A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…Disney announced that it would be building a Star Wars hotel experience called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser!
The “Star Wars hotel” is more of a cruise-type experience where guests will stay aboard a “spaceship” for 2 nights and participate in all kinds of activities including lightsaber training, operating the ship’s defense systems, meeting Star Wars characters, and more. Reservations were set to open in 2020 (but they didn’t) and the hotel experience is set to open in 2021. But, if Disney does open the Star Wars hotel this year, a few things could go wrong. Today, we’re breaking that all down for you.
What is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
Before we dive in, we want to give a quick summary of what Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser even IS. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen from Disney before, so this is uncharted territory for guests! As we mentioned, we typically call it the “Star Wars hotel,” but really this experience is more like a cruise. Guests will be transported via a “Launch Pod” to the Halcyon (the name of the starcruiser you’ll be boarding for your trip) for a 2-night adventure.
There will even be space bunks!!
While on the ship, guests are supposed to be able to do a number of things including interact with Star Wars characters…
…train with a lightsaber…
…operate the ship’s defense systems…
…sneak around areas and have secret meetings with other characters…
…potentially take an excursion out to Batuu, and even eat in cool areas, like the Silver C Lounge.
Essentially, if you’ve ever wanted to be FULLY immersed in the Star Wars world, and truly live out your own unique Star Wars story — this is the place to be.
Previously reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser were set to open in 2020. Reservations have not become available yet. The hotel is set to open in 2021, although we’ve shared our thoughts HERE on whether a 2021 opening is still likely. If the Star Wars hotel does open in 2021 though, quite a few things could go wrong or at least not go as originally anticipated.
You Might Not Get the Full Experience
This is probably one of the BIGGEST things that could go “wrong” if the Star Wars hotel opens this year — some of the unique experiences guests were supposed to be able to enjoy in the hotel could be significantly modified or entirely removed.
Based on the concept art and the descriptions, many if not all of the experiences that are meant to be part of the hotel involve a lot of personal interaction between guests, Cast Members, Star Wars characters, and other passengers aboard the ship. All those things like secret meetings, character interactions, etc. seem to involve heavy, personal, and up-close interactions. You know… those same kinds of interactions you haven’t had in the past year+!
Several of the activities also involved hands-on experiences like lightsaber training (which would presumably include lightsabers that all guests would touch and share), as well as areas on the Bridge that all guests would touch to operate the ship’s defense systems.
Depending on how the situation with the global pandemic evolves, many of these experiences would likely either need to be heavily modified or removed entirely as they involve sharing high-touch items/areas and close interaction that wouldn’t necessarily allow for social distancing.
The removal or modification of these experiences isn’t necessarily something that would “go wrong” in and of itself, BUT if guests experience the hotel under these modified circumstances and are displeased, then that could go badly. Key things may just be missing from the entire experience out of necessity to keep guests and Cast Members safe.
And there may be lots of required signage about COVID-19, social distancing markers, etc. that could throw people out of what is supposed to be a super immersive Star Wars story. Especially because Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has been slated to be an experience unlike anything else and has been built up to be such a big deal, heavily modified or removed experiences could really impact guests’ satisfaction.
If the price for the experience is also quite high (which many of you expect it to be!) — and the experience is significantly modified — people could be extremely upset if it doesn’t live up to their expectations. Guests might also be upset if they feel like they aren’t getting the proper value out of what they’ve paid OR if they feel like there is not enough to do there if so many things are removed or modified.
In February of this year, Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted that the expectation is to have some level of mask-wearing and social distancing in Disney World through the end of this year.
Of course, the situation with the pandemic has continued to develop as more vaccines have been distributed, and Dr. Fauci has indicated that COVID-19 guidelines could loosen by early July. But, there’s still much that has not been shared (or is somewhat unpredictable) when it comes to the situation with the pandemic and how much social distancing will be required as time moves along.
Assuming that some kind of social distancing will be required throughout this year, this could impact guests’ experiences at the Star Wars hotel. If social distancing must be maintained on the Halcyon, it’s possible that will create VERY LONG lines for any experiences that must be modified to keep distance between guests. And, the lines themselves will need to be distanced too, making them even LONGER. The lines could potentially stretch throughout a LOT of the ship.
