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Welcome to Theme Park News, and welcome me, your resident theme park reporter, back to Earth, because I spent a day in space and have happily floated back down to tell you all about it.
For those who haven't been patiently awaiting a first glimpse inside this hallowed starship, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a two-night immersive experience channeling everything from a hotel stay to an open-ended immersive theatre performance. Helmed by the team behind Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park land at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, this all-inclusive getaway heralded as a "cruise on land" packs the punch of a never-before-seen Star Wars experience into one extremely unique stay.
In the fiction of the Galactic Starcruiser adventure, you're staying on a vessel known as the Halcyon, a luxury ship operated by the Chandrila Star Line travel company. In reality, even with the plentiful windows looking out at the vastness of a galaxy far, far away, you're grounded in Florida, so all the effort and design put into selling this concept goes above and beyond to convince you that you are, in fact, floating through space.
Still, the big selling point here is that you'll be transported into your own Star Wars story. Not only will you eat otherworldly meals in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room and don cloaks and costumes (available for purchase in advance or in the ship's boutique) but your allegiances with the First Order or Resistance will impact the choices you make and the action unfolding around you, all of which culminates in a self-proclaimed "Spectacular Finale" as part of the extended trip-long narrative.
The two-night stay packs in plenty of activities, including lightsaber training, and a day excursion to Batuu — no hours-long wait time for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance here! — but until now, has been engulfed in secrecy. I spent an afternoon taste-testing the dishes, swinging a lightsaber and learning defense skills on the ship's bridge, soaking up a preliminary version of the experience that is opens in a few short months.
Here are my main takeaways from an early preview of the hotel:
The action happens on — and off — the ship. Times are increasingly tense aboard the Halcyon, and the appearance of a First Order officer and Stormtroopers embedded within the crew should signal to some, ahem, trouble ahead. Throughout the multi-day narrative, passengers will interact with famous characters and see their own experiences intertwine with significant outcomes. Oh, and all that interactivity that's been hyped since Starcruiser was announced? It plays out in more ways than one. Sometimes, you'll interact with crew aboard and your previous actions will be referenced later, other times you may receive assignments to complete on your excursion to Batuu through the Star Wars: Datapad through the Play Disney Parks App. Either way, the interactivity means that what you do in certain moments aboard won't be forgotten later on, and your help may be needed to face off against First Order operatives — or, perhaps, do their bidding.
You'll absolutely feel like you're aboard a Starcruiser. Perhaps it's the massive screen on the ship's bridge and its ever-so-slight movements, the mechanical hum or how often you'll walk between "decks," but after only a few hours, you'll start to forget you just valeted a car in a Floridian porte-cochère. Time moves differently here, too. You know how on cruise ships it's as though each day amounts to three normal ones? That phenomenon exists on the Halcyon as well. Part of it is surely because you don't quite see the sun while on board unless you choose to, but also because you're on space time. Vegas vibes? Perhaps, but it aids the storytelling as well as your pocketbook, as you'll emerge feeling like you've spent a full, exciting week in space, and I'm all for it.
It's unclear if activities will provide the level of difficulty true fans yearn for. Accomplishing arcade game-like challenges during Bridge Training was fun, and I actually felt myself tripped up by the increasing difficulty levels, but it and other interactive experiences felt like a better fit for a family unit than a group of friends. Same with Lightsaber Training — as an absolute novice I felt strange wielding the weapon for the first time, but even still, did not find the experience to be overtly difficult. (We didn't get to try the Holo-Sabacc table, so put a pin in that for now.)
Be glad it's all-inclusive, because you'll want seconds. Having sampled some of the ship's lunchtime dishes, I can happily say that the food aboard is beyond delectable. They hit the perfect balance of nailing space-like elements, like bonito flakes that twitch and shrink as you eat and blue milk butter served with purple bread, without sacrificing flavor. (And take note now: if you see the matcha cheesecake when you make your way aboard, don't miss out.)
The cabins may very well be one of my favorite parts. We only had a brief tour of the sleeping quarters, which are on the smaller side, but as a proud top-bunk kid, I scurried up a little ladder to experience it for myself once granted permission. It feels like snoozing in the space version of a tour bus or train compartment, only without any concern of motion sickness, making you want to curl up with a lil' stuffed Chewbacca and awake to even more galactic adventures. Fool your friends and family into taking the regular ol' queen bed, because the "berth" bunks are where it's at.
Prepare to take part in the action, even if you expected not to. I couldn't have been less likely to participate in the more "immersive theatre" elements of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Given that I was on board not as a passenger but a reporter with notepad and tape recorder in hand, I planned to study my surroundings and watch others participate. Instead, I immediately found myself sympathizing with the First Order — what! — in a welcome cocktail party "scene". Later on, in Bridge Training, which sees passengers play mini-games to help learn defense and navigation skills, I found myself taking it more seriously than my reporting. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser allows you to participate as much or as little as you'd like to, choosing to dive head-first into the action or just watch the events unfold on your way to the onboard luxe cantina. And while it's fine to kick back with a space cocktail, you may surprise yourself with what you wind up taking part in.
The ship feels like a more luxurious extension of Galaxy's Edge. Only artist renderings have been released thus far, but having been conceived simultaneously with Galaxy's Edge, that intergalactic design perspective carries over here. Picture spaces like Oga's Cantina with more refined interiors, a ship packed with plenty of velvet surfaces and a bright, and a welcoming dining room boasting iridescent chandeliers and cozy booths. It feels like a natural extension of the universe Batuu resides in than any other specific vessel within the legacy films, but with the luxe dial turned up to 11.
If you're on the fence, you might wanna book it now. Not only are kids now getting vaccinated, which is fantastic but likely to make trips to Walt Disney World most costly in the near future, once this experience hits the public, videos of it are going to be everywhere online. Do your best to block the spoilers by seeing it for yourself as soon as possible — if you can swing it, that is.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World debuts on March 1, 2022, and is currently accepting bookings via phone at (407) 939-5277. Sample room prices start around $4800 and vary by room occupancy and date.
Head below for a special look inside the experience, featuring Sean Giambrone (of Solar Opposites and Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous fame):
A MUPPET-Y DISNEYLAND UPDATE
I spent the weekend — and last night — at Disneyland Resort to take in their holiday festivities, which were great, but I am still not done screaming about how glorious The Muppets were at Disneyland's Merriest Nites late-night event.
I've previously shared my joy over this bit of live entertainment and holy heck, did it deliver. Kermit and Miss Piggy singing carols and popular tunes alongside a full scripted show featuring an off-screen Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker causing antics from afar! Pepe The King Prawn in a glimmering suit jacket! And Kermit's unbelievable dance moves!:
I MAY NEVER RECOVER!
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- Disneyland unveiled plans for a new Toontown debuting in 2023.
- A good thing recently got even better.
- Wow — Florida tourism is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood has extended its SoCal resident ticket discount — which can be used to purchase tickets for friends and family — through Dec. 24.
- There's a new CEO in town over at Universal Parks & Resort.