Previewing Immersion on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

by Todd King, contributing writer
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"Lightspeed to adventure!" The locations and destinations of Star Wars are very important to the enjoyment of the franchise. Disney Imagineers created Black Spire Outpost on planet Batuu at "Galaxy's Edge" that would be the place to explore and experience Star Wars. However, the ships, transports, and fighters are probably more iconic than some of the locales in the movies.

Galaxy's Edge had to include the Millennium Falcon, the most recognizeable ship of them all. In the stories we know, we get to spend a lot of time on ships like that one, as well as enemy ships like the Star Destroyers. Now Imagineers and Disney resort lodging have come together for a new kind of immersive experience. The Galactic Starcruiser in Disney's Hollywood Studios park in Florida looks to be—to borrow the phrase—a wild ride!


Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser official poster. © Lucasfilm and Disney.

Just look at the above poster. The Halcyon, the starcruiser in the upper-left corner, is the one you will board for your stay. But it's not a typical stay—you'll be "travelling" lightspeed to spots across the galaxy while you rest in your futuristic bedrooms, eat at exotic restaurants (the "Crown of Corellia Dining Room") with Twi'lek service (bottom-left corner), train to deflect lasers with your lightsaber (bottom-right), get help from Chewbacca, foil the plans of Kylo Ren (top right and middle), all while playing your part in the adventure—that could be you in the middle of it all.

Like the movies, this is a fantasy long-awaited, perhaps "something out of a dream," as Luke once said. To think that this starts next year and they're going to be taking reservations is crazy. To walk around in, to touch and feel Star Wars, will be so much more than a ride or what we now think of as an "attraction." I'm excited and amazed for sure, but I'm also wondering just how all of it works.

Well, to hear Imagineers talk about it, it it something that came out of their dreams, too.


Behind The Scenes: Disney Imagineers Talk Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser | Walt Disney World. Disney Parks YouTube Channel.

Here are the highlights from that video:

  • Getting to the Halcyon entails driving into Walt Disney World, going to a special terminal, boarding a transport pod (assumably with video screens showing your journey there, think Hogwarts Express at Universal, but way more), and docking with the large ship.
  • The food and beverage will be exotic yet familiar, and be much more than just Ronto Roasters and Oga's Cantina..
  • Onboard entertainment will include shows and music performed by aliens.
  • Lightsaber training will be like a live-action video game where you will be in a special room and learn to anticipate and deflect laser blasts with a lightsaber.
  • Part of the trip is going to Batuu (to the Galaxy's Edge land in the Hollywood Studios park, obviously) where a transport will connect to the Halcyon and "take" you to a landing spot where you disembark right inside Black Spire Outpost.
  • While in Galaxy's Edge, there will be more immersive details that connect to the Starcruiser: for example, with Smuggler's Run, you find out who wants to get the coaxium from you, then you take to the Millennium Falcon and (hopefully) succeed, and then "deliver" it later on with characters on the Halcyon.
  • Some characters you meet in Galaxy's Edge will be on the Starcruiser to involve you in more interaction and some storytelling opportunities.
  • While on board the Starcruiser, there is a First Order investigation going on, so you'll meet Stormtroopers and most likely, Kylo Ren, in your time there. The crew may need your help with certain things on the ship or on your "shore excursion" on Batuu (think scavenger hunt).
  • You can dive deep into the interactive experiences or take it casual if you want and just be a regular guest and even just watch others on adventures on the ship.
  • The Galactic Starcruiser was developed at the same time as Galaxy's Edge, so many of the aspects of the park were already tied to experiences on the Halcyon from the beginning. Much of the overlap between the two experiences have been planned for a while.
  • Disney Imagineers collaborated with Lucasfilm on Galaxy's Edge as well as Galactic Starcruiser to connect with broader Star Wars canon (movies old and new, streaming shows, novels, graphic novels, and so on).
  • Both old and new characters will be appearing on board the ship—some you may have discover on your own, even in "hidden" parts of the ship. You will interact with them by, for example, helping them with smuggling in "luggage," getting them put in the brig, or helping them escape the brig. You choose who to be loyal to. You may even get messages from them (perhaps text/app messages?) later or be at that night's entertainment. If this is controlled well, it could be the most memorable part of the whole trip.
  • Droids will also be on the ship along with Kylo Ren, Rey, and Chewbacca. Some things you do could bring them into action together (think those happenstance performances that occur in Disney parks).
  • You can get on the bridge of the Halcyon and take part in flying it and shooting its blasters, which "might come in handy," according to Scott Trowbridge.
  • All this interaction can also be more of a role-playing opportunity. If you're on the Starcruiser, you can go full-cosplay. Whether that plays into the character interaction hasn't been revealed, although I could see if you play a certain character or alien, you may get different reactions from characters.

For more details about these highlights, you can head over to www.starwarsgalacticcruiser.com.

The ronto in the room of course is the price and sticker shock that trended on social media when this information came out earlier this month. What can I say about it? It's expensive but it isn't just a hotel with decorations, or just a cruise ship with themed rooms. You hear things like this is first-of-its-kind and unique and immersive and original and it seems to be all those things. This is something that truly you wouldn't be able to experience anywhere else. How do you calculate that price and translate it to your guests? Insert "we could almost buy our own ship for that," jokes here.

With those prices, who are your guests going to be? Will people speak with their wallets and flood reservations or will it be lukewarm? They're banking a lot on this and counting on wide acceptance. Maybe prices will adjust favorably over time (not likely) but if not, saving money over a long time may be the way most people make plans to attend.

As for me, it would be a great experience—but I have questions, like are the interactive aspects better suited for kids? I know as an adult I'd like playing along and "going on a mission" and feel like a kid again, but would I be taking that spot away from a kid? Do things happen in the middle of the night or do we get peaceful sleep? The idea of Star Wars music and dinner shows kinda crinkles my skin when I think about it, but I haven't seen the shows yet. I mean, if they did something like that opera scene from Revenge of the Sith but Anakin and Palpatine were there, that would be something. Meeting other Star Wars fans there would also be rewarding. Only time will tell if I go on the voyage before or after retirement but it's on the bucket list already!

One of the coolest aspects of this whole experience is how Disney plans to keep guests in the Star Wars realm without "breaking" the story. You go from entering Disney World and then straight to your Star Wars experience and for two days and nights you can be completely immersed in that realm the entire time! Personally, I think I'd almost rather be a cast-member character on this Starcruiser and help make that magic happen, but I'd certainly like to experience both sides somehow/someday. Perhaps that's the post-retirement plans...

For more details on the accommodations and prices, check out Alan Dalinka's recent Walt Disney World Update on MousePlanet.