Why Did Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Fail?

In a surprising move on May 18th, 2023, Disney announced that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will have its final voyage on September 28th-30th 2023. The Star Wars: Galactic Starcrusier is a 2-day hotel experience styled similar to a cruise in terms of pricing and allows guests to immerse themselves in the world of Star Wars through interactive role player game opportunities around the hotel, themed dining experiences, and Star Wars rooms.

Keep reading for our thoughts regarding this move by Disney and our own speculation on why the Starcruiser failed.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Final Voyage

Disney announced that the final Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage will be September 28-30th 2023. This is when the experience will officially close for good. Disney has already begun reaching out to guests that already had stays booked past that date to offer them the chance to rebook for another date. In fact, that final voyage has already sold out so it is clear many guests opted to be one of the last ones to experience this unique Star Wars experience.

New bookings will reopen for all guests on May 26th once all current guests have been rebooked. Guests that are being rescheduled are reportedly being offered up to a 50% discount to rebook during the summer.

However, any previously announced Star Wars hotel discounts have all been removed from the Walt Disney World website making it clear that any new bookings will not receive any additional discounts.

Disney Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, made it clear this decision about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was about cost, “It didn’t perform exactly how we wanted it to perform, so we decide to sunset it this September.” He went on to state that Disney expects about “$100-$150 million in accelerated depreciation” in the Q3 and Q4 Disney earnings as a result. The moderator clarified that these were per quarter. In other words, Disney will write off up to $300 million in accelerated losses this fiscal year on the hotel.

This is a fairly straightforward answer about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser from D’Amaro as he essentially came out and said the reason behind the decision was motivated financially. So that leads us to wonder…

Was the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Too Expensive?Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

One of the biggest critiques this experience received was the cost as this was a premium experience and ranged around $6000 for a family of four for this two-night experience. Even for just two guests staying in a cabin, the cost would only drop to about $5000 for a party of two. This is a hefty price tag for a two-day experience especially when you can book a week hotel stay at one of the Walt Disney World value or moderate resorts for around the same price or far less with tickets included!

What did the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience include? This is the full list of what the experience included:

  • 2-night stay in a cabin or suite
  • Ongoing, immersive and interactive entertainment, where choices determine your experience
  • Food and beverages on the starcruiser (excluding alcoholic and specialty beverages) and a quick-service meal at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo or other select locations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Dining which includes two (2) breakfast, two (2) lunch and two (2) dinner meals per Guest, with gratuity included for dinners; and one (1) quick-service meal consisting of one (1) entrée and either one (1) nonalcoholic beverage or, if age 21 or over, one (1) alcoholic beverage (where available), or, for Guests ages 3 to 9, one (1) combo meal from the children’s menu offerings, to be used in the theme park only.
  • Admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for your planetary excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
    • One day on day two of your experience
    • Includes one-time entry to both Rise of the Resistance (no boarding group needed!) and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Valet parking
  • Exclusive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser databand (Magicband)

So while this experience came with a large price tag, Disney included more than just the two-night hotel stay in the cost. Most of the negative reactions to the price tag often overlooked the rest of the experiences, included food, Hollywood Studios visit, and access to Rise of the Resistance which is often called the most popular ride at Walt Disney World.

You clearly did get more than just a two-night room stay with this price tag but some may argue that still didn’t justify the cost.

However, fans that did book the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser absolutely raved about this experience! Even Disney made this clear in their announcement by commending the efforts of the Imagineers and cast members that made this experience truly special for Disney guests. Usually when reading Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser reviews, the main negative commentary was about the price tag… usually from guests that did not experience it. Otherwise, most guests that did book a Star Wars voyage enjoyed their time and raved about its uniqueness.

However, despite the return on the value you received at this price, this was still a price tag that left this experience out of the hands of many middle-class families. These families are often Disney’s bread and butter and not many are going to come to Walt Disney World solely for this two-day experience. Families want to book an entire week-long vacation and adding a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience wasn’t always a sustainable option. Add in the current reality of a potential recession around the corner, the cost of inflation, and more this may just not have been the best timing for families. Luxury vacation experiences are not a top priority for many families right now.

Even for the diehard Star Wars fans, this price may have just been slightly out of reach. My family would have loved to experience the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser but the price was a barrier for us to have this experience unless we traveled to Orlando solely for the Starcruiser. Since the idea of skipping the rest of Walt Disney World for the Starcruiser wasn’t appealing, I still hadn’t created concrete plans to experience a voyage on this Starcruiser. And my family would be considered diehard Star Wars fans! It was hard to justify that cost for a two-day experience when we could have a week-long Disney vacation for about the same cost. I am sure my family is not alone in feeling that way.

