After announcing that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will permanently close in Fall 2023, Walt Disney World has shared additional details about discounts (or lack thereof) and what prompted the closure. This covers official statements and details, plus more commentary about the decision and whether you should do a last-minute voyage.
In case you missed it, the final voyage for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will take place September 28-30, 2023, according to Walt Disney World’s official website. This makes it one of the first cuts to be made and revealed before Disney’s new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2023. (Usually, these cost-cuts are announced a few weeks before the new fiscal year starts, but with the nature of Starcruiser, more advance notice was necessary.)
“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. This premium experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms, and we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our Guests and fans,” Disney shared in a statement.
The company’s statement continues: “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. Thank you to our Guests and fans for making this experience so special.”
Walt Disney World will be contacting guests booked for voyages departing on or after September 30, 2023 to discuss their options and modify their plans. To prioritize these guests with previously-booked reservations, Walt Disney World is pausing new bookings until May 26, 2023.
Prior to this announcement and the suspension of new voyage bookings, Walt Disney World had offered 50% off discounts for Cast Members, as well as 30% off discounts for Annual Passholders and Disney Visa Cardholders. There was also a special offer for $700 off Deluxe Resort stays booked as part of a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser vacation package. These discounts were available for almost all voyages between now and mid-September 2023.
All of these discounts have now been pulled from the official Walt Disney World website. According to the company, discounts will not be offered for the remaining voyage dates when bookings resume on May 26, 2023. However, guests who were booked on voyages after September 30, 2023 will have the opportunity to move to an earlier voyage at a discount of up to 50% off (h/t Scott Gustin).
This is somewhat unsurprising. Although Walt Disney World has had difficulty filling voyages even at 30-50% off, there has also been no sense of urgency among potential guests. Many readers here have indicated that they’re waiting for “better” deals or have been putting off Starcruiser for various other reasons. That will no longer be an option. Everyone who wants to do Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has a firm deadline of September 28, 2023.
Then there’s the reality that even Stitch’s Great Escape played to packed houses on its final day, and that was “only” its unofficial end. Ditto Ellen’s Energy Adventure, the random exhibits in Innoventions, and just about anything Walt Disney World has ever closed. There’s a certain truth to the saying that even unpopular attractions become beloved in extinction.
It’s also fair to point out that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is no Stitch’s Great Escape. While it has polarized the fandom and there are no shortage of people dancing on its grave, Starcruiser has a group of ardent adherents. Many of those who love it…really love it.
To that point, Walt Disney World released another statement emphasizing that the closure of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a “business decision” and not based on guest feedback. To the contrary, the company boasted that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is “unlike anything that’s been done before” and pointed out that it has received widespread praise and recognition throughout the themed entertainment industry, winning some of the industry’s highest honors.
The company also contended that it has received some of the highest guest satisfaction ratings in the history of Walt Disney World from the thousands of guests who have experienced it firsthand.
This is also not surprising. If you’ve read our variouspostsabout Starcruiser this year, you’ve probably seen the repeated references to its excellent guest satisfaction scores. Many of you didn’t believe this, presumably preferring the narrative that everyone hates it. And in the broader Star Wars and Walt Disney World fandoms, that’s probably true. The degree to which Starcruiser has inspired anger and contempt–rather than indifference–is relatively unprecedented.
However, we’ve also offered the important qualification that these scores only measure the guest satisfaction of those who have experienced Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. So if you’ve made dozen vlogs ranting about how much it sucks but have never done it, your opinion doesn’t count…officially.
Necessarily, the surveys are only taking into account the opinions of those who could afford to do Starcruiser, desired that type of experience, and were willing to spend the vacation time necessary to do it. There’s definitely significant selection bias at play, as the overwhelming majority 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–is not polled.
