Star Wars Resort Rumors & Construction Photos
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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!
The honest truth is we will stay at the hotel, at least once. Quite frankly, at $1000 per person per night for a two or three night stay we will do it …. at least once. It’ll be a hit to our fun budget and we will have to not do some other things but, if nothing else, I expect it’ll be an amazing experience. That said, if it isn’t amazing I’ll be quite put out.
I am really bummed that I will probably not be able to afford the Star Wars hotel. If they have a themed restaurant, perhaps I can splurge on this, as a way to see it. In addition, I am planning my next trip to Disney World for 2021, for the 50th anniversary, so there will hopefully be a lot of fun stuff happening, and I won’t care so much that I can’t afford a Star Wars immersive experience. Tom, do you have any inside info yet on what DW is planning for it’s 50th?
I completely agree with Tom’s perspective of this. While the high price and limited capacity of this experience will exclude the majority of visitors, so does the price and capacity of the bungalows at the Polynesian and villas at Grand Floridian. These differences in price points and exclusivity are found at resorts, cruise lines, etc all around the world. I’m betting the majority of people can’t afford the most luxurious suites and experiences at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas either, but yet it exists. I see no problem with offering this to the people that are interested and can afford it. It doesn’t affect my experience in the parks at all. Building an immersive, high price resort experience that I wont be able to afford (most likely) is fine by me! And I look forward to the blog posts and trip reports/photos from those that do visit.
I understand many people can not afford the penthouse, etc, but this has been marketed not just to the Club 33 crowd. Disney has been advertising and expanding heavily in every area from theme parks, resorts, company buy outs, streaming, etc, making it seem as if their loyal customers as well as the shareholders will profit, a win-win. However, as someone who has had the pleasure of staying at Atlantis and experiencing some of the finer things in life, I don’t want to be taken advantage of. You don’t build wealth by throwing your money away, nor do you enjoy your vacation when you feel like you are being taken advantage of. Just saying that if they want to offer something truly obnoxious, which they do, then they should start advertising it as such. I don’t expect to drive a Porsche, but I do enjoy my BMW. I feel like they have been a bit deceptive. Just mho.
Are you ready to donate and get paid $600,000
Instead of Universal doing a Harry Potter hotel, how about they stick it to Disney and do a Marvel experience. 🙂
Lol that would be super funny. 🙂
Well here we are again. This is a curious project for sure. On the one hand they want to allow people to access it but on the other if it is going to be as immersive as promised, then you have to limit the numbers. They also have to create a space that can potentially changed over time. When we did the VIP Star Wars tour at DHS this past Xmas, I asked a lot of questions about this project. I got the feeling, while they are pushing Galaxy’s Edge, they are not pushing the knowledge of this hotel. She said expect it to $500+ per guest, per night. They will obviously need to figure out how the story lines work. That is unlike a hotel where people are checking in and out on different days/times. Expect this like a cruise, 2-3 day experiences with defined check in and check out times. This way a family checking in does not find themselves in the middle of day 2 of a set themed story. It will be interesting to see how it all works. For the price point, they need to have: cast being on stage and in character pretty much 24-7, include wardrobe for the entire family, define roles to be played, themed food, themed purpose to your stay, high tech involvement to give you the sense you are on a starship (this can include some mechanism to make you feel like the ship is moving). If it is nothing more than a spruced up All Star resort with optional interactions, it will fail.
It is like going to Vegas. You stay in a variety of hotels/themes but know for people with more money than you, there are A LOT more options. e.g., Mansions behind the hotel with 24-7 butler service etc. We can probably categorize this experience in the same vein as those.
Happy times ahead.
I think this sounds really interesting. I’m mostly hoping that Universal follows suit with a Hogwarts immersive hotel experience. Now that I’d shell out the money for!
And coming shortly thereafter, “The Villas at [Starship Name]: A Disney Vacation Club Star Wars Adventure!”
DVC Death Star!
Lol you are very likely right
As complete Star Wars nerds, my husband and I would each give a kidney for an experience like this… But in all reality, barring a lottery win we’ll likely never get to set foot in this venture. Personally, I would have rather Disney had seen fit to build a value “hotel decorated with Star Wars stuff” that pretty much everyone could enjoy.
I’m sure that something akin to a “Disney’s All-Star Wars Resort” is somewhere on their to-do list and has probably been discussed at length in strategic meetings. But at this point, it seems they’ve committed to handling Star Wars as somewhat of an “upmarket” brand when it comes to guest experiences — most likely to try and achieve a synergy between the high production values of the films, the theme park areas (Galaxy’s Edge) and accommodations. The Star Wars brand has been long-diluted in many areas (toys and apparel, I’m looking at you) but I think Disney is trying to be careful with their Golden Goose.
