Walt Disney World is offering its first discount on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser resort experience (or however you prefer to categorize it)…sort of. This post explains the reason for the caveat, plus the ‘significance’ of the hotel being discounted less than a year after launch.
For those who “checked out” on Galactic Starcruiser after the eyepopping prices were released, we’ll quickly bring you up to speed. This is unlike anything Walt Disney World has ever done, an amalgamation of a bunch of different entertainment offerings. It’s not really comparable to a theme park visit or traditional hotel stay. Instead, think of it more like a cruise on land–as the name suggests–with all-inclusive (mostly) food & drinks and comparable programming. As a threshold matter, you should determine whether this is good fit for your party by reading our spoiler-free Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Review.
The nature of the experience alone will eliminate many families visiting Walt Disney World. Then there’s the aforementioned pricing, which makes it a total non-starter for many others–and explains a lot of the issues that’ll be discussed here (and what led to the discounting, in the first place). We paid $6,634.32 for a party of 4–or $1,658.58 per person. For more thoughts on this expensive pricing, see Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth the High Cost?
For those who haven’t been paying attention more recently, voyages aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser have now been released through Fall 2023. Fewer than half of the departures this holiday season are sold out, which is the busiest time of year at Walt Disney World.
Worse yet, there isn’t a single itinerary that’s sold out in 2023. Keep in mind that people generally book vacations–especially expensive ones like this–about 6 months in advance. Most people aren’t taking multi-thousand dollar vacations on a whim. It’s probably concerning to the company that this new experience with incredibly limited capacity already is not filling up.x
In the past, we’ve ‘defended’ this to a degree, noting that availability fluctuates a lot, and reminded readers that one reservation can be the difference between “sold out” and “available.” In short, all it takes is one cancellation or even a modification to different dates to go from available to not available.
This would still be a good point if that were what was happening with 2023 Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser bookings. It is not, though. We have heard credible reports that occupancy has been anemic this fall–with many voyages well below full capacity. We can’t speak to 2023 numbers, but between the wide open calendar and likelihood that this gets less popular, not more popular, over time…we can only surmise that things are already bleak. This is just one of a few problems we’ve heard about with the Starcruiser, but the only one that is pertinent to this post.
We’ve also indicated that it wouldn’t surprise us to see Walt Disney World not offer discounts for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser until mid-2023. This was our view even with low occupancy and the Hotel Halcyon falling below expectations, as it was a matter of optics to both Wall Street and consumers.
Releasing special offers within a year of the debut date doesn’t send a good message to investors and company analysts about the success of this costly investment. Disney may also want to maintain the appearance of a premium product–with commensurate pricing–to consumers. Discounting sets a precedent, and one that’s difficult to undo. That could explain why the first special offer is targeted to a subset of Disney superfans.
That brings us to the present, as Walt Disney World has released the first discount on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. Kind of.
Here are the details: Eligible Disney Vacation Club Members can enjoy 30% off original Points Chart values on select 2-night voyages. This offer can be booked with points or a combination of points and cash.
This offer applies to the following departures in the winter of 2023:
January 11 – 13, 2023
January 17 – 19, 2023
January 19 – 21, 2023
January 21 – 23, 2023
January 25 – 27, 2023
January 31 – February 2, 2023
February 12 – 14, 2023
February 28 – March 2, 2023
March 2 – 4, 2023
In order to take advantage of this special offer, Disney Vacation Club Members must be eligible for Membership Extras (in other words, you need a blue card). Points must be used to pay for at least one Member–a combination of points or cash may be used to book additional Guests.
Limit one cabin per membership. Cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts, is not transferable or redeemable for cash, and may be modified or withdrawn without prior notice. Reservation must be made prior to the last 4 months of your Use Year for stays during that Use Year.
Reservation is subject to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Terms and Conditions—which can be found on the Booking Confirmation Email received after booking—and the DVC Cancellation Policy. Offer is only available for standard cabins and not valid for suite accommodations. Offer dates are not guaranteed and are subject to change without notice.
A nonrefundable $95 transaction fee applies per confirmed Disney Collection reservation. You will receive a call requesting payment within 72 hours of completing your booking. If payment is not received within 72 hours following this call, Disney Vacation Club reserves the right to cancel the reservation.
The reason that we’ve appended the “kind of” and “sort of” caveats to describing this discount is because it’s not a good deal. Technically, this is 30% off the previous offer for Disney Vacation Club Members. So, as compared to that, it’s better offer. However, if resellers were to mark up Taylor Swift tickets by 3,000% and then reduce that by 30%, would it actually be a discount, or would it go from very overpriced to a little less–but still very–overpriced?
It’s a similar idea here–this deal is an illusion. Disney Vacation Club point charts for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser are absolutely exorbitant. They start at 295 DVC points per person, and that’s based on double occupancy. For those of you who aren’t DVC members, let’s put these numbers into perspective. A standard view studio at the BoardWalk Villas would cost 85 points for an entire week in May, versus 349 points (per person) for a weekend voyage at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
It’s basically the same cost to either stay at the BoardWalk for a month, or for one person to do a 2-night stay at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. But that won’t work, since the experience is double occupancy! For those couples who have daydreamed of living at Walt Disney World, you could do almost all of May and June at the BoardWalk for roughly the cost of two adults doing Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser on points.