In Disney World, we’ve seen lines extend FAR, FAR away from the entrances to their designated rides. We’ve even seen lines extend so far that they spill into other attraction spaces or even have to be extended to backstage areas. We’ve also experienced times where these extended queues, combined with tight walkways and guests trying to get past, have created a rather uncomfortable crowd scenario.
There’s a lot of space in Disney World where you can spread out those lines, so that gives the park more flexibility. But, on the Halcyon, that likely won’t be the case. Space in the Star Wars Hotel is really limited to what’s available there, and we have a feeling the Imagineers who designed it years ago weren’t even THINKING of social distancing since that really wasn’t a word we used a lot in our daily vocabulary.
They likely would have accounted for some lines — but lengthy, spaced out, socially distanced lines? Unlikely. The experience is definitely much more exclusive than staying at an average Disney World hotel but it’s not like only a handful of guests will be there at any given time. And it’s not as though you can just open a backstage door and extend the queue to the outside areas — that would completely throw off the “story” that you’re on a starship in space.
The combination of limited space and socially distanced lines could mean that parts of the ship might be extremely tight if there are long lines stretching through various spaces. It could also just throw off the story to see these lines stretching FAR beyond where they’re meant to be.
To combat this concern, Disney could implement some kind of virtual queue (like what we’ve seen in some of the international parks) or even use a Rise of the Resistance-style boarding group system for some of the experiences. But, again, if guests are unable to experience the things they want to due to these capacity constraints, and they still have to pay a pretty penny to get in, that could cause some serious guest satisfaction issues.
Potentially Not Enough Demand
Guest demand could also be a concern if the Star Wars hotel opens this year. Galactic Starcruiser is meant to be a cruise-type experience — where everything is basically self-contained in one location. It seems like there really won’t be any outdoor experiences (makes sense since you’re supposed to be on a ship in SPACE), except a potential excursion to Batuu.
But, due to this cruise-type setup limited (story-wise) to all indoor structures, there are a few things that could potentially go wrong. One is guest demand. Some guests may not feel comfortable being in a smaller, enclosed space. So, even if the hotel opens this year, some guests might not be ready to experience it.
According to some recent information displayed on the Visit Florida website, using data from The Harris Poll, 23% of those polled said they would feel comfortable staying in a hotel immediately after the pandemic ends, 13% say they’d feel comfortable after 1-30 days, but 11% say they wouldn’t feel comfortable until 1 year or more after the end of the pandemic.
When it comes to cruises, however, the numbers are much worse. According to the poll data, 14% said they’d feel comfortable taking a cruise immediately after the pandemic ends, 28% said they’d feel comfortable after 1 year or more, and 14% said they’d NEVER feel comfortable taking a cruise again.
The situation with the pandemic is still developing. More individuals are becoming eligible to receive the vaccine, but the pandemic has not yet officially ended. As the New York Times data shows, new cases continue to be reported. And we even saw another COVID-19 variant recorded in Florida not too long ago.
So, if the Star Wars hotel opens this year, and it is in fact (as it is meant to be) an immersive cruise-like experience, it stands to reason that many guests might not feel comfortable booking it yet, at least based on this poll data.
Aside from all poll data, there’s also the pure consideration of price. The pandemic greatly impacted a large number of people. Many lost their jobs during the pandemic or are simply in a tighter spot financially than they were before. An expensive cruise-type experience might have been financially feasible for some families prior to the pandemic, but it may now be entirely out of the question. If the Star Wars hotel experience is very expensive (as it is expected to be), then many simply might not be able to afford it, again potentially driving down guest demand.
As we mentioned, from what we understand, Galactic Starcruiser and its activities seem to take place entirely indoors, save for that potential excursion to Batuu. Like a cruise, everything appears to be essentially self-contained.
Even with distancing and other safety measures, having a large number of guests all in a small, indoor area with lots of high-touch experiences can just naturally increase the potential for some health risks (COVID-related or otherwise).
This risk of infection is one that would generally be there regardless of the pandemic, but with COVID-19, it’s just heightened.
The CDC currently has cruise ships listed at a Level 4 risk warning. At the moment, the “CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships…because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.” The CDC notes how “cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.”