When the CEO makes 68M, 1000 or 2000 daily is really chump change
I love your posts and this is my first comment. I do agree with your view, not all of us (including me) can afford to turn left when we walk into an airplane but we can all get to our destination, Disney is spending a lot of money to create a new land that all of us can visit. If there is a hotel behind the attraction that will cost them an arm and a leg to build, I am ok with missing out. Life isn’t fair and some can enjoy more than others, the same way I get to stay at the same resort as rich people but I don’t get a jacuzzi and a villa vibe. There is so much to Disney and at the end of the day they are running a business, if you had a shop and some people wanted to pay more for a private or more exclusive experience I bet any of us would cash in on that! At the end of the day the more money they make, the more they can invest on the parks, where most businesses raise their prices but are always looking at ways to cut costs and not invest.
Diego Sim I think you are spot on. This is no different from luxury boxes at a basketball or football stadium. My college in the SEC has luxury suites that sell for a cool million, and there is a waiting list. I have only seen them on a tour, so not likely to ever see a game there! But the money raised goes to pay for the stadium improvements and ongoing expenses, so the average fan can still afford tickets (barely). I applaud these projects as it does nothing to limit MY experience, and may (or may not…) help defer some other costs – or it may just make them buckets of money. I would just as soon Disney make buckets of money as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. The realization several years ago that the theme parks make great profits even in a recession has made Disney focus less on ESPN, ABC, etc. and more on the Parks and getting IPs so they can build more rides and make more movies (I am not that thrilled about the IPs aside from Pixar, but it is what it is).
And as a disclaimer, my daughter is a Disney employee and we are all stockholders (my daughter is in the college program working for a few bucks at Star Tours and we all have exactly 1 share of stock framed on a wall – heh, heh)
If there’s one company that has ownership of something as massive and adored as the Star Wars franchise, and they attempt something like this, then it better be done right and to the best that their means can achieve. Disney has this obligation and will hopefully, most-likely, deliver. It’s so unprecedented, and you’re right; we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out and evolves.
On another note, it recently struck me how unprecedented this project is, Galaxy’s Edge and accompanying Starship, when I bought issue #1 of the new comic book series that Disney/Marvel commissioned to give a backstory to the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. I bought it for my son, but yes, I read it too, and it was cute, very short; Totally plays to the audience that got so much entertainment from the original Star Wars, and the back-and-forth banter of two well-liked characters with a great dynamic. It introduces several characters that I’m assuming we’ll also see within Galaxy’s Edge. It also gives some hints to the food and beverages, shops and some shop details, and of course merchandise. If this all plays well, this whole world could potentially incorporate an ever-evolving and coinciding story line. The scale of it all blows my mind. And, I’m not even a Star Wars fanatic. I do admit that I’m looking forward to issue #2.
Thanks for update pics! And, cruise experience is perfect analogy.
I honestly think this experience is going to be more like $500-1000 per PERSON per night. So for a family of 4 people, it could be $2000-4000 per night. That’s just my guess. The hotel is going to be so small and the experience so inclusive that I would guess it will be prohibitively expensive for anyone except the very rich or people who have been saving for quite some time.
I agree that if you really want to experience this, you should do it within the first 6 months – 1 year that it opens because Disney will up the prices after that time. It’ll be a madhouse to get reservations once it opens, so you’d have to have a flexible schedule. I wonder if it will include FastPasses to rides in Galaxy’s Edge or something like that? For most guests who would be doing the immersive starship experience, one major bonus would be ease of experiencing Galaxy’s Edge as well.
Tom, I totally agree. I think the best analogy in your post is with the idea of cruising. Taking a cruise is quite expensive, but still within reach of a sizable chunk of the US population. However, if you want to upgrade to the “Adventures by Disney” version or go on the most high-end Port Adventures, those aren’t going to be as accessible for the wallets of “normal people”.
For example, there just aren’t enough dolphins and dolphin trainers in the Caribbean to allow every kid on a ship to have an up-close experience with a trained dolphin (not to mention that it’s very expensive to house dolphins, maintain their facilities, and pay dolphin trainers). So should Disney Cruise Line just not offer the option of dolphin encounters, since the price makes these out of reach for many people, and many kids will be disappointed that their parents couldn’t swing it?
It’s funny because the idea of pushing the boundaries of innovative, immersive entertainment — but asking the public to pay extra for the privilege of special experiences — is not a new trend at all, particularly for Disney. Anyone who thinks Disney intended all theme park visitors to get the same experience for the same price is likely unfamiliar with the concept of an “E-ticket”, “D-ticket”, etc., which were rolled out with Walt’s blessing.
Oops, this was intended as a sub-reply within the discussion below.
I want to go to this soooo badly.