Then again, you wouldn’t be able to get a BoardWalk view for that 2-month stay, so what’s even the point?! Although at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, you won’t have any windows at all. On top of that, the DVC point charts only increase during peak seasons.
However, this isn’t simply a matter of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser being subjectively overpriced when paying with points as compared to alternatives, as could also be said about the concept as a whole. It is also objectively overpriced when paying with points.
We won’t belabor the point too much here since this is something covered in exhaustive detail in our Best & Worst Uses of Disney Vacation Club Points, but using DVC points on any of the various “Collections” or anything other than DVC is a bad idea. Being able to use points elsewhere is an illusory Membership Extra–a selling point touted by salespeople that has no actual value. Always has been, presumably always will be.
If there’s no DVC availability or you want to travel somewhere else or stay in different accommodations, you’ll always come out ahead by renting out your Disney Vacation Club points and paying out of pocket for whatever the other thing is. That same advice holds true for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Even with the 30% off, you are still better off renting out those points and then paying cash to book the Starcruiser. (That’ll be doubly true if Disney has no other option but to discount Starcruiser.)
If you don’t believe us, we would still strongly urge you to do the math on renting out your points. You can either do it on your own via one of the forums/social media or via one of the major brokers. See just how significant the monetary spread is, and how much that’ll net. In almost every scenario, you’re going to come out way ahead by renting out those points and paying cash.
Every time we talk to DVC Members using points on Disney Cruise Line (which is all too often), we cringe a little. Points are not Monopoly money–they have real cash value and should be treated as much. Way too many members overlook this, or don’t want to “deal with” point rental.
Beyond that, there’s the other half of this that’s worth addressing, which is the potential failure of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. There are a lot of Walt Disney World fans who are actively cheering for the downhall of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. I suspect there are a range of reasons for this, from schadenfreude to spillover from unrelated guest-unfriendly decisions to generalized frustrations about Disney’s handling of Star Wars to perceptions of pricing.
Some of aspects of this I “get” even if I don’t agree. It was dumb of Disney to make this so exclusionary, both in pricing and appeal. It’s also unfortunate that there isn’t a way to do an excursion to the Halcyon (or something of that sort) to make the experience both cheaper and more palatable. 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 in a sense, will get what they deserve if Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser fails.
My issue is that there’s no good outcome for anyone at this point if Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser fails. If something like Genie+ or some other upcharge is rejected, that’s a good thing for guests. The company would be forced to backtrack on price increases, nickel and diming, or other cutbacks. Consumer pushback is perfectly healthy, and can result in improvements on those fronts or other offerings that can be easily changed.
That will not be the case with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which includes physical infrastructure that had over one hundred million dollars invested in it. Whatever “lesson” you think Disney will learn if this fails, I can assure you that won’t be the company’s actual conclusions.
The takeaway won’t be that they’ve raised prices too much or lost touch with the middle class. It won’t be that people don’t want Disney’s version of Star Wars. It won’t be that they should build more rides instead of expensive accommodations. The company already has broader market research about all of that, and those decisions will continue forward without regard for a niche product’s reception.
The lesson they’ll learn is to play it safe instead of swinging for the fences. Instead of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, we’ll get another half-baked version of Toy Story Hotel. For better or worse, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is an envelope-pushing concept that gave Imagineering tremendous creative freedom. This is one of the biggest risks that the company has let Imagineering take in a long time.
Imagineering created something outside the box that offered full immersion, interactivity, entertainment, and personalization in a highly-themed environment. If Galactic Starcruiser fails, the conclusion is going to be that guests don’t want immersion, interactivity, entertainment, personalization, or highly-themed environments. Presumably, those are things most people reading this do want, just not in this way or at this price point.
While I doubt the company will ever admit it, I would hazard a guess that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has already been deemed a failure internally. Its booking is convoluted and resource-intensive. Its operations are convoluted and resource intensive. It has generated a cottage industry of negative YouTube videos and think pieces lambasting the concept…pretty much since it was first announced. All of that for only 100 rooms. Even if they were selling out nightly at full price, that’s not a ton of revenue in the grand scheme of the Walt Disney Company…and it has had to endure a lot of headaches and bad publicity for that revenue.
The thing is, we also know that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is not selling out nightly at full price. Less than a year into this gamble, it’s already having a range of different problems, from demand to staffing. There are no easy fixes to any of this, due to the scale of the “hotel” and way it was constructed without key amenities. Obviously, the company isn’t going to issue a press release stating “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was a failure. We screwed up big time by building it, and not listening to the every whim of all-knowing fans.” However, we’ll have a pretty good idea that Starcruiser isn’t living up to expectations if they stop boasting about it on earnings calls and don’t clone the concept in California or anywhere else.
With that said, we really enjoyed our experience aboard the Halcyon. Once again, it is very taste-specific and not a luxury experience, but it may appeal to you. To read even more about it, consult our Guide to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. Pretty much everything else you might want to know is there.
Thoughts on Walt Disney World kind of discounting Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser for DVC Members with this 30% off (points) offer? What do you think about Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort? Would you rather do 2-nights here, or two months at the BoardWalk Villas? Will you be booking this with DVC points, cash, or not ata all? Would you prefer a more conventional hotel stay at a Star Wars-themed or decorated hotel? 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!