If Disney learns the very expensive lessons they've paid for in developing, running, and now apparently slowly shuttering the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser it'll have been well worth it. While Disney clearly fumbled the entire marketing and forecasting side of the equation and probably didn't understand what they were building — reviews of the experience for fans of it are fantastic.
The Galactic Starcruiser is a hotel designed to simulate a galactic luxury cruise ship. The price for the experience is that of a week to a weeks-long actual luxury cruise, around $5000 per guest for three days in a fairly windowless box experiencing Star Wars dinner theater. Unlike an expensive luxury cruise one does not relax, see exotic places, or enjoy some sunshine and lots of good food — customers are expected to engage in a 2.25-day, 2-night Star Wars version of Tony and Tina's wedding.
Engage customers must! There is a ton of really cool Star Wars-ing to discover. The ship does drop you off in Disney World at their small Star Wars land, for some outdoor time — but even there you are running about with your phone completing missions to earn special easter egg stuff.
The number of people willing to pay for this adventure seems small. Disney has been scaling back from almost the start and now changes seem pretty drastic and like it'll be hard for the show to go on. Cast members have been let go, the schedule is seeing cancellations, and it seems to be in a death spiral.
However, Disney built an amazing stage and proved they can host incredible adventures. The marketing disaster aside, it is clear they built the Starcruiser with the intent of being able to use it to role-play many generations of Star Wars, over hundreds of years. It is a theater that they can put up new shows in and likely bring those prior customers back for a new adventure. It seems only a few vloggers Disney invited on multiple cruisers were repeat customers.
It was a fantastic idea I'd have liked to experience, but I don't like the Rey/Kylo era of Star Wars and wouldn't pay for it without my kid displaying far more enthusiasm. She prefers The Clone Wars cartoons and Rebels to the live-action movies, so this first run of the show was not for us.
The Galactic Starcruiser began offering 30% discounts to loyal Disney Vacation Club members in November when hotel capacity dropped to as low as 25% on some dates, according to WDW News Today. The low turnout forced the Starcruiser to cut the second dinner seatings on some evenings, WDW News Today reported.
"The low demand has brought concerns for the future of the experience," according to WDW NewsToday. "As Master Yoda says, 'Difficult to see. Always in motion the future is.'"
In January, Disney canceled dates for Starcruiser stays in July, August and September and offered to rebook impacted guests on other voyages at 50% discounts, according to WDW Magic.
At the same time, Disney World rolled out discounts as steep as $700 on hotel stays at the Florida theme park resort before or after a Starcruiser voyage, according to WDW News Today.
Disney World is offering the huge discounts in hopes of reversing the tide for the "struggling" Star Wars hotel, according to Inside the Magic.