anything, I’m mildly surprised that they went right to 30% off rather than starting smaller and incrementally increasing the amount. If these dates don’t all sell out, expect a Florida resident rate to be released within the next couple of weeks for the exact same offer. Walt Disney World has utilized that strategy with regular resorts in the last couple of years. We do not expect a general public offer anytime soon, unless this fails to fill up with targeted deals.
Before it even opened, we predicted that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser might struggle to find an audience once the initial wave of hardcore fans and affluent enthusiasts got their fix. We also predicted that Walt Disney World would be slow to pivot, and would quietly offer targeted discounts to Cast Members and other groups to avoid publicly “admitting” that the Starcruiser was not a big success.
This perspective was hardly unique, and one many Walt Disney World commentators and fans who had ‘been around the block’ shared. So I say this not to boast that I nailed the prediction, but out of frustration that Disney did not foresee this internally, and has no apparent plans to pivot or do anything differently. (What follows is commentary from our previous post about Galactic Starcruiser slashing voyages. We’re re-sharing it here since these are important points that often get missed in the discourse about this ‘resort.’)
Starcruiser is struggling, and if the status quo is maintained, this will only get worse over time. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser debuted during a period of pent-up demand and free-spending consumers. Its first year largely exhausted the supply of hardcore Star Wars and Disney fans who have the money and interest in an experience like this.
As we wrote before, reducing the number of weekly voyages cut costs and consolidates what demand does exist, but it doesn’t fix any underlying issues. Namely, it does not expand the audience or appeal of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. It’s a band aid approach that will simply result in Starcruiser losing less money and failing slower.
To that point, another prediction we made even before Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser opened was that if it failed, it would close. There are possible pivots (we’ll discuss those in a bit), but converting this building to a standard hotel is not one of them. Many Walt Disney World fans seem to assume this is a plausible or inevitable outcome. It is not.
Starcruiser does not have a laundry list of amenities that a normal guest would expect of a hotel–everything from a pool to outdoor common areas to working windows. Part of the reason Starcruiser has been such a challenge to market is because it is fundamentally not a hotel. It’s an immersive experience that offers a place to sleep.
Starcruiser is also very small. The entire thing is only 100 rooms. The scale does not work as a hotel, especially given the level of investment that would be required to convert this into a standard hotel. It would be like throwing good money after bad.
Honestly, even if Starcruiser could somehow be operated as a hotel without any material changes, I suspect it’s not viable. The operating costs of staffing and maintaining it–even without entertainment performers–might be too high given the low number of rooms. (As I’ve said before, even at present, I don’t think the margins on Starcruiser are nearly as healthy as many fans assume. Yes, the price is high, but so too are the operating costs.)
I write all of this not as one of the doom & gloom bloggers or vloggers who has an axe to grind with Disney or Star Wars. There are plenty of people who have been openly hoping for the failure of Starcruiser. I am not one of them. I’m simply trying to be cognizant of operational and economic realities, as well as demand for this experience as it exists.
To those points, I also know that guest satisfaction for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is excellent. We’re talking higher scores than just about anything else at Walt Disney World. I have heard this from multiple people with knowledge of the Halcyon, and I have no reason to doubt them. (This also comports with our Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Review, which is incredibly positive about everything except for the price.)
I have no issue calling out the many mistakes that Disney has made with this, but the actual experience is not one of them. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser having some of the highest guest satisfaction scores of anything at Walt Disney World should be entirely unsurprising for anyone who has actually done a voyage.
For those who haven’t, it’s an incredibly well-done, memorable, and personalized experience. Everything about it is amazing. You become emotionally invested in the outcome of the storyline and the whole thing is just immensely satisfying. Walt Disney World has had its hits and misses in recent years, but this delivers in just about every regard. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is classic Walt Disney World–a true triumph of Imagineering.
The main problem, of course, is the price. (For more thoughts on this expensive pricing, see Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth the High Cost?) Guest satisfaction is incredibly high, but there’s just a tiny bit of selection bias there: it’s surveying those who could afford to do Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Not polled are the ~95% of the potential audience for this that either could not afford it or don’t want to invest the time in a multi-day live action role playing experience.
Basically, Walt Disney World has something that’s awesome and envelope-pushing, but has high operating costs and even higher price points for guests. The end result is something highly exclusionary that reduces a potentially large consumer pool into a very small one.
