Why the Star Wars Hotel Failed

“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is one of our most creative projects ever and has been praised by our guests and recognized for setting a new bar for innovation and immersive entertainment. This premium, boutique experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms, and as we prepare for its final voyage, we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our guests and fans.”

Disney’s statement on the closure of the Galactic Starcruiser in September 2023 (via Deadline)

It feels like yesterday when we were all gawking at the newly announced price tag of the Galactic Starcruiser Hotel. For two nights, two people, you could expect to pay nearly USD 5,000 ( USD 6,000 for a family of four). The price did include food on the Starcruiser and admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but it was clear from the beginning that this was not for the average park-goer.

Now that the dust has settled and we can wipe away our “shock” that the Galactic Starcruiser Hotel is closing its doors for good, let’s revisit Disney’s newest failed attraction.

1. Disney Tried to Frankenstein

Disney Wish is newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line and a new way to experience Disney | credit Disney Cruise Line

When Disney revealed the Galactic Starcruiser’s details, I questioned whether there were that many Star Wars fans that would spend that amount of money once influencers and early adapters left. And that perhaps a premium hotel based on a four-quadrant franchise was not a great idea. I also compared the cost to the staple hotel, The Grand Floridian, which did not require confinement within its walls for two days. Spoiler- Galactic Starcruiser was around twice as much as The Grand Floridian. Granted, it does not come with food and experiences, but you are still in Disney World. The park IS the experience.

I also called the hotel a stationary Cruiseline because you are confined to a Disney Cruiseship while traveling between ports. And Disney Cruiselines are immensely popular. The newest ship in the fleet, Disney Wish, has its’ own Star Wars experiences with a lounge for adults and a Cargo Bay for kids where you can see some of the same creatures from Galaxy’s Edge. But, unlike the Starcruiser, you are ACTUALLY going somewhere on a real ship. You are not in a fictional spaceship.

So the Galactic Starcruiser tried to combine two popular elements of their empire in the worse way: asking visitors to pay high prices not to go anywhere. Even the mouse house can’t Frankenstein a premium experience.

2. They Targeted Families Instead of the New Golden Goose: Disney Adults

A generic photo of adults at Disneyland | credit Walt Disney

BUT if the hotel were ever going to succeed, it would not be because of families. A better target would have been the Disney adults. Yes, Disney adults are an actual thing.

The number of couples and people without kids has grown significantly (and shows no signs of slowing down). There is a term for that, too: DINK (dual income, no kids). With the additional discretionary income, traveling would be an attractive hobby. Disney theme parks and experiences have become a part of their itinerary, so much so that Disney adults have been a point of contention and pointless discussion. As long as someone is not hurting others or breaking laws, it should not matter how they spend their money on leisure activities.

And Disney adults might be inclined to blow a couple of thousand on an “experience” if marketing did not lean heavily towards families. Just have two days of fine food and wine. Galaxy’s Edge is already the least kid-friendly part of the park, with only two rides, high-price replicas, and one of the few places that serve alcohol at Olga’s Cantina.

This goes back to the issue of having such a steep price of admission for a family franchise that continues to expand its reach. Everything in Galaxy’s Edge feels built for high-income Disney adults who can afford $200+ lightsabers and can drink alcohol after waiting in line for hours for Rise of Resistance. Families probably spend most of their time in Magic Kingdom and other parts of Hollywood Studios (like Pixar Land). The Galactic Starcruiser tried to lure families into a park not (yet) built for them while putting off the one group that made sense.

If Disney had waited a few years when Galaxy’s Edge had more attractions and solid identity, a hotel experience would have been more complimentary and less of a “this or that” decision. Asking families to pay that much for a small part of the park is a tall order, but it could have been another coveted experience for high-earning singles and couples.

3. A Case of Poor Timing and Rotten Luck

Simply put, a pandemic followed by high inflation and a shaky global economy is not ideal for a premium hotel opening. Especially when many cheaper, high-quality hotels around the park have decades of brand recognition and history to attract park attendees. Add to that Florida’s descent into madness, and the consumers for the Galactic Starcruiser likely diminished significantly after the novelty wore off.

There are two good things to come out of this. The first — the Galactic Starcruiser has not been around long enough or had enough visitors to be a fond memory and will likely be forgotten in ten years. And if anyone can rebound with a new beloved attraction, it’s Disney. However, whatever comes next on that land will need to be a home run, which probably means it needs to be accessible to more park visitors.

And the second — We will get a Galactic Starcruiser video one day on Defunctland.