Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is the most highly-hyped new hotels coming to Walt Disney World, opening behind Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. This post covers everything you need to know–the latest on when the spaceship “Halcyon Hotel” will open, pricing, concept art, plus potential delays & changes (Updated May 4, 2020.)
Let’s start with the elephant in the room–the current closure of Walt Disney World, which has led to the stoppage of all construction. This will inevitably lead to delays on virtually every upcoming project including new rides, restaurants, and resorts. In some cases, those will be commensurate with the length of the stoppage. In other cases, the delay will be disproportionate.
This is in part because Disney is hemorrhaging money, with the parks losing over $30 million dollars per day that the parks are closed. It’s also in part because things will be different when Walt Disney World does reopen, both in terms of health and safety protocol and in how consumers will spend money in the wake of a recession. Perhaps no project will be impacted as much as Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort…
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort has a couple of things going against it. First, the nature of the experience. It’s taking place largely inside a confined space with no windows or outdoor spaces as guests interact with one another in close proximity to each other as part of a live action role-playing game. That should raise some red flags, and may not be exactly what the general public is clamoring to experience in the next few years.
Second, as the pricing section below indicates, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is expected to be incredibly expensive. This was not a huge issue when consumer confidence was soaring and the economy was booming. Flash forward a few months and both are tanking. Simply put, guests will be more apprehensive about spending big bucks on hotel stay.
These two issues are also interconnected. Part of the reason Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort will be expensive is because of its operating costs. Entertainment, Cast Members, and the experiential nature of the resort as planned will be crucial, and all of that contributes to it costing more.
As we note below, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is/was a bold, ambitious, and risky project from the start. It’s always been unclear what the market is for such an immersive and all-encompassing hotel experience, and that’s doubly true going forward. It thus might be prudent for Walt Disney World to scale back some of the more ambitious and costly elements of the hotel, and debut something that costs less for guests–and less to operate.
The other alternative is simply hitting pause on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort, waiting out an economic recovery and allowing potential guests to once again be more comfortable in confined, window-less spaces. That’s also a plausible path forward, especially if Imagineering has already spent a ton of money on R&D, or building the physical props and other tech that will be utilized inside Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort.
Suffice to say, there have been plenty of unknowns about this hotel since it was announced, and there are even more today as we wait to see what Walt Disney World’s next move will be with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. It’s safe to say that much of what we previously knew and share below is highly subject to change…
Now, the basics and answers to frequently asked questions about what this immersive starship hotel experience will entail–if it actually ends up opening as planned. For now, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is slated to offer a two-night itinerary where all guests arrive and depart at the same time, similar to Disney Cruise Line.
Unlike DCL, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort will put guests in the center of an interactive adventure that they control. Think of this as a hybrid between a live action role playing game and the all-inclusive resort hands-on ‘enrichment through entertainment’ experience of the Disney Institute. While Disney has tested similar concepts before, this is envelope-pushing in terms of its scope and level of immersion…
The adventure begins when guests arrive at the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Terminal at Walt Disney World and check in for their two-night experience. Guests will then enter a Launch Pod for transport into space. Through windows, they’ll see themselves leave Florida behind, jumping into hyperspace and drawing closer to the Halcyon, which is the starcruiser they’ll call home for the next two nights.
When the Launch Pod docks with the Halcyon and the airlock opens, guests will step into the ship’s main deck Atrium to begin their journey through a galaxy far, far away. A visit aboard the Halcyon becomes a multi-day story that interweaves with members of the crew, other passengers, familiar Star Wars characters, and an excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
During their all-immersive experience aboard the Halcyon, guests will be invited to delve deeper into their personal adventures by participating in onboard activities, interacting with characters, crew, other passengers they meet, and becoming part of the action.
Some of these activities will include wielding a lightsaber and facing off against a training remote, visiting the starcruiser’s Bridge to learn about ship systems and how to operate them, and operating the starcruiser’s navigation and defense systems–skills that will come in handy during a journey through this adventure-filled galaxy.
Guests will be able to explore the Halcyon and discover hidden spaces deep in the mechanics of the ship–like the Engineering Room, which is perfect for uncovering secrets or holding secret meetings. Another interesting spot is the Silver C Lounge, where guests of all ages can enjoy libations and games in a stylish setting.
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort will look like an industrial bunker (or whatever you think the above looks like), and not an actual starship. When you enter the hotel, you’ll only be seeing the terminal and Launch Pod, not the Halcyon itself. There’s concept art for the starship Halcyon, but the physical building will not resemble that. Any representations of the Halcyon from inside the hotel will be simulated.
Additionally, there are very few guest rooms in the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. The exact number of is not known, but construction permits and plans indicate roughly 100 rooms total. That should make for an intimate (and in-demand) experience as compared to other resorts at Walt Disney World, many of which have well over 1,000 rooms.
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is physically located backstage behind Disney’s Hollywood Studios near Cast Member parking and the show buildings for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. However, every window in the Halcyon, including those in each guest cabin, has a view into outer space, with ever-changing vistas as the ship progresses from place to place.
Although nothing is official, our expectation is that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort will not be open for the general public to visit. This is unlike any other hotel at Walt Disney World, and even the DCL comparison doesn’t do it full justice. A docked ship that would have amenities and facilities that overlap with a standard hotel, but this won’t have things like a pool, spa, tennis courts, or literally any outdoor recreation options.
The Galactic Starcruiser is probably more like a long-form, multi-part attraction or on-board cruise excursion. Think of it along those lines–it’s an immersive experience…that’s so long it offers a place to sleep, too. The resort won’t offer anything to do for non-guests, who will only get in the way and break the illusion. As such, it’s hard to imagine Walt Disney World allowing visitors to the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort.
