Travel Tuesday: Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Review

Well, it finally happened. Months after my friends and I booked our stay aboard the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World, our adventure took place last week. Having returned to Earth, I have a lot of thoughts on this pricey and unique experience — but I thought I’d start by sharing a review of the hotel itself.

I need to note off the bat that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is far from your average hotel as it places an emphasis on story immersion and experience. Nevertheless, I’m going to attempt to look at just the room and amenities parts of the equation. With that, let’s get into what the Starcruiser accommodations have to offer.

A Look at the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Aspects

What is the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?

For those of you who may be completely lost already, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a new offering at the Walt Disney World Resort. As the name implies, this is a Star Wars-themed experience that sees guests boarding the Halcyon for a two-night adventure. The central story concept is that guests are actually boarding a luxury starliner (or starcruiser, if you will) with a port day at Batuu — AKA Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Thus, while this is a hotel, it’s set up akin to a cruise, complete with an all-inclusive pricing plan. And although Disney won’t hold you captive if you need to venture back to Earth for any reason, the intent is that guests will stay on board throughout the two-night, two-day experience aside from their visit to Batuu. That’s because, while you’re dining and enjoying other activities on board, a story will unfold around you in a completely immersive way. Of course, part of that immersion involves your stateroom and the ship’s various amenities, which I’ll discuss below. 

Pricing

If you’ve read anything about the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, you’ve probably heard that it’s quite an expensive experience. That’s definitely true, as the total cost for our party of four (sharing one standard room) came to more than $6,600. Granted, this does cover your two-night stay, most of you dining outside of alcoholic and specialty beverages, park admission on Day 2, and some other special treats.

That said, the cost could climb higher depending on the dates you select, the room type you opt for, and the number of people in your party — or could be slightly cheaper with fewer people, although the per-person cost would likely be higher. Again, I can’t overstate the fact that this price factors in the entire Starcruiser experience beyond the hotel aspects I’ll be covering, so whether or not it’s “worth it” will definitely depend on your level of Star Wars fandom, your appetite for live-action role play, and of course financial factors that will dictate whether or not a trip aboard the Halcyon is an attainable experience for you.

Arrival

On the day you board the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, you’ll arrive at the terminal location found near Disney’s Hollywood Studios (newly-installed signs will lead you there). If you’re driving, you’ll be able to valet park your car as Cast Members grab your baggage for delivery to your room.

Alternatively, bus service to the Galactic Starcruiser is offered from Disney Springs, although this is only available to registered guests. Based on our experience, it also seems that Uber/Lyft and taxi drop offs are also allowed. 

The earliest guests will be able to access the Halcyon is 1 p.m. However, we arrived a bit after noon on the day of our voyage to begin our check-in process. In this case, after being given our special M-Bands (Disney MagicBands with an exclusive Halcyon design), we joined a growing queue of other guests waiting to board.

During our wait, there was plenty of time to snap some photos in front of the building’s sign and Cast Members handed us our complimentary waters to ensure all of us guests were hydrated while waiting in the Florida weather. Then, at 1 p.m., the line began to enter the building and proceed through security. From there, after viewing a safety video that detailed the difference between story alerts and real-life emergency alerts, we boarded our transport to the Halcyon.

When you exit the elevator — I mean, transport ship — you’ll arrive in the atrium of the Halcyon. It’s a pretty breathtaking moment, to be sure, which may leave guests feeling a little unsure of what to do next. Luckily, crew members were there to greet us and show us to our room, while also giving an overview of the ship’s layout. If that isn’t enough for you, there are also Halcyon orientations that take place for the first few hours before the story gets going around 4 p.m.

The room

As cool as the Halcyon’s atrium is, your stateroom maybe even better in my opinion. Accessible by tapping your M-Band and opening a sliding door, the standard room includes one queen-sized bed, two bunk-style beds, and an additional Murphy bed.

Of course, while these sleeping quarters are eye-catching in their own right, the “window” is easily the centerpiece of the room. From here, you can view passing ships, planets, and more — and also see when the ship jumps to warp speed. Lest you worry about this bright window keeping you up, there is a screen you can place down when sleeping. 

