Galactic Starcruiser A Flop in the Force?
Ever since purchasing Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney has not been shy about exploring every possible stream of revenue the galaxy far, far away could possibly lend itself to. We have seen new films of varying qualities, largely excellent TV shows highlighted by the hit The Mandalorian, and the comic book line brought in-house to Marvel. They have wasted no time in bringing the Star Wars universe into their theme parks as well in the form of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. Despite only having two rides these are expertly themed and incredibly immersive lands that take park guests into a fully-fledged spaceport that feels like it is taken right from the movies. You can have a drink in a hole-in-the-wall cantina, avoid squads of Stormtroopers marching through the streets, or take advantage of the many photo opportunities. Mind you in true Disney fashion, especially now in the era of Bob Chapek as CEO, there may only be two rides but there are more shops and food stands than you can toss a Jawa at ready and take your money. This is where most multi-media entertainment giants would take the time to survey their work and pat themselves on the back. But not in this case as Disney found a way to make even more dough from park guests, this time in the form of a hotel which promised further immersion in the world of Star Wars for anyone who checks into the Galactic Starcruiser.
For a mere $6,000+ you and your party of 4 will board a high-class cruise ship during the events of the sequel trilogy for a 2.5 day/2 night “voyage”. During the stay their is a full itinerary of Star Wars related fun with even moments of racing droids, playing sabacc, lightsaber training, a lounge complete with Tw’lek singer, and even “unscheduled fun” (the irony of “unscheduled fun” being on the schedule). This combination of a world class hotel as the stage for a rollicking sci-fi adventure you can take part in had those with deep enough pockets giddy with excitement. The level of detail they put into Galaxy’s Edge proved that Disney Imagineers were more than capable of taking park guests to a galaxy far, far away. As soon as the reservation window opened, the Galactic Starcruiser was booked to full capacity for the first several months of operation. By all appearances Walt Disney World already had a hit on their hand. Then they released a video to market this experience…….
It is not uncommon for Disney to release in-depth videos to show off soon-to-open new attractions, often with some celebrity excitedly accompanying a Disney cast member tied to the project’s development. In the case of the Galactic Starcruiser we had Sean Giambrone from the sitcom The Goldbergs and Ann Morrow Johnson, one of the Imagineers who oversaw the project. For the first time the laypeople could see the actual Galactic Starcruiser, beyond the amazing concept art, and could finally witness for themselves…..just how bad it looked. Those expecting the promised fully-immersive Star Wars adventure were shocked, and not in a good way, to see that the decor and aesthetic was simply generic science fiction with a mish-mash of a variety of different sci-fi franchises. The corridors looked like they were taken right off the Enterprise of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The bridge definitely holds influence from Battlestar Galactica. The much touted lounge with a blue Tw’lek singer would fit perfectly within the Fifth Element. As you may have noticed none of these are Star Wars. Above all else it simply looked cheap, the rich details and imagination evident the parks are known for apparently did not make it to the halls of the Galactic Starcruiser.
As far as the onboard activities are concerned they do not look anywhere close to the levels of expectations fans were given. The supposed real retractable lightsaber patent papers were filed for, will not be for the lightsaber guests who shelled out the equivalent of a multiple mortgage payments to use as many expected. Rather they will have to deal with the $139.99 toy weapon available from Galaxy’s Edge which is far inferior to the many cosplay lightsabers on the market. Not only that, but a number of the games and activities onboard the hotel ship will be via a mobile phone app, or as they call it, your Datapad. So for multiple thousands of dollars you can play on a phone app in a hotel. The most recent piece of news concerning the hotel was the revelation that the “transport shuttle” taking guests to this all-encompassing Star Wars experience are plain box trucks they could not even bother to decorate or modify to at least keep-up the illusion.
The reactions to this video showcasing Disney World’s new high priced hotel experience were far from what executives probably wanted. The amount of fan backlash actually prompted the company to take the official video now something they had never done before. It proved too little too late as people had already seen it and made sure to capture it before the House of Mouse covered it up. Adding onto the issues was the leak of the video guests are sent beforehand for orientation. It would seem the company behind many of the biggest blockbusters of all-time could not be bothered to create anything above the production level of an Asylum film. The icing on the terrible cake is the host whipping out a supposed hologram projector which is blatantly an iPhone.
Unsurprisingly, spending multiple thousands of dollars for what amounts to a hilariously overpriced LARP campaign is not something a lot of people want to do. The hotel that was once booked solid for months now has plenty of reservation spots open. No doubt, this project will regain some of its lost momentum as we approach next month’s opening day as Disney-friendly “influencers” will be among the first guests and they will hype up the experience social media, but that can only go so far and once word begins to spread outside of that bubble this will be the true test of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser.