Since the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort was announced for Walt Disney World nearly two years ago, not much visible construction progress has been made. However, the hotel has now gone vertical, and we went out to take a look at it over the weekend. In this post, we’ll share Star Wars hotel construction photos, permit details, plus rumors & commentary about this immersive experience that will seamlessly connect to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
We previously covered the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort Announcement, and there aren’t really new official details beyond what’s there. Walt Disney World has been pretty silent about the project, with the speculation being that specifics about the ‘show’ experience of the resort are still being finalized.
There’s also probably the matter of not wanting to drum up too much interest in a resort experience that will have incredibly limited capacity–the same reason Walt Disney World doesn’t actively market its VIP tours to the general public. This Star Wars hotel will undoubtedly have an astronomical 3-night fares that make Disney Cruise Line look like a bargain by comparison.
To answer a few questions we’ve received, the first thing to know about the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort is that its opening will not coincide with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That much should be obvious once you see the construction photos below. No date is set yet (we’re guessing 2021), but the resort opening after the land was always the plan.
Next, transportation. That ‘seamless’ connection has been one point of interest among readers, and with the hotel being built behind Star Wars Land, it’s almost certainly going to connect via shuttle rather than a unique form of transportation or pedestrian bridge. (This point is further corroborated by plans below pulled from permits.)
As with all the ‘windows’ in the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort itself, we’d expect the transportation to likewise have screens rather than windows. The commute between land and resort will be short, but it’s backstage. Views of the backside of Galaxy’s Edge show-buildings are unavoidable, but would really put a damper on the immersive nature of the experience here.
Even those points are speculation, but it’s at least semi-informed speculation. After the construction photos and permits, we’ll have even more speculation…
Cruising down Osceola Parkway, the Star Wars hotel construction site comes into view as you take the ramp to World Drive.
The backside of the land itself is more likely to grab eyes, as Batuu’s mountain spires rise above the treeline.
Here’s a wide look at the entire hotel from the ramp.
For months, this just looked like piles of dirt being moved back and forth (at least from the road–I’d imagine something was actually happening).
Now, work is starting to move along at a very brisk pace.
To my knowledge, all or almost all of this vertical work has occurred this month.
From here, the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort looks like it’ll be immediately adjacent to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
However, the photos are a bit deceiving in that regard…
Between Galaxy’s Edge and the resort is the old park entrance and Studios Drive, plus other backstage infrastructure.
In other words, the seamless connection won’t be a totally ‘airtight’ one.
Now for the hotel layout…
Permits uncovered by California Coaster Kings reveal more about the planned layout of the Star Wars hotel via detailed drawings of the hotel’s first floor. Above is a color-coded overview so you can get a general idea of the resort’s layout.
Note the arrival area, guest cabins, restaurants, shuttle area, and back-of-house facilities pictured there, as we’ll break-down each of these below.
Upon arrival, your vehicle will be valeted and your luggage will be scanned via x-ray machines while you go through metal detectors. This is new protocol for Walt Disney World, but it’s been standard operating procedure for the hotels at Disneyland Paris for the last few years.
I’m not wild about more security theater, but if this means not going through bag check when going to the park in this ‘seamless’ experience, then I’m fine with it. I’d hazard a guess that this would only eliminate bag check when entering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, though. Thematically, it should also have a TSA-but-for-space vibe as you prepare to board the starship.
After passing through security, you’ll enter into what appears to be a pre-show area, followed by elevators and another series of arrival rooms that we assume are part of the show experience.
It’s unclear whether there’s an identical second set of post-arrival rooms on the second floor, or if the elevator is part of the show, a la the Hydrolators from the Living Seas, and doesn’t transport anyone anywhere.
Adjacent to these show areas, there’s a large table service restaurant with a smaller buffet behind it. Across from the restaurants is a concourse with elevators (presumably the working variety) and stairs.
The first floor guests rooms are directly behind the elevator concourse. There are two sizes on the first floor: regular-sized cabins and first-class cabins.
There are only 34 rooms on the ground floor; we expect significantly more rooms on the second floor, for a grand total of around 100 rooms, but that’s still a really small number as compared to other resorts at Walt Disney World, many of which have over 1,000 rooms.
While there’s already been a ton of speculation as to what the resort will entail, nothing outside the permit-work is concrete. There are zero credible rumors about the substance of the experience; it’s all a slew of guesswork based upon reasonable inferences about what an experience like this might entail.
In terms of addressing other common questions, my guesses are that this conceptually is more akin to Disney Cruise Line than any existing resort hotels at Walt Disney World. I suspect there will be set 3-night ‘departure dates’ rather than fluid check-in and check-out dates as would be the case at a normal hotel.
Also like a cruise ship, I’d expect this experience to be far more self-contained. Like Disney Cruise Line on a day at sea, there will be entertainment programming scheduled throughout the day. Unlike that, this will be live-action role-playing with an overarching structure to the experiences.
You’ll also presumably be able to opt out and nap or visit the parks, but we expect a strong emphasis on doing things ‘on board’ the starship in furtherance of the immersive story you’re experiencing and creating. The storytelling will likely be weakened if too many guests opt to treat this as a traditional resort, or a place to sleep in between park visits.
To that end, I wouldn’t be surprised if Walt Disney World didn’t even use the word resort or hotel in the final name. Expect something like “[Starship Name]: A Star Wars Experience.” Maybe resort will sneak its way in there before experience, but the point is that Disney will want to emphasize the reality that this is an active, participatory adventure and not simply a hotel decorated with Star Wars stuff.
Again, this is all wild speculation on my part. The fact is that there’s a ton of fluidity to this project, and will be even once the Star Wars Starship Resort opens. 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 ‘pure’ experience with structured live action roleplaying plus minimal real world intrusions and the in-park experience as an afterthought. It’ll be aimed at the hardcore Star Wars fans who want something incredibly immersive and all-encompassing. And that’s what it’ll attract at first.
Over time, I would expect this to be diluted. 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. The latter group is far less interested in thematic and storytelling integrity, and more so in exclusivity and luxurious experiences.
Mind you, this is based upon literally zero inside information, and is entirely speculative. (Obviously, as it’s making predictions about changes over time.) The main takeaway–and something that’s almost always true with Disney–is that you should try to experience it as early as possible for the experience in a state of ‘pristine Imagineering’ before compromises are made in service of operational realities or guest feedback.
Also, something like this only goes in one direction price-wise, which is another reason to do it as close to its opening as possible. Even if the stay is [insert egregious, eye-popping amount here], you can rest assured it’ll be double that eye-popping amount a few short years after opening. This resort is incredibly limited capacity, and there’s more than enough demand for something like this to justify obscene pricing.
If you’re planning on visiting the new land, you’ll also want to read our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide. This covers a range of topics from basics about the land and its location, to strategically choosing a hotel for your stay, recommended strategy for the land, and how early to arrive to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition to Walt Disney World.
Will you try to stay at the Star Wars ‘Starship’ Resort? Thoughts on the construction progress? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the project? 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!