The strain of filling this hotel was evident as we first initially saw Disney begin to contact guests to move them to other “voyages” in a move to consolidate guest bookings. This was a clear sign that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was not living up to its profit margins as it was a money-saving technique to have the maximum number of guests possible on these voyages and limit the number of times the experience took place entirely.

Then we saw the first round of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser discounts released and this did lower the cost if you utilized these although not by a large enough amount to make this within reach of the average family. Many people were also waiting for discounts to get released by Disney before making the voyage and this was a good sign we might see the price come down. But at the end of the day, this was a premium experience and targeted toward a very unique demographic of guests. An expensive experience, even with a discount, is still an expensive experience at the end of the day.

Now is the price worth the cost? For the many guests that experienced the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the answer was usually a resounding yes! For those that have not been on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, it’s hard to say. And that was a lot of money to invest without being sure if it was “worth it” especially with the amount of negative backlash Disney did receive in the fan communities towards the high price tag.

Should Disney Have Focused on the Original Trilogy?Star Wars Cruiser

Another common critique from Star Wars fans is that this experience focused mainly on the Star Wars “sequel trilogy” which included the films The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Rise of Skywalker. I have seen many comments from guests saying this was the main reason they did not book the experience and things would have been different if they instead focused on the classic Star Wars films featuring iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader.

While I would have loved that experience, I am hesitant to lay the blame at the feet of the sequels. There is a skewed perception in some corners of the Star Wars fandom that these sequels are universally hated. Disney knows this is not the case and that the average guest enjoys character interactions with Kylo Ren and Rey. We see this play out successfully in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. From a business standpoint, Disney is always going to promote what is most current and the recent Star Wars films along with the Disney+ Star Wars shows are the most current IP projects.

I believe that regardless of what Star Wars world this experience focused on that the cost was the largest driving factor in leaving the booking numbers below what Disney’s hopes were to make this profitable. If the price for this experience would have been dropped drastically, I imagine we would have seen these voyages stay consistently booked. But if Disney would have done this, then the profit wouldn’t have been there as this is clearly an expensive experience to run.

What Will Happen to the Star Wars Hotel?

The question we are asking now is what is next for this Star Wars themed building? Can Disney just turn this experience into a regular Star Wars hotel?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is small with only 100 rooms which in comparison to the nearly 33,000 rooms available at Walt Disney World is a nearly insignificant amount.

The building itself lacks theming on the outside as guests were “transported” to this themed experience and never saw the outside of the building aside from the main entrance. There is also the amount of construction it would take to modify this experience into a regular hotel as it is lacking a pool and additional experiences guests are accustomed to having during a Walt Disney World stay. The typical hotel at Disney includes pools, an arcade, laundry options, etc. so there would need to be a massive rehaul to bring it up to speed. And since this hotel would likely fall in a moderate or deluxe category, even more amenities would need to be added to put it on par with the rest of the hotels.

I would love to see the lively Star Wars restaurant featured in the hotel to be added to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In fact, the original plans for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Ege included a regular table service restaurant and not just Oga’s Cantina.

Regardless, only time will tell what will happen to the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The space will likely sit empty for some time until Disney decides whether it’s worth the investment to alter the project to something more sustainable.

Disney’s Creative Risk with Star Wars: Galactic StarcruiserStar Wars Galactic Starcruiser lightstaber training

Disney stated in their announcement regarding the final voyage that the “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.”

And this is true, regardless of if you are a Star Wars fan or not, this experience was truly a brave move in creativity. Disney continued on to say that “this premium, boutique experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms, and as we prepare for its final voyage, we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our guests and fans.”

I commend Disney, the Imagineers, and Cast Members for the work on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. It truly is an innovative experience and one that will live in the Disney history books. I imagine we’ll see this experience looked back on more fondly than much of the negative reception it receives now due to the price tag.

Disney voiced how proud they were of Cast Members and Imagineers and how they look forward to “delivering an excellent experience for Guests during the remaining voyages over the coming months.” I hope this move to sunset the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser doesn’t impair Disney’s decision-making to take more creative risks in the future. I hope we continue to see more experiences like this but perhaps in a way that is more attainable for the majority of fans.

If you want to book a voyage on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, final bookings will reopen on May 26th. I expect we will see an online queue for these bookings and long wait times on Disney’s phone line.

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About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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1 comment add your comment

  1. A shame they couldn’t open up the experience for their general admission public. You know, let them ‘journey’ there via the park and explore the ‘ship’.
    I bet if they did a whole Haunted Mansion themed regular hotel, it would be booked solid.

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