Walt Disney World is offering the first general public discount on combined resort hotel stays and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages. This post shares the details of the special offers, best dates to save the most money, plus sample pricing, commentary, analysis & other info. (Updated January 20, 2023.)
This is actually the fifth discount offer that Walt Disney World has released thus far in 2023. That’s on top of the special offers that were released last October for Spring 2023 travel dates, with an end result that 9 discounts are currently available. (Walt Disney World’s special offer page lists 14 different promos; some of those are things like ‘free shipping on shopDisney’ or military discounts that are offered every year.)
Suffice to say, there are many more discounts available than at the same time last year. If you’re looking for primary general public promos, there’s the “Free” Disney Dining Card Deal, which runs for the late summer through September 2023. For those traveling sooner, check out the up to 25% off room deal for Spring & Summer 2023. With that said, here are official details about the new Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser special offer…
Save up to $700 on a 2-night stay at select Disney Resort hotels when you book a select Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage from February 5 through September 30, 2023 — valid for stays immediately before or after your voyage.
With this special offer, you can extend your adventure — and pair a Walt Disney World Resort hotel stay with an experience that’s truly out of this galaxy. This offer is valid for the resorts listed below. View the chart to explore savings:
Purchase of a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser vacation package is required. The number of Resort hotel rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Offer not valid on select voyages—including those on the following dates:
February 16, 18 and 22
March 12 and 14
April 3, 7, 9, 11 and 13
May 3 and 17
June 12 and 16
August 9, 15, 19, 21 and 23
Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same Resort hotel room. Resort hotel stay must occur on dates immediately before or after the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage, but does not need to be on consecutive nights.
A maximum of 2 nights in a Resort hotel room maybe be booked with this offer. Cancelling the reservation for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will result in the cancellation of the Resort hotel stay and any applicable cancellation fees will apply. All Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser package components are only valid during the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage and cannot be redeemed during the Resort hotel stay.
In fairness (I guess?), those DVC point offers typically are a poor value proposition, yet members do them anyway for whatever reason. So offering a “deal” in name only is about par for the course there.
I’d have to call to price out this promo for up to $700 off combined hotel stays and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World, and there’s no way on earth that’s going to happen. Instead, I’ll just make some assumptions about what the discount should be based on known pricing.
In quickly perusing rate charts, it appears to me that the best place for taking advantage of this offer is Coronado Springs Resort. Even though it offers the lowest per night savings, it also has the cheapest rack rates–and the spread is larger on those than it is on the amount per night off. Note that I’m quicking skimming 2023 rate charts published last summer–it’s entirely possible pricing is slightly different when applied to packages booked today. Nevertheless, this should still be generally true.
Walt Disney World only publishes the rack rates for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser during the lowest point of the 2023 off-season, when it’s lowest price is $4,809 per voyage with 2 guests in a cabin. This actually is sufficient data for my purposes, as I always assess these discounts based on their best possible prices.
This makes my target dates for the trip the “Value 2” season, which occurs through August and September 2023 at Walt Disney World. For reasons beyond me, some of those August dates are blocked out at Galactic Starcruiser, so we’ll just arbitrarily choose some dates in September. Doesn’t much matter.
The above chart shows rack rates for a standard room at Coronado Springs Resort during those months. For the best pricing, let’s choose the $265 dates. Two of those, plus the $4,809 voyage aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser for a party of 2 comes out to $5,339 before tax.
Subtract $300 for this deal, and the total drops to $5,039. That amounts to about 6% off. Keep in mind that this is about as good as this deal is going to get. This is a flat-rate amount off, so larger parties will pay more for Starcruiser without seeing a corresponding increase in their savings–thereby reducing the percentage off.
It should go without saying, but this is not a good bundled discount when compared to Walt Disney World’s room-only deals or even the free dining card…or really anything. Assuming my math is correct (bold assumption), there are probably more scenarios where the savings are in the 3-5% off range than 6% off.
