Why Did Disney’s Galactic StarCruiser Fail & What Happens Next?

Disney World has announced that the Galactic StarCruiser aka The Halcyon, will take its last voyage at the end of September 2023. The closure brings to an end a much criticised experiment into immersive story telling. Many visitors of the Star Wars themed hotel gave the experience and excellent review, so why is Disney’s Galactic StarCruiser shutting down?

Disney’s Star Wars Hotel

The plans for a Star Wars themed hotel were announced in 2017 to much fanfare. At the time the expectation was that Disney would offer a traditional hotel experience but with a Star Wars overlay, similar to other Disney themed hotels across the world. It was clear however by 2019 that this would be a unique and immersive experience set over a 2 day ‘Galactic Cruise’. While many were excited by the plans, once pricing was announced things started to unravel and was probably the start of its downfall.

An expensive experience

For a family to experience a cruise on board the Halcyon prices were around $5000. To put this price into a context, a family of 4 travelling from the UK and staying on Disney property at Coronado Springs could pay around £7000 for 14 days, excluding park tickets. This means that a family travelling from the UK would need to pay a large portion of what they paid for their entire holiday for a 2 night stay. That kind of pricing is simply out of reach for many families and none are likely to travel to Florida for 2 nights only. As a result of this pricing strategy, the sums simply didn’t add up for international guests, depriving the Galactic StarCruiser of potential custom.

Not the Star Wars we know

Disney decided that the StarCruiser experience should centre around more modern Star Wars stories, as opposed to those seen in the original trilogy. On the face of it, this is an interesting decision considering that the most recent Star Wars films have been met with much criticism. Many critics pointed out that this was a bad decision if Disney wanted to exploit the nostalgia factor from those who grew up with the series and are now economically active. Disney could have hoped that children felt differently towards the new films and that pester power would prevail but for $5000, it would take an awful lot of pestering.

Once and done

For those who can justify the price and are suitably fanatical about Star Wars, many agreed it was a one time experience. Disney would argue that the experience would change on each visit dependent on how you wanted your own story to go. This was certainly true, but for such a high price the next visit would surely be years away rather than months. The result was that from the small number of visitors who did book voyages, many did not plan to return anytime soon.

The future of the Galactic StarCruiser

Disney is yet to announce what will happen to The Halcyon but speculation has already started. We have outlined some of the most likely scenarios.

  • The main spaces within The Halcyon will remain the same and converted into a 1 day up charge experience. This means guests will remain within their resort hotels but can take a day long cruise to experience the immersive story telling, interactive games and the dining. After being greeted for breakfast The Halcyon engages its hyper drive and the adventure begins. After a full day you would experience a thrilling finale, followed by a celebration dinner.
  • The building is converted into a more traditional hotel including the introduction of windows, a pool, and outdoor space. Due to the size and configuration of the rooms i’m not sure whether the hotel could be considered deluxe. It is however possible that Disney World introduce a new boutique ‘immersive’ category which could be replicated across property with various themes.
  • The StarCruiser is kept to its current configuration but only used for private bookings.

It’s also possible we’ll see a combination of all of the above. What do you think?

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