With experiences like this, there’s probably also a bit of confirmation bias. (We know that, for example, the most difficult ADRs have that issue. So it’s safe to say that the same is true here.) These were actually some of our big concerns when there were rumors that Starcruiser was going to see changes based on guest satisfaction surveys–the absolute worst way of revising the concept, aside from the option they actually chose (do nothing and hope for different results).
Suffice to say, Starcruiser is not comparable to something like Happily Ever After when it comes to guest satisfaction. Just about everyone who visits Walt Disney World can surveyed on the latter, whereas an exceedingly small number offer feedback about the former. To the best of our knowledge, Happily Ever After still holds the crown as having the highest guest satisfaction scores at Walt Disney World–but the incredibly large crowds and chaos to see it could be dampening those numbers a bit.
With all of that said, we’ll reiterate our advice about the remaining Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages from a planning perspective. You will likely have a chance to book it after the dust settles for voyages between now and the end of September 2023, as there simply are not that many people who will be willing and able to move their dates forward from October through December.
If you’re on the fence about doing Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, we highly recommend it. Not because you’ll have bragging rights a decade from now as one of the very few fans who experienced this limited time offering. (Although bragging rights are the key currency of the WDW fandom, it would seem.)
Rather, because Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is awesome. It is definitely not for everyone, but we think it’s more broadly appealing than some might assume. We are not LARPers. We do not have a particular affinity for the new trilogy or Disney+ shows. We are not even hardcore Star Wars fans. We are fans of Walt Disney World and themed design/entertainment, and this is a quintessential example of both, just wrapped in a layer of Star Wars. We loved it. (See our Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Review for an exhaustive and spoiler-free look at the experience.)
I have no issue calling out the many mistakes that Disney has made with this, but the actual experience of Starcruiser is not one of them. 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, and Starcruiser certainly joins the list from a “knowing your audience” perspective. However, when it comes to the substance of the actual experience, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is classic Walt Disney World and a true triumph of Imagineering.
Obviously, that’s easy to make this claim without reference to price–the fatal flaw in the Starcruiser saga. This recommendation presupposes that you are willing and able to spend that much time and money on this experience…and that’s simply not going to be true for the vast majority of people reading this. Hence it closing. For those who can potentially do it and are debating it, we recommend it. (For more thoughts on this expensive pricing, see Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth the High Cost?)
Ultimately, you have basically 4 months to step inside Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser before it permanently closes. If you’re debating doing it, you really should. If it’s not for you…well, it’s not for you. Again, that’s going to be the vast majority of people–the miscalculations that Disney made in bringing this to fruition are well-documented and we’re not going to relitigate those here, since they are now “confirmed” as being true with the closure news. That argument is settled; Starcruiser’s critics won.
Instead, we’re reiterating all of this again because there’s this pervasive sentiment that now through September 2023 isn’t actually the “last chance” to step aboard the starship Halcyon. There’s this misplaced trust in Walt Disney World to not abandon this completely and instead fix it and reintroduce it. In our view, that’s odd sentiment–especially when it’s coming from the haters.
Maybe the optimists here are right and Walt Disney World has a grand plan to repurpose Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and turn it into something for everyone. We highly doubt it, and certainly would not gamble on that outside chance. Not just for the multitude of reasons why Starcruiser isn’t viable as a regular resort, but also because Walt Disney World tries to save face whenever possible in announcements like this, rather than conceding defeat.
Over three years later, we still haven’t received official statements that the Mary Poppins ride, Spaceship Earth reimagining, Play Pavilion, or Reflections Lakeside Lodge are cancelled. Just that Walt Disney World is “re-evaluating” the plans. That’s an awfully long time for a secondary evaluation. If Walt Disney World had any intentions for potentially repurposing Starcruiser, the news of its closure would be softened with wiggle words implying that it has some future. They did not because it does not.
Thoughts on Walt Disney World permanently closing Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? Think the company will convert it to a regular resort, reopen it as something else, or abandon the building forever? Would you have preferred a more conventional hotel stay at a Star Wars-themed or decorated hotel? Do you agree or disagree with our 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!