Personally, I don’t think the price could possibly be too prohibitive. How much do you think it could be? Maybe $1,000 a night?
It would be a trip to Star Wars rather than a trip to the Disney parks. So rather than buying, say, 5-day park hopper tickets for everyone in the family, you buy 2 or 3 days (whatever they sell it at) at the hotel and 1-day tickets to HS. Right? So that’s roughly $1,500 versus maybe $450. That easily opens up another $1,000 to spend on the hotel.
I suppose the wildly wealthy would then transfer to another hotel to do the rest of the parks, but we all have to make choices in life. 🙂
When the CEO makes 68M per year whats a 1000 or 2000 daily charge. Peanuts.
I guess kudos for pushing the envelope in theme?
It’s highly unlikely (given the fan base) but I (kind of) hope this flops. 100 rooms and sky high prices, and Disney rolls out another product that’s not really affordable for “normal people”. Awesome.
It’s a bummer if you have kids that love Star Wars that this probably will be out of reach unless you are very wealthy (or so in love with the franchise you are willing to make some poor financial decisions).
I can understand that perspective, but I disagree. This doesn’t strike me the same as other blatant cash grabs that are about carving out paid upcharges within the existing park experience and creating two tiers of in-park guests. This type of hotel is necessarily limited in capacity, and if it’s as immersive as expected, it won’t be a cheap resort to operate.
Unless the price surprises me, we’re unlikely to stay here, but I think the ambition level here is commendable. I view it as being no different than fancy suites at Deluxe Resorts. I wouldn’t pay to stay in them, but their existence has no bearing on my experience in the parks.
I do hope the lessons learned from the Star Wars hotel are implemented elsewhere around Walt Disney World and (perhaps more likely) Disney Cruise Line.
If you are a passholder and want to stay at the Star Wars Hotel, I think they should give the passholders a special like they do for all there other resorts. (WE ARE ALL STAR WARS GEEKS)
My family and I have been passholders forever. My other problem is are they going to be able to accommodate people with disabilities.
Not that I can afford this pricey room, I would do it for the experience.
Are they going to send out updates to passholders FIRST when you can book a room.
Thank you for giving us this information.
I totally get what you’re saying about the expected price point, but I’m hoping Disney does limit the capacity to 100 rooms (or less) because that would make a high price point more acceptable to me. My main concern about this project has been forking over “all the monies” to come see the resort/experience and then being part of just one giant cattle call. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney offer a more affordable two-day visit each week (think check-in/check-outs of Fri-Sun; Sun-Tue; Tue-Thur; and Thur-Fri) to fill out a regular weekly schedule.
All great points.
Hard to articulate well in a brief comment to a blog, but I guess I was hoping for something achievable I could take my son to a) before he gets out of the age where this stuff is really magical to him and b) while he still really loves Star Wars.
While certain things within a Deluxe resort will never happen for us because of the cost, we could still save up and make that overall experience happen. As a bad example, while I would never fork out to do the private safari dinner at AKL, we could still find a “deal” and make a stay at AKL a reality, and my kids loved it. This kind of sets the whole experience out of reach. That’s maybe a bit of a bummer, but not even close to as infuriating as raising ticket prices 2x in one year :-).
i totally agree. i can’t even begin to imagine what this is going to cost. i like star wars, but come on…
For the price of a ticket into Hollywood Studios, any Star Wars fan will get a great experience. Disney Cruises are definitely not priced for “normal people“ – but they’re not shutting those down anytime soon. And surprisingly “normal people” find ways to get on those boats every day. I’ve known families who save for 10 years to take their family to Disney World. If staying at this new resort means that much to someone, then they’ll stop griping and start saving.
Drew, totally. I get what you are saying in your AKL example. For Dis Co. to make this inclusive for the mega-rich or “I like to throw my money away” crowd, is a huge letdown. I for one, hope this kind of immersion is not continued, if this is how it’s going to be delivered. I don’t mind saving up and snagging a great deal at a deluxe resort, even if I don’t get the same accommodations as someone staying at club level, getting a VIP tour, having a personal shopper and renting a yacht for my closest 20 friends. However, I would still get the overall experience of the dining venues, theme, character meals and special offerings that I chose to either participate in or look upon. IF it’s also true that you would not be encouraged to go to other parks and at the speculated costs, why would you?, then that is taking away some of the magic, not adding to it, imho. You wouldn’t just need to be a WDW fan, but a total Star Wars fanatic which may suit many, just not me. My take away vibe about this new place to stay from this article is that familes with children main competition to stay here may not even be from the well to do, but from the 40-55 year old Star Wars collector who is fulfilling his lifelong obsession or the cosplay crowd who would think nothing of spending $2000 on a costume.