What will it be like in a Star Wars Resort?

by Todd King, contributing writer
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The sign over the entrance arches to Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom read: "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." It is a pleasant greeting to know you're leaving your worldly troubles for a while. But at the end of the day, when you leave the park through that same tunnel, is the magic over? With themed hotels and monorail rides, the magic isn't gone completely.

What about after that? When you get to your hotel, you are in a different mode of being—that of settling down and resting. If you're staying on Disney property, the resorts offer the same creature comforts you need from most hotels like beds, swimming pools, and ice machines. But the resorts on-site are a bit more fun than your average inn. From the décor of the Disneyland Hotel to the island getaway of the Polynesian, there's still quite a bit of magic. The amenities and surroundings still make you feel like you're away from that pesky workaday outside world, and yet, there is still a line drawn from the experience inside the berms of the parks to the lobbies of the hotels.

For Galaxy's Edge, I think a welcome message could read: "Here you leave today and journey to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." But what happens when you leave? Disney is making a Star Wars-themed resort that I presume will be near the park, still within the auspices of Batuu. This resort is the final piece of the puzzle in Disney's intention to create a full immersive Star Wars experience.

Early in development of the new park expansion, at a time when there wasn't much official news about the land, I speculated how far the Imagineers could take the idea of a truly immersive visit:

"Maybe you're sent on a mission to meet a certain character at a certain place and time, and they give you the next clue, reward, prop, or simply a Fastpass to one of the rides, or even getting a coupon for a free glass of blue milk at the cantina. Maybe if you fulfill enough of your mission, you are part of a stage show at night or get to participate in some event." [Source]

I wasn't thinking big enough. This was just some ideas about getting a few perks in the park—nice perks though they would be. I considered the idea of immersion itself and how that works in the surroundings:

"The immersion [in Galaxy's Edge] would be all around us from the sidewalk, to the park directional signs, to the vegetation, to the walkways, and to the "people" all around. It's theming, it's immersion, and Disney has a long history of creating such experiences—they practically invented it. All these ideas combined are to create not just a couple of really great E-ticket rides, but are to create a real place that you want to go and dwell." [Source]

Yes, that is true but Imagineers were thinking even bigger with the idea of a "place you want to go and dwell." There will be interactivity within Galaxy's Edge itself, but with this new resort, the experience will go further.

If you crashed the Millennium Falcon while on the ride, would costumed cast members dressed as bounty hunters come and find you to get payback because you lost their smuggled goods? Would a Stormtrooper congratulate you for wrecking the Empire's most feared ship? Would information about these experiences you've had be saved in your Magic Band and smartphone app so that when you got back to your Disney hotel you'd get a message from an unknown person saying to meet them tomorrow near the Blockade Runner? How would this experience carry on to your room for the night?


Star Wars-inspired resort planned for Walt Disney World Resort. © Disney Parks.

The answer to that last question is that your room would still be part of Star Wars land! The immersion won't end when you leave the park. You'll still be on Batuu but not in the marketplace anymore. The themed resort was not announced with the original unveiling of Galaxy's Edge but now it makes this whole thing complete. You will be within the Star Wars realm during the day. And at night. And at breakfast. Living, breathing Star Wars. A dream come true. Is it much of a good thing though? (I should strike my own cheek for saying that). I mean, we won't be going to sleep in fear that Darth Vader is out in the hall looking for me. Right?


New images of the Star Wars-inspired resort planned for the Walt Disney World Resort. © Disney Parks.

Okay, so Star Wars + hotel = ? We've all stayed at hotels and I'm assuming most readers here will have stayed at Disney resorts. How much immersion are we talking when we consider a Star Wars hotel? What details would be included? Perhaps blue milk is part of the continental breakfast, where there would still be a long line for the Death Star-shaped waffle makers.

If you have trouble with the WiFi, Jawas are on the job from tech support. You know there's always some Jabba the Hut layout out by the outdoor pool, which would actually be a sarlaac pit. I'm always uncomfortable asking the front desk for more towels but now I have to ask Darth Vader if they have any free toothbrushes? Like other suites, the mini-fridges will Jedi-mind-trick me into buying a 12-ounce Diet Coke for $6.00. The thermostats only have two temperatures: Hoth and Mustafar. I kid, but I like considering wild possibilities.


New images of the Star Wars-inspired resort planned for the Walt Disney World Resort. © Disney Parks.

What I like from these eight-second concept images from the official Disney Parks YouTube channel is the idea that you're just walking around taking it all in. Just being there is a good feeling. If the Galaxy's Edge park is all excitement and movement, it looks like the resort will still be more relaxed even if it is heavily themed.

One of my favorite rides, the Haunted Mansion, had early conceptions as a walk-through attraction. That changed over development and is now the people-eating classic it is today, but I sometimes imagine how cool it would be to leisurely walk through the Haunted Mansion and take the time to really soak in the atmosphere—I want to take a stroll down the endless hallway, darn it!

