Galactic Starcruiser Preview: Disney World’s Star Wars Hotel Is A One Of A Kind Experience

Rey Fighting Kylo ren
(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

When Walt Disney first opened Disneyland he brought into existence something new in the world of themed entertainment, and since that day the company that bears his name has continued to push the limits of what is possible. When it created Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney created a new place in the Star Wars universe that guests could actually visit, and now Disney has upped the ante yet again in both theme parks and Star Wars with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an experience that is part hotel, part theme park, but entirely Star Wars.

I was able to visit the Galactic Starcruiser myself and experience a condensed version of what guests will see and do over the course of two days. There is a lot for guests to explore, and it has to be said that for Star Wars fans there is just nothing quite like Galactic Starcruiser.

aliens and guesgts on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Living Your Own Star Wars Adventure

While Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge scratches the surface of letting guests feel like they’re on another planet, the Galactic Starcruiser takes to another level. It begins by getting into what is really just an elevator, you see screens that appear to show you the outside world, until your “shuttle”  lifts off and takes you into space.

From there you enter the main atrium of the Halcyon, the intergalactic starcruiser where you will spend the next two days. Here you'll run into the characters who will be joining you for your cruise. 

There’s galactic superstar Gaya, as well as her bandmates, Sandro Alimandar and Quannii. There’s also Gaya’s manager, Raithe Kole, something of a rogue who I think wanted to take me to the cleaners at the sabacc table. You’ll meet the ship’s captain and the cruise director as well as others. Each is ostensibly there to make your cruise experience pleasant, but this is a Star Wars story after all, and so all is not entirely what it seems.

While I won’t be giving away spoilers for the story, let it simply be said that the Halcyon becomes a battleground between the First Order and the Resistance and the guests will need to pick a side.

The various characters will be available to guests throughout the trip and you’re free to interact with them in a variety of ways, and they may also choose to interact with you. Most of my interactions came because they wanted to get to know me. If they think they can trust you, one might ask you to help them with a small task if you are sympathetic to their cause.

Even in my brief time on board the characters seemed to get to know me and others on board with me. They’d call us by name when they saw us later. This simple thing makes you feel more involved in the story even without needing to do anything.

lightsaber training

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Starcruiser Activities

Like any good cruise ship, there are numerous activities guests can take advantage of throughout their stay. The one that has received most of the attention has been the lightsaber training experience. And yeah, it’s pretty cool.

The lightsaber you’re given is, unfortunately, not the version that received a lot of press, that actually extends like a “real” lightsaber, though you will see that one before you leave, and it is impressive. It’s still a decent quality item however. It’s got more heft to it than the plastic toys you can buy, but it’s not quite as detailed as the $200 models you can build yourself at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Guests are given the chance to use the lightsaber to deflect laser blasts. When you successfully parry the blast, the lightsaber will flicker and you’ll get some haptic feedback in the form of vibration, giving you a real sense that you did something. While one guest is using a lightsaber, others are able to use shields to help block errant blasts that get past the saber wielder, giving more people something to do. The session is designed to rotate through all the guests multiple times, so it’s not a “one and done” sort of thing. If it takes you a minute to figure it out, you'll have another chance.

The other major activity takes place on the “bridge” of the ship, where guests can be trained in the systems. You can man the weapons, where you move a targeting reticle and fire. You can take on the shields, where you play a game not unlike pong, blocking incoming projectiles. Or you can man the systems, where you have a large panel of buttons and switches that you must set in certain configurations in order to repair any damage. 

If you've ever played any sort of "bridge simulator game, this is that on steroids. The view screen is massive and watching the it fill with TIE fighters or blast through hyperspace is incredible. There are a couple of different experiences on the bridge, one on each day of the experience. Each one has its own connection to the story that is unfolding around you. 

Galactic Starcruiser DataPad

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Halcyon MagicBands And DataPads

If you've been to Disney World you're likely familiar with the MagicBand, the RFID device you keep on your wrist that acts as your room key, park ticket and more. This same technology is used on board the Galactic Starcruiser in cool and unique ways. 

Throughout the ship there are computer terminals and even entire rooms, that are only accessible using the band, and even then, only when your personal adventure takes you there. Guests are given datapads where they might be issued a mission to undertake. Such a mission might require using your band in a certain place at a certain time. Otherwise, the band won't give you access.

The band will also result in you being treated differently when you enter Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. A visit to Batuu is included with the Starcruiser, as the cruise ship's shore excursion. Interactions with cast members and even details on board some attractions, will be different for those with these bands.

