The Death of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has been Greatly Exaggerated
There is a difference between healthy skepticism and rooting for failure.
Nothing can be discussed without some sort of toxic discourse. Last year, I wrote about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser prices and itinerary and wondered whether most Star Wars fans would be interested.
The hotel has not even been opened for six months and you would think the ship was sinking the way certain publications and discourse around the Galactic Starcruiser over the past few weeks have played out. Recently, it was reported that Walt Disney World invited past visitors to the Galactic Starcruiser in Walt Disney World to participate in a 90-minute research study with incentives of up to $175 worth of gift cards.
Per CEO Bob Chapek during the Disney Investor call in May, guest ratings for the immersive experience are high and they expect “100% utilization, through the end of Q3.” (Disney FY 2022 Q2 Report)
That’s CEO for we expect to be booked and busy until the end of Summer.
Despite any evidence to the contrary, people took this as a sign that the experience was failing. Reputable entertainment news sites have participated in this clickbait narrative of the Star Wars hotel bombing with Disney scrambling to figure out what went wrong (I will not feed into it by linking any of the articles).
The answer is nothing has gone wrong. At least, not yet.
Anyone who has ever worked or done any market research in tourism and travel knows that surveys and focus groups for new hotels, cruise ships, or any other tourist attractions are not unique.
The cruise line industry often does its surveys in Q4 for planned Spring and Summer bookings. Especially during the pandemic, interest in consumer behaviors extends throughout the tourism industry and beyond.
So, no Disney doing a survey on its newest experience in Walt Disney World is not a sign that the hotel is a failure. It means, like any smart business, Disney is getting feedback from the first group of guests to obtain key learnings that will help them book more people (and get returning visitors).
I admit I was skeptical of its success, but it is off to a good start. We will see how bookings continue into next Summer for an indication of long-term success.
But the thing is…there are only 100 guest rooms in the Halcyon (the official name of the “luxury ship” that guest are traveling on to Batuu). That is considerably lower than the other Deluxe resorts in its category at Walt Disney World. The only other resort that has lower capacity is the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs with 60 treehouses. The average room number for the Deluxe resorts and hotels is 731 rooms.
And there are many visitors to the park that shell out for the pricey accommodations of an 867-room Grand Floridian or one of the 847 Grand Polynesian rooms. So, it stands to reason that the Halcyon probably will not have problems filling out its 100 rooms.
The tricky thing is that you can only stay for two days so the hotel acts more like a cruise ship with a set schedule. And even the Disney Cruise Line ships have an average of 1,062 rooms.
The odds here are in the Halcyon’s favor as there certainly could be enough 24-hour RPG enthusiasts that have enough money to invest in this experience.
The truth of why people are dog-pilling on this hotel more than any other overpriced Disney hotel might be more simple than the go-to toxic fandom argument: Disney made the first and only Star Wars themed hotel a Deluxe resort and people are feeling a certain way about it.
Walt Disney World resort hotels are categorized into three main levels: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Value resorts have limited amenities and are usually further away from the park. These are the resorts you want to avoid if you do not want to be surrounded by high school or college students. Moderate resorts are middle-of-the-road, hotels usually with larger rooms and better food on site. But you likely will still be waiting for a bus to the main park.
And then there are the Deluxe hotels. These are the crème de la crème of the bunch, the hotels that you might want to spend more time in than the park because they cost you ten times as much as a park ticket. These hotels are either a short walk to the park or a quick boat or monorail ride.
“Star Wars is for everyone” is a popular tagline that Disney and Star Wars fandom is pushing. And the content should be accessible to everyone (who can afford Disney Plus). But that accessibility does not extend to the parks or the hotels. Visitors can experience the parks from Value (All Star Resorts) to Deluxe/Premium (Grand Polynesian, Grand Floridian). And Star Wars is a premium brand for Disney. So it is not surprising that a Star Wars hotel would have a premium price tag.
Whatever learnings come out of this 90-minute research study, we will probably not see the results or changes from this until next year at the minimum. Disney has never really let complaints about costs get in their way, so do not expect any reduction in that department. Until then, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel success or failure is still a wait-and-see, despite the nasty clickbait.