Today is the last Star Wars Galactic Star Cruiser voyage.
Announced at D23 2017, three years after Diagon Alley opened and as part of Disney's "response" to Universal, the new hotel immediately sparked interest and speculation. How much would it cost? What would be involved? How long would the stay be? Would this be the true next step for themed entertainment? Will we get a Harry Potter experience?
Well, today, September 30, 2023, is the Star Cruiser's closing day. After a short 516 days of operation, shorter than Harmonious's 594 days by 2 1/2 months, the much-praised and maligned offering is shutting down. But Bob Chapek said the hotel was selling out months ahead of time, with tons of satisfied guests booking again. Turns out Chapek was kind of full of it, the Star Cruiser immediately started running into issues with guests and bookings. Soon after opening Cast Members were frequently being comped into the hotel to pad out the cruises while the staff on the ship were resigning due to mismanagement.
So what happened?
Well, I think there are a few factors in the failure of this ambitious themed entertainment experience...
Star Wars Hubris
Not for Florida
- Staffing - local artists and actors to fill the experience. Expand the stories out AND build a rotating bench of cast for the roles to prevent burnout and abuse.
- Affordability - $5k in California is different than $5k in Ohio or Georgia. More guests would be willing to buy into the experience.
- Expectations - instead of the vacation capital of the world it's the happiest place on earth. Locals buy into exclusive events and offerings more than at WDW, just see Club 33 and the parties.
- Design - The hotel with no windows and is all in-doors works better on Harbor Blvd than in Florida where the guests want sun.