With some basics about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort out of the way, let’s cover the opening date, when reservations will open, anticipated pricing, and other questions about the Star Wars hotel that we’ve been receiving from readers…
As of right now, all Walt Disney World has stated in terms of an opening date for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is sometime in 2021. There is not a specific date or even a target season beyond that.
We drive by the construction site for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort every few days (not intentionally, it just happens to be right next to an overpass we use with frequency) and the exterior work looks like it’s nearing completion. Visible construction has been moving at a brisk pace over the course of the last year.
If this were a normal hotel, we’d have every reason to believe it could open in late 2020, or early 2021 at the latest. However, that is absolutely not the case with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. For one, the exterior is basically just a plain show-building. Aside from the porte-cochère, the rest of the exterior won’t be visible to guests. It’ll be concealed with trees and other cloaking devices. (Remember, the hotel doesn’t have actual windows.)
In other words, visible progress doesn’t mean anything–other than the fact that Disney is devoting significant construction resources to finishing this ASAP. The reality is that this is very different from a normal hotel, and a lot of work plus testing & adjusting will need to be done inside the resort before its ready to blast off into a galaxy far, far away.
As we’ve seen recently with the Space 220 Restaurant, which is another technology-heavy project, troubles with tech and construction can lead to delays in opening. That restaurant has had its opening date slip several times now, and that’s for a largely passive experience with screens offering views into outer space. The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is much more ambitious, has more moving parts, requires the seamless integration of screen-based technology & physical effects, and will also require a lot of Cast Member training.
In other words, it’s way too early to offer estimates about an opening date for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort, and visible construction progress is absolutely no basis for such predictions, anyway.
In February 2020, Walt Disney World teased that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort reservations will open “later this year.” A more specific timeframe as to when is anyone’s guess, but it’s worth noting that Walt Disney World typically releases vacation packages for the following year in mid-June. For example, 2020 packages were released last year on June 18.
This does not mean that reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort will open on that date–or the same date as the rest of Walt Disney World’s vacation packages. More likely, the reservation opening date will be dictated by construction progress and an internal projected opening date. Disney will want to be conservative with this, and have reasonable certainty of meeting that opening date.
If the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is something that interests you, we’d highly recommend booking it ASAP when reservations open. This is for a couple of reasons. First, prices are likely to go up–Disney rarely decreases prices. Second, this is an ambitious and envelope-pushing idea, and when it opens will be in a state of ‘pure & pristine’ Imagineering. Compromises and changes are likely to be made in service of operational realities, changing demographics, and guest feedback.
This is all speculation on my part. However, this is a truly unprecedented project for Walt Disney World, and iteration is likely to continue based upon guest feedback and behavior patterns. My guess would be that this begins as a thematically ambitious with structured live action roleplaying plus minimal real world intrusions. It’ll likely be aimed at the hardcore Star Wars fans who want something incredibly immersive and all-encompassing. And that’s largely who it’ll attract at first–Star Wars zealots and other hardcore fans who save or splurge on this.
What the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort evolves into depends in large part upon both the effectiveness of Disney’s messaging and potential guests actually listening to marketing. Walt Disney World is already stressing that this is not a typical hotel stay, but that doesn’t mean people will hear or comprehend that.
Ultimately, I would expect the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort experience to be diluted after its first year or so. The primary demographic will shift from hardcore fans making a big splurge to affluent guests wanting their first visit to Walt Disney World to consist of the very best of everything–basically, rich parents with kids who enjoy Star Wars. The latter group is far less interested in thematic and storytelling integrity, and more so in exclusivity and luxurious experiences. Over time, Imagineering will iterate on the concept so it comports with guest feedback and expectations–even if that means changes for the worse.
The short and simple answer is that Walt Disney World has not announced official pricing for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort yet. Even once rates are released, there is nothing to say those are what guests will actually end up paying. With Disney Cruise Line, prices often increase after the opening day for booking itineraries. With Walt Disney World hotels, discounts are offered that render rack rates somewhat meaningless.
Since Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort was announced, there have been numerous rumors on pricing. Given that some of these began to appear several years ago, you should take all of these numbers with a huge grain of salt. Walt Disney World will charge what the market can bear. That amount will be derived from numerous factors, including some external to Disney (like the US economy and consumer confidence).
Yes, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is going to be incredibly expensive. That much is a given, especially with 2-night itineraries. If you want the likely price floor for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort, look no further than pricing for 3-night Disney Cruise Line itineraries…then double it. (This could very well start at over $3,000 per person.)
Another thing to consider here is that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is essentially a boutique hotel. This will not have many rooms, meaning that the price-points here will be driven by supply as much as demand. Whereas Disney Cruise Line has multiple ships with tons of stateroom inventory, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is one hotel with a small supply of rooms.
Scarcity is going to be a huge factor. Some have derided this as a hotel or experience for the top 1%, but that’s actually not accurate. On any given day, less than .01% of the guests at Walt Disney World will be staying at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort. This isn’t to say it’ll only appeal to the wealthy…just that an infinitesimally small number of Walt Disney World’s overall guest population will be staying here.
There are enough diehard Star Wars and Disney fans with large amounts of disposable income. Look no further than the prices Savi’s Workshop for Handbuilt Lightsabers is able to charge for that experience due to its incredibly limited capacity. This resort is similar to that, but with a more elaborate and involved experience. These fan demographics alone will push prices even higher, at least for the first couple of years that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort is open.
What do you think about the addition of a boutique Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort to Walt Disney World? Will you be booking this, regardless of cost? If not, what’s your maximum per person price-point for this experience? 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!