Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has unveiled its much-hyped new luxury Star Wars-themed hotel, with family rooms costing around $6,000 (€5,372) per stay.
he Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel – described by Disney as “a two-night immersive” adventure – opened to Disney guests from March 1, following a mixed reaction to preview images and videos released by the brand.
Galactic Starcruiser’s two-night-minimum “journeys” see guests boarding a futuristic vessel called the Halcyon for a simulated cruise to a planet from the Star Wars universe, complete with a cast of actors and various interactive experiences around the spaceship-styled set.
These start at $4,809 (€4,306) for two people, or $5,999 (€5,371) for a family of four – based on weeknight stays – but go up to $20,000 (€17,910) for the highest-end suite.
The New York Timeswhich had a preview last week, called it “equal parts luxury hotel, interactive theater, theme park ride, food as entertainment, digital scavenger hunt and role-playing game” where “guests are encouraged to dress in Star Wars garb”.
The run-up to the hotel’s launch has been blighted by criticism around price point and quality, with many fans of the franchise criticizing the prohibitive rates and debating how luxurious the experience, shown in promotional videos, looks.
Following largely negative comments on a YouTube preview last November, Disney even removed the video – though it was never attributed its disappearance to viewers’ reactions.
Photography released by Disney shows utilitarian-looking black, white and orange cabins with double beds, hollowed-out bunk beds for kids and interactive TV screens, alongside more impressive, high-ceilinged communal spaces where much of the action takes place.
Room rates also include valet parking at Disney World Orlando, all the activities, meals and entertainment onboard, one-day admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, tickets to the park’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction and fast-track passes to other Disney Star Wars rides .
They do not include alcohol for adults, which early visitors report costs around $13.50 (€12) for a beer and $23 (€20.60) per themed cocktail.
Much of the immersive experience depends on which team you are “recruited” to join; Interactions with actors, such as being tasked with delivering a message or informing on fellow passengers to a passing stormtrooper, also feature heavily.
There is also supper-club style entertainment with futuristic-looking tasting menus and “alien” entertainers, and high-tech moments where a hologram of Yoda pops up to talk to you.
One particular experience came under fire from those who haven’t yet visited: a low-tech looking “lightsaber training” area.
A clip of fans trying out the experience was shared on The Disney Information Station’s YouTube channel last week, to a lukewarm reception from Skywalker fans.
“This looks more like training to become the person who guides taxiing airplanes to their arrival gate,” said one YouTube viewer, while another commented, “I’ll buy a cheap lightsaber and flashlight to replicate this for my kid. I’ll save $5,950!”
“It’s more about the vibe than anything else,” said a Polygon.com reporter who was invited to a press preview, while acknowledging that the venue “may be a disappointment” for fans who fork out.
“I never, ever (ever) would have paid what it costs to take my family to this thing,” wrote one Gizmodo.com reporter who attended the preview.
“But when presented with the opportunity to do it for free, I certainly didn’t say no.
“Since few others are likely to be lucky enough to visit when the hotel opens to the public next week, barring some sort of Make-A-Wish-level tragedy, I’m here to tell you all about it, and help you decide whether it’s worth the money.
“The short answer? No. But it really is incredibly cool.”