And here with Star Wars, we may not be able to sit in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon for as long as we want or step off the ride to hug the leg of an AT-AT, but at the resort, we can just be there. Be in Star Wars and soak in the atmosphere. It may not be a ride, but it could very well be considered a new kind of "attraction," that just so happens to be where you'll sleep for the night and shower in a bacta tank. Regardless, I think that if I'm going to get to Galaxy's Edge, I'll have the option of going "all in" and step into that world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy—and wake the next morning in the same state of being.

Speaking of sleeping, Star Wars movies hardly ever show any characters sleeping. Come to think of it, whenever anyone does sleep, or try to sleep, their snooze time comes with a heap of trouble. C-3PO wakes up R2-D2 on the sandcrawler only to fear being melted down. When Anakin sleeps, he has nightmares about Padme dying; the nightmares are seemingly just a trap. Luke passes out in the snow fields of Hoth and nearly dies before saved by Han. And when Yoda lays down for a nap, he vanishes into the Force.

In spite of all that, I'm sure the Star Wars resort will be a place of peaceful respite. Unless Vader comes knocking on my door at 3:00 in the morning with that toothbrush.

 

Comments

  1. By cbarry

    Beyond excited for all of this to actually come to fruition!!

  2. By olegc

    i hope the beds are more comfortable than the concept drawings depict.

  3. By mkelm44

    This seems like one of those things where the operational cost ends up being ridiculous and it gets scaled down considerably. You'd be talking hundreds of "atmosphere" type performers every day all day, just to give you an "attaboy" for crashing the millennium falcon? We'll see what it looks like when it's done...

  4. By Dave1313

    Quote Originally Posted by mkelm44 View Post
    This seems like one of those things where the operational cost ends up being ridiculous and it gets scaled down considerably. You'd be talking hundreds of "atmosphere" type performers every day all day, just to give you an "attaboy" for crashing the millennium falcon? We'll see what it looks like when it's done...

    Isn't part of the proposed SW resort experience the guests dressing up for the theme?

    If so, Disney has a bunch of "free" extras in the guests themselves. True they would need to have professionals as well to pull off the interactions they are proposing.

    The dressing up part (aside from the cost) is a large part of why I don't see myself ever doing the SW resort thing. Even as a huge SW fan, if I could justify the cost to myself as a "just once" thing, I don't feel I would enjoy doing the dress up bit.

  5. By foxtwin

    olegc - yes, they do look rather stiff - I can't imagine they wouldn't make comfortable beds, but if they get too lost in the design and aesthetics, that detail could be bypassed (probably not, though)

    mkelm44 - yeah, I just wonder how far they're willing to go for this immersion at the hotel-level. Maybe I'm thinking too far into it and at the hotel the atmosphere will speak for itself and staff, while still perhaps in some themed uniform, may be more "down to earth" -- and after a long day at Galaxy's Edge, guests are going to just need some familiar comforts without stepping into a "Medieval Times in Space" kinda thing

    Dave1313 - If guests can dress up to be part of the interaction, I'd venture a guess that such costumes must be purchased in-park as a kind of extra cost/perk. I mean if, as a guest, you come into Magic Kingdom with a super-great genuine-looking costume of Tinkerbell, and kids start asking you for photos and autographs, Disney will have a problem with that (which was an incident in the news a couple years back). So I'd imagine we as guests can't just walk in with our Poe Dameron flight suits and expect the "full-treatment" ... but I really don't know. It's just that with our Magic Bands, the park knows where we are and what we ride so that data will be used somehow for this immersion, just don't know to what extent yet

  6. By mkelm44

    Foxtwin puts up a good point... costumes for adults are not permissible in the theme park. I know some people push that ("It's not a tinkerbell costume, it's tinkerbell inspired!") but I think walking around in your best stormtrooper armor is going to be a) over the line and b) really really hot. I live here in Orlando and it was a hot, breezeless 85 degrees yesterday in Epcot, and it's March- we get stupidly hot and humid during the summer.

    Plus at a certain point, you have to do basic hotel functions- are the maids going to be in costume? The maintenance people? The gardeners? I think the template is going to be Pandora, where there is a nominal storyline, but the rank and file cast members are going to be fairly normal. The idea that there will be star wars views out your park isn't hard... Disney Cruises have a simulated porthole in every interior (read windowless) room, but unless you're building hotel rooms without windows, people are still going to want to be able to look out the window and see if the afternoon rain shower has stopped yet.

    I think there will be lots of "opt-ins" available (at least at first) such as scavenger hunts or phone based games you can play, but I just can't see them getting hardcore immersive 24/7.

  7. By Dave1313

    Hmmm. OK, all good points on the costumes. I could have sworn I read that in the official announcement somewhere, and the thought stuck with me because I wanted no part of that aspect (and that it was essentially required if you participated). My memory is probably faulty, or I read into things way too much.

    Also great points on the windows, gardeners, housekeeping, etc.

    Only time will tell when it finally opens.

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