And different story paths will open up depending on what you do and which side you choose. So there may be areas of the ship you don't actually see depending on your choices.

Star Wars galactic Starcruiser Rooms

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Starcruiser Rooms and D3-09

We've seen images of what the standard Galactic Starcruiser room looks like and in person they are as advertised. The standard rooms are not massive, to be sure, though suites are available. Having said that, the standard set up is very nice, and the "window" that shows the starfield of deep space is pretty cool to look out. It looks to be a comfortable place to sleep. Obviously, the feeling is you won 't be spending a massive amount of time here with everything else you're doing.

However. the most impressive thing inside the room, and one of the more impressive things in the entire Galactic Starcruiser is D3-09. She is your personal concierge, of a sort. D3-09 is a droid that is visible on a small screen in your room. She speaks to you, and you can speak back to her. D3-09 lets you know what's going on all over the ship and she wants to hear about what you've been up to as well. D3-09 responds to simple voice commands and was surprisingly flexible during the test I witnessed, responding to what might be considered less than clear statements.

This is a way to interact with the ship and the story that doesn't require you to "play the game" with live characters, which may appeal to a lot of people, and it was really cool to just see what D3-09 was able to say and do. One note, we were specifically warned that D3-09 may not always be available, so it appears this technology is the most cutting edge on the ship, and perhaps hasn't worked out all the bugs quite yet. 

Crown of Corellia Dining Room with Gaya performing

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

The Crown of Corellia Dining Room Has Some Of The Best Food In Disney World

When you go on a cruise, one of the things people love most is the food, and the Halcyon is no exception. The Crown of Corellia Dining Room is where meals will be served and the food that I tasted, part of the first night’s dinner experience, was delicious. 

The dining room is in the middle of the “ship” and thus the room has no windows, something that has received some criticism. I have to say this certainly didn't bother me any. It’s a large enough room that it doesn’t feel all that small. Having Space 220 like windows that look out on space would certainly be cool, but I didn't feel it was necessary.

The first night’s meal includes a live-show from Gaya and her band. And let this be said. Gaya ROCKS. I know there were some that were less than thrilled with the character based on what had been teased in Disney’s marketing, but the performance was a highlight. My only complaint is that the show was too short. I want to buy the ablum.

The second night is all about the food, where the Halcyon chef will present you with a Taste Around the Galaxy menu, and take you through a variety of items from all over the galaxy. I got to eat the first night's menu, and everything was delicious and presented beautifully. 

There are some really high end restaurants to be found at Disney World. If you to spend a lot of money for a gourmet dinner, you certainly can. The Galactic Starcruiser is right up there with the best of them.

alien and droid at Sabacc table

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth It?

In the final analysis the question for many is simply, is it worth it? The Galactic Starcruiser is not an inexpensive experience to be had. A cabin costs $5,000 to $6,000 for the two day experience, and that is absolutely a lot of money. 

In the end, I can’t answer this question for anybody else. First off, I did not experience the full two days that guests will go through beginning March 1. Secondly, I didn’t pay for the experience that I did have, and so I can’t make a call on whether I got my money's worth.

There are also numerous other factors I was not able to take into account. The Galactic Starcruiser was not at full capacity when I was there. Will a full ship be easy to navigate? Will it be easy to engage in whatever it is you want to do? The Starlight Lounge only has one sabacc table. Will there be a seat open when you want one? Will the lounge itself have a seat at the bar when you have downtime or will you need to make reservations or go on a waitlist like you do at Oga's Cantina. Beyond sitting down to play a game of sabacc, which was fun, I didn't get much chance to experience the lounge.

What I can say is that every element of the Galactic Starcruiser that I did experience was great. I had fun on the bridge and blocking blaster shots with a lightsaber. The food I had was delicious. Even now having done most of the major events of the story, I want to go back and do the full experience. I want to have the down time to explore the Galactic Starcruiser and see the things I did not see and do the things I did not do.

If you're a real Star Wars fan and the idea of playing a character within that galaxy appeals to you, then there's a lot of reason to recommend Galactic Starcruiser. Even if you're just a theme park fan, there is a lot of fun to be had here and the novelty of the experience alone is worth something.

Is it worth the price? For many that's what will be the determining factor and of course value is different for everybody. There will be those that visit the Galactic Starcruiser and don't get enough value out of it because they're not interested in playing the game or because they just weren't impressed enough by what's on display. 

There will be others who may never get a chance to visit Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser because of the price who would find that it's worth every penny. What's been created here is impressive, and if it is successful, it likely will only be the beginning of this sort of entertainment.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.