So what’s the solution? Well, I can tell you what it is not, and that’s what Disney is doing. Again, this is a band aid approach that temporarily stems the bleeding and reduces costs. But it still puts Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser on a path to eventual closure if no other interventions are taken.
The real solution is expanding the consumer-base. This is accomplished by offering something that’s more approachable, both from a pricing perspective and also a time commitment one. It’s not either/or, it’s both. Due to the scale and operating expenses, there’s likely only so much cost-cutting that can be done to reduce pricing on the 2-night experience while still maintaining profitability. That’s fine, because price is not the only impediment to people doing Starcruiser–it’s also investing 2 nights of limited vacation time into an experience that might not be for everyone.
As we’ve suggested before, the solution is debuting ‘day trips’ aboard the Halcyon. Walt Disney World could offer 8-hour experiences that condense key moments of the storyline into a single day visit. The branching script could be rewritten in a way that hits the major high notes, basically turning the Halcyon into a boutique theme park or interactive narrative experience. (Somewhat like Meow Wolf, but exponentially more expensive.)
This shorter experience would be very attractive to some fans and also significantly cheaper. It would introduce a whole new audience to Starcruiser, and whet their appetite for even more. It could result in even more bookings of the 2-night voyage as people learn how good Starcruiser really is.
I know this is feasible and also would incentivize full voyages because I attended a partial-day preview of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser before it officially opened. It was pretty much what I’m describing above, and it left me satisfied but also wanting more. Granted, we had already booked and paid for the full voyage by that point, but I’m fairly positive that day trip would’ve convinced me to do the full experience regardless.
To be sure, that will not be the outcome for many Star Wars and Walt Disney World fans. They will book the day trips because that’s all their budget allows, and no amount of saving or skimping will change the equation on that. The 2-night experience is simply too expensive for the vast majority of the park-going public–or not how they want to spend their limited vacation time.
That’s perfectly fine. Capturing a new audience is capturing a new audience, and the day trips would be a great pivot that offers a less expensive entry point into Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser while also maintaining its future financial viability. This alone would be huge, and keep the Halcyon operational for at least a few more years.
Ultimately, I really want to see Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser succeed. That’s why it was so frustrating to see Walt Disney World make changes that don’t fix the underlying issues, but instead allow it to circle the drain a little slower.
It’ll be interesting to see if the 30% off rate moves the needle enough with Annual Passholders. I suspect it will for many or most of these travel dates, providing a stopgap solution while a broader fix is figured out. If APs aren’t enough to move the needle, Floridians will be next, followed by Disney Visa Cardholders and (more) Disney Vacation Club Members. There are a lot of targeted offers that can be released to boost occupancy at Galactic Starcruiser before Disney resorts to offering aggressive general public discounts.
Frankly, I get why so many fans are frustrated by the Starcruiser and are openly cheering for it to fail. It was dumb of Disney to make this so exclusionary, both in pricing and appeal. There are dozens of ways Disney could’ve approached this so it didn’t alienate so much of the audience. Yet they opted against all of that and remain steadfast in their refusal to fix the underlying issues. In a sense, Disney will get what they deserve if Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser fails.
However, that’s not what the creative team behind the Starship Halcyon deserve, nor do the passionate performers who poured their hearts and souls into making these characters and the whole experience come alive. It’s also not what Star Wars or Walt Disney World fans deserve–and that includes those who have bashed it. There are so many fans who have done so out of justifiable frustration, but who would actually love the Starcruiser if given a chance to experience it.
At the end of the day, I don’t know if offering ‘day excursions’ to the Starcruiser in between full voyages would actually work or save the Starcruiser. But it’s certainly better than the alternative, which is trying absolutely nothing and hoping that it just magically becomes more popular even as pent-up demand is fizzling out and consumer spending is slowing.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is actually awesome, innovative, and a leap forward for the world of interactive storytelling. Imagineering created something outside the box that offered full immersion, interactivity, entertainment, and personalization in a highly-themed environment. It will be an absolute shame if more fans do not get to experience this, and if Disney scraps the millions of dollars in physical infrastructure and R&D. Walt Disney World needs to be as creative in fixing the current problems as Imagineering was in designing the experience–because there’s something special here, more people just need the chance to experience it.
Thoughts on Walt Disney World offering 30% off Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser for APs? If you’re an Annual Passholder, is this enough of an incentive to get you to book Starcruiser, or is it still too expensive? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and assessments? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!