However, there is the reality that this is the first real discount on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The aforementioned special offers do not apply to it, so they’re not really analogous. If you remove the full price Starcruiser and compare the deals on a resort to resort basis, this discount is far superior for a 2-night hotel stay v. a 2-night hotel stay. The difference is the extremely large asterisk that a ~$5,000 or more Starcruiser stay is required for eligibility.
More analysis probably is not necessary. Those who were previously priced out of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser most likely are still priced out. From my perspective, this doesn’t really move the needle enough to make it attractive or reasonable, except for those who were truly on the fence, and planned on also doing a stay at one of the eligible resorts.
By contrast, if you already have a Starcruiser voyage booked–or were planning on booking something that falls within these parameters–this is your only special offer, and thus the best. Basically, this is a “good” deal for those individuals, but it shouldn’t incentivize new bookings, because the same is not true for just about anyone else.
For those who “checked out” on Galactic Starcruiser after the high prices were released, we’ll quickly bring you up to speed. This is unlike anything Walt Disney World has ever done, an amalgamation of various entertainment, eating, and other offerings. It’s not really comparable to a theme park visit or traditional hotel stay.
Think of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser 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?With international travel costing less and offering more due to favorable exchange rates, I’m now even less inclined to do Starcruiser again than I was back when that was written.
For those who haven’t been paying attention more recently, voyages aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser have now been released through Fall 2023. Aside from Presidents’ Day weekend, there isn’t a single date sold out in the next several months.
Availability does start to get spotty in July and August, but I have a very hard time believing all of those August dates are actually sold out. It’s unlikely that nearer dates that are busy (Spring Break & Easter) would somehow be less popular than the early Fall 2023 off-season. It does not pass the smell test.
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.
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 recently–with many voyages well below full capacity. It’s impossible to say whether that’s the case with forward-looking bookings, 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.
One explanation for August 2023 is that it won’t operate on all dates and is already going into “seasonal” mode. That would be a bombshell if true, and I don’t have anything to corroborate that. Still, reducing the frequency of voyages in the off-season does strike me as the most plausible explanation–especially in light of other issues.
With that said, I don’t want to get all conspiratorial. It’s also possible that refurbishments are occurring between voyages or that Imagineering is working on a new storyline to entice repeat visits. The former is plausible, but the latter strikes me as throwing good money after bad. One more likely scenario is that Disney is planning to debut ‘day trips’ in between 2-night voyages, and those dates are blocked out until that “new adventure” is officially announced. Offering that would be my pivot, as I think a lot of the script could be rewritten for 8-hour experiences that would be very attractive to some fans and significantly cheaper. (There is no way to turn this into a regular hotel, so that is not the play.)
January 20, 2023 Update: After publishing this yesterday, several readers reached out to us who either had their own Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages cancelled by Disney or who saw others report the same on social media. After reviewing the dates and details, it appears that every single date that is currently unavailable in July or August 2023 is not sold out–it’s a cancelled voyage.
Disney is reportedly calling guests affected by the cancellations and offering to move them to adjacent voyages at a 50% discount. In some cases, guests are also being offered a per night credit (that’s dependent upon the circumstances). Cast Members have not offered an explanation for the cancellations, other than that the Starcruiser is “unavailable for booking” those dates.
This does not conclusively prove that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is going seasonal due to lack of demand, but it suggests some sort of shenanigans are occurring. For one thing, if demand were high, it wouldn’t be possible to simply move all of the displaced guests into adjacent voyages. For another thing, if this were a planned refurbishment, it likely would’ve been scheduled in advance so Disney didn’t have to dish out room credits and 50% discounts as guest recovery.
Something is up, we’re just not quite sure what…yet.
That brings us to 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. (I know that I’ve written this many times before, but it’s still worth reiterating.)
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.
We 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 reduce the number of voyages per month, introduce day passes, or change up the storyline. 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? Will you be booking this special offer? What do you think is up with all of the blocked out August 2023 dates? Think Starcruiser is going seasonal, it’s a refurbishment, new story work, or day passes will be introduced? 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!