Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Preview – We Visited the Star Wars Hotel! – IGN
While Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser doesn’t open until March 1, 2022, I was given the opportunity to attend a preview event with a small group of press to get a firsthand look at the two-night experience. Though it’s tempting to refer to it as just a really expensive “Star Wars hotel,” it’s actually so, so much more. I’m going to tell you all about it, including details about the Galactic Starcruiser hotel, the otherworldly food, lightsabers, and an immersive story filled with the danger and adventure of a classic Star Wars movie.
But first, two things to keep in mind: the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience features a story that unfolds over the course of your stay, so that means there are twists and turns that some may want to experience for the first time on their visit. This report will include some minor plot spoilers but won’t give away any big reveals. Still, if you want to go in completely spoiler-free, it’s best to exit this page now.
Second, it’s important to note that everything I saw on my visit was a work in progress. The building was still under construction, the character actors weren’t in full makeup and costume, and some activities had undeveloped aspects. My visit provided a tour of the Galactic Starcruiser and a few “playtesting” sessions. All of this took place over a few hours, whereas guests’ adventures will unfold over a full weekend. What I saw was very much a brief “beta test” and may be different when it opens, so keep that in mind when setting your expectations.
A Seamless, Immersive Experience
So the first question you may have is, what is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? The best way I can describe it is an immersive Star Wars ride the size of an entire hotel that lasts two days, because it’s telling a Star Wars story with a beginning, middle, and end.
From the second you arrive at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the immersive experience begins. After arriving at the unassuming slate gray building and dropping off luggage, you’ll follow hallways specifically designed to look like a concrete launch facility and enter your launch pod. The pod’s windows let you watch as you blast off into space and dock with the Galactic Starcruiser, known as the Halcyon.
Walking into the main room at the heart of the Halcyon, the atrium, feels like walking onto a genuine starship right out of the movies. There’s a soft machine hum simulating the sound of the starship engines. All the windows are video screens showing stars, planets, and other ships off in the distance. Various beeps and boops sound off as computers and droids do their duties. A look toward the bridge shows numerous consoles with glowing buttons and levers, and beyond those is a grand view out into space courtesy of the ship’s massive front windshield.
Once aboard the ship, the immersion remains relatively seamless, even when traveling to the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. Before guests can go there, though, the ship will first have to dock at Black Spire Outpost, and guests will enter the park from a new entrance to Galaxy’s created just for the Galactic Starcruiser experience. (The entrance is currently under construction and its exact location has yet to be revealed.)
Both Galaxy’s Edge and Galactic Starcruiser were developed at the same time, so guests will be able to spot Easter eggs that link one to the other. For example, there’s a job posting for a new mechanic hanging on the wall inside Oga’s Cantina, and on the ship you’ll meet the mechanic who got the job.
LARPing Around the Galaxy
To start off the cruise, guests will be greeted by an opening ceremony of sorts where they’re welcomed to the ship by the crew and are introduced to a few of the characters, but for our preview we skipped the ceremony and were given free reign to explore the atrium and its adjoining rooms (including a cantina, natch) and interact with the characters.
I saw a musician strumming an instrument, a smiling man in a purple long coat, and an alien in a beautiful purple dress who only spoke in her alien language but tried her best to communicate with our group via hand gestures. The Galactic Starcruiser is filled with all sorts of characters you can interact with—some who will walk up to you with a question, some who sit waiting to be approached, and others who will call attention to themselves and it’ll be your choice to either go see what the fuss is about or continue to sit back and enjoy your space cocktail. The level of interaction and roleplaying you want on your adventure is completely up to you.
Eventually my little group struck up a conversation with a nervous-looking crew member in a blue mechanic outfit who introduced himself as Sammie—and he asked in a hushed voice if we supported the Resistance, because a famous member was aboard and in need of help. Just then, a First Order officer flanked by two Stormtroopers entered the atrium and began a search for the hairiest of Resistance heroes, Chewbacca, who was hiding on the balcony up above. Sammie told me to create a distraction so Chewbacca could make a break for it, but I wasn’t feeling particularly brave and offered the task to my friend, who lept into action and caught the First Order’s attention (and received a harsh talking-to from the steely officer for it) while myself and a group of other guests created a human wall to cover Chewie’s escape. Afterward, Sammie introduced us to the captain of the ship, a Pantoran alien by the name of Captain R. Keevan, who thanked us for our efforts and taught us a secret code to identify ourselves as allies of the Resistance.
That was just one way this particular “quest” could have unfolded. Each guest is free to make their own choices—maybe you would have turned Chewie over to the First Order instead of helping him, you monster—and those choices are intended to have benefits/consequences that show up later in your adventure. One interaction may even lead you to a new quest at Galaxy’s Edge or lead you to uncover secret areas of the ship that require special access. While there is a larger “main” story involving everyone that unfolds over the weekend, it seems no two guests will have the exact same experience because of the smaller story threads they may choose to follow, or not.
The Galactic Starcruiser Rooms
The cabins on the Galactic Starcruiser feel like a room on a cruise ship, for better or for worse. The room we visited was meant for two adults and two kids. It had a queen size bed and two bunk beds. The bunks looked small but were twin size—the tallest person in our group was able to climb up and fully lay down.