If the Star Wars hotel is basically like being on a cruise, it might, in effect, have the same type of warning level or concerns. That could cause some individuals to be more hesitant to visit.
The Reservation System Could Be…Less Than Great
Reservations for the Star Wars hotel were set to open in 2020. Spoiler: they didn’t open then and still haven’t opened up yet. We’ll be honest here, we’ve seen Disney’s reservation systems not be the best when it comes to high volume.
It happened with Park Pass reservations when they first started, and Lamplight Lounge reservations, and even ticket sales for “A Touch of Disney” and Disneyland. Anyone else just a little TOO familiar with Disney’s error or loading screens?
We’ve talked about all of the reasons why some guests might not want to visit the Star Wars hotel, but other guests might absolutely JUMP at the chance. Considering that people have been waiting for this experience for a while, there are quite a few Star Wars fans out there (“quite a few” being a SEVERE understatement) and the fact that Disney has really been hyping it up as something SUPER unique, there could be significant guest demand for the hotel (despite the concerns we brought up earlier).
Capacity is naturally limited by the number of rooms available on the starship. If social distancing is still being enforced, which appears to be likely, then capacity could be even FURTHER limited. High demand (at least from some guests) coupled with limited capacity = reservations that will potentially be harder to get than the toughest Disney world restaurant reservations!
Reservations could sell out VERY quickly or the system could crash. There could be a LOT of frustrated people who might be very upset that they couldn’t get a reservation.
Now, that’s something that could happen during any year that the experience opens, so it’s not specific to this year necessarily. But, if Disney doesn’t take steps to try to create a reservation system that is able to handle a higher demand soon, it could be a big issue.
This Ain’t a Hotel Folks!
One of the biggest things that could be an issue is the fact that this IS NOT A HOTEL!! While we call it the “Star Wars hotel” casually, as we’ve discussed above this is really a cruise-type experience. This is really important to understand.
You’re really not meant to leave the Halcyon (except to go to Batuu). To get the full experience, you’re supposed to stay there and take advantage of all of the unique experiences on the ship and stay immersed in the story. This is NOT a hotel you drop your bags off and hit the parks with your family!
First, Disney needs to make sure that’s really well explained to guests. If guests don’t understand this, they could get confused and expect to spend a whole day at Magic Kingdom with tickets they’ve purchased and just come back to the Star Wars hotel at night, and that’s really not how it’s intended to be. Again, that could be an issue any year, but we did want to mention it here.
Second, if Disney opens up the hotel this year, right near the 50th anniversary celebrations, guests may want to leave Galactic Starcruiser to see the decorations, unique lighting, etc. that’s all being done for the 50th. Those guests could just add on days to their stay at a normal hotel to do that, but that might be out of budget. Or guests will have to likely deal with a split-stay scenario, meaning they book essentially two different hotels (Halcyon and another Disney hotel, for instance) and transfer when their first stay ends. So, they might try to squeeze it all in and then end up feeling dissatisfied with their Star Wars hotel experience because they wanted to be cruising around the other parks or free to explore Disney World as they see fit.
May the Technical Difficulties Be With You
And finally, we couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning technical difficulties. This is not specific to Galactic Starcruiser opening up this year, but really just applies to when things first open up in general. Galactic Starcruiser looks like it is going to require a LOT of new technology to make you truly believe you’re in space.
In those first few months, when the new technology all gets used heavily for the first time, things can go wrong. Just look at Rise of the Resistance and other technically complex rides in Disney World — those can often be temporarily shut down or evacuated due to technical issues.
Disney will likely still be working out some of the issues for a little while after the hotel first opens. That could cause some serious problems if big experiences are unavailable for a significant period of time during people’s stays, considering that again this is meant to be a self-contained adventure with only so many things to do. It’s not as though Disney can just send the hotel guests to 20 other rides if the lightsaber training doesn’t work for 4 hours. That could be a problem.
Overall, there are quite a few things that could go “wrong” if the Star Wars hotel opens this year (and some things that could go wrong any year it opens). But, there are also a lot of things that could go GREAT. The question really is — will the Star Wars hotel open this year at all? We’ve shared our thoughts about that in a separate article that you can read HERE. But, we are on the lookout for more updates and will let you know what we find!
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If the Star Wars hotel opened this year, would you visit? Tell us in the comments!