The coolest feature is the large window (screen) looking out to space, which can be switched off for bedtime. There’s always something neat to see on the screen, whether it be a new planet or a spaceship whizzing by, and what’s shown on the screen will change as the Halcyon charts its course through space.
The rooms are tight and compact, with little in the way of free space. They have a sleek design and are outfitted for space travel (everything, including the night stand, is bolted down), but no one would ever accuse them of being spacious. That said, given the abundance of activities to do outside the room, the lack of space will hopefully be a non-issue because you’ll be out helping the Resistance.
Experiencing a Star Wars Adventure
The entire Galactic Starcruiser experience is modeled after a relaxing luxury cruise out into space, and like any cruise, each guest will have an itinerary. At first glance the itinerary seems full of unremarkable activities, but as you’d expect from something set in the Star Wars universe, it’s not long before you get a bad feeling about whatever activity you’re doing and a ho-hum day turns into an exciting adventure. And guests will be encouraged to be a part of the action every step of the way.
The bridge was easily the most entertaining part of my visit. While we initially came to the bridge for some rudimentary training on the weapons, shields, cargo handling, and computer systems, unexpected events involving—you guessed it—the First Order turned our relaxing afternoon of lazily pushing buttons into an intense struggle to survive that involved making daring hyperspace jumps, navigating an asteroid field, and putting those weapon systems to good use. The bridge’s numerous consoles let us take control of the ship and play through scenarios on the massive windshield screen the size of a movie theater screen. We were essentially all players in an elaborate multiplayer video game where we’re able to fire off lasers and missiles to defend the ship (and attempt to beat your friend’s score while you’re at it).
On top of being a huge video game system, the bridge also acted as an interactive theater where dramatic story beats played out both on the comm screens and with actors on the floor with us, often involving guests who are enlisted to help out members of the crew.
We were shown a key story moment from both the first day and the second day of the experience, and getting a peek at what’s to come showed how nothing is included without a purpose. Bridge Training sounded boring but wound up turning into a thrilling adventure. In classic Star Wars fashion, things start out seemingly simple, but it’s not long before something dramatic happens and you’re called to adventure. The few story snippets I saw made me appreciate how the entire weekend is intricately constructed to create a fun, engrossing story that unfolds over the course of your stay.
Food, Drink, and Alien Cuisine
If you liked the weird yet tasty food of Galaxy’s Edge, then you’re going to love what’s on the menu on the Halcyon.
There’s ceviche with a tentacled twist, a grilled cheese “bubble waffle” with a side of tomato bisque soup, and a cube of purple bread with a pat of blue bantha butter, among other delicacies that look downright extraterrestrial but are actually just a salad with funny looking broccoli. The standout dish was a miso-crusted salmon topped with a mystery ingredient that twisted and thrived on the plate. (It stopped moving, eventually.) It doesn’t get more alien than that.
As for the specialty drinks, the Muja Twist is a light and refreshing fruit and vegetable cocktail, while the Hoth Frost comes frozen over in ice you have to break to drink the frothy blue cocktail inside. (Turns out the “ice” was a clear, brittle disc of spun sugar.)
But if you’re not feeling particularly adventurous with your diet—one person at our table was horrified by the calamari in the ceviche—then rest easy knowing there’s more standard food fare available, as well.
Let’s Talk Lightsabers
Finally, the big question: How do you get your hands on a lightsaber on the Galactic Starcruiser?
Everyone will be scheduled for lightsaber training, and what awaits you is a unique playtime session that will definitely scratch that Jedi Knight itch.
The session involves using the provided lightsabers to deflect laser beams fired by a wall-mounted training remote. It starts off slow, letting you get a feel for how it works, and then it ramps up to Jedi level where you’re Forced to block attacks without even seeing the lasers. The lightsaber used in this activity feels about on par with a Force FX lightsaber, though it is a tad shorter, but it’s only meant to be used for lightsaber training and won’t be available for sale.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the new “realistic” lightsaber promised to be a part of the Galactic Starcruiser experience, where the blade extends from the hilt like an actual lightsaber, seen in the video below.
Unfortunately, that lightsaber isn’t for guests to use or purchase. It’s strictly for use by the performers. I didn’t get to see the new lightsaber on my visit, so I have no details to share about it, but given how Kylo Ren and Rey are frequent sights at Galaxy’s Edge, I wouldn’t be surprised if they showed up on the Galactic Starcruiser at some point, fancy new laser swords in hand.
That said, the Galactic Starcruiser does have a boutique that sells all manner of merchandise, and a Disney rep said it’s likely some type of lightsaber will be available for sale there.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a Star Wars dream come true. Everything about it was insanely cool. It’s like playing a Star Wars video game in real life. You truly feel like you’ve stepped onto an actual starship and are a part of a Star Wars movie. The overall story is exciting, the ship itself is impressively built and overflowing with adventures waiting to be discovered, and the character interactions add a sense of fun and immersion. It says volumes that I only received a brief glimpse at what the Galactic Starcruiser, yet just about everything (except the rooms) was incredibly impressive.
For more details on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, including information on price, reservations, and more, check out our full guide to the Star Wars hotel experience.