I will note that, for whatever reason, we were placed in an accessible room. Thus, we’re guessing that our room may have been slightly wider than others and that our shower was likely different. That said, on the note of the shower, I loved that there was both a handheld and rainfall showerhead that you could switch between. Other than that, while I liked the bathroom overall, there was nothing really that notable about it to me.

Returning to the main part of the room, don’t let the photos deceive you — the bunk beds are actually quite spacious, with neither adult in our party having any complaints about them. Meanwhile, I can speak from personal experience that the queen bed was perfectly comfortable, with bedding that was very much to my liking. None of us actually tried the Murphy bed, but it looked like an acceptable option if you’re looking to get an extra guest into your room. 

On that note, with four adults in the room, we did worry a bit about how much space we’d have. Luckily, this didn’t turn out to be an issue (although the accessible room part may have helped). In addition to having a closet and other storage space, there was also room to place bags under one side of the bed. I was also a bit surprised to find that there was a mini-fridge in the room, located in the hallway area of the room.

As you’d expect from a hotel room, the Halcyon’s stateroom also comes equipped with a television. By default, this will show you a themed map and has some other ship-oriented features. Yet, breaking the immersive element, you can choose to watch a selection of Earth channels or even connect to Disney+ by casting your mobile device. Admittedly, we used this to stream Moon Knight after the conclusion of our second day as it had just debuted that morning. 

Last but certainly not least, there is also a control panel where you’ll find a telephone, thermostat, and a droid link. That’s right — a droid link. After hitting the button and tapping your M-Band, you’ll connect to D3-09.

D3-09 Droid

This impressive AI demo was honestly one of my favorite parts of the experience, combining humor, interactivity, and technology. She also adds some story elements throughout your journey, so check back for messages.

Speaking of stories, we also really enjoyed the bedtime story she read to us one our first night. Personally, I’m really excited to see how Disney can build on this concept but this is definitely a fun start. 

Overall, while we didn’t spend a ton of time in the room, we were all very pleased with the accommodations. Having feared that it’d be close quarters, that was unfounded as the four of us were quite comfortable. I should also note that, unlike most hotels these days, housekeeping was available to make up the room on the second day — although you can opt-out of this by tapping the “lock” icon near the door. 

Dining

I’ve never actually been on a cruise but, one thing I keep hearing about them is how they’re filled with food. Sure enough, the same is true of the Halcyon. In addition to two full dinner services, two lunch buffets, a meal credit for your trip to Batuu, two breakfast buffets, and a dessert service, there are also treats available in the atrium, at the Sublight Lounge, and elsewhere during your journey. And while you’ll need to shell out for any alcoholic beverage or specialty non-alcoholic drinks, the food is seemingly unlimited with your booking.

When you first board the Starcruiser, the Crown of Corellia dining room opens for lunch service. Some of our favorite items here included the Fire-Melted Cheese Takeaway (which called to mind the flavor of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits and were served with tomato soup), the Tip Yip mac and cheese (“tip yip” means “chicken” – this is two cubed chicken nuggets and some classic mac and cheese), and some of the desserts. That said, this being a buffet, the quality of your selection can depend on how recently they were put out.

Moving on to dinner, unlike during buffet hours, your party will have an assigned table and server for both nights. And while the theme and menu for both nights is different, both are served “family style,” meaning that you can request more of anything you’d like. Pro tip: you can even add items featured on the kid’s menu, which I’d recommend, as you’ll see in a moment.

Night One is the more casual of the two services and features a performance by Gaya. To start the meal, your party can share some galactic bao buns along with some other items. Among the main course selections are Bantha Beef Tenderloin, Tip Yip (think sesame or sweet and sour chicken), and more. All of these were tasty to me but my favorite items actually came from something we asked for off of the kid’s menu: waffle fries. Yes, we admittedly assumed these would be akin to the side dish found at Chick-fil-A and elsewhere but were surprised to find they were actually shredded potato baked into a waffle shape — yum!

Jumping ahead to night two, this dinner service is themed to a taste of the galaxy. Each course is inspired by a different planet in the Star Wars canon, introduced by a member of the culinary team, and brought out simultaneously by the entire wait staff. The highlight here was the Bantha Short Ribs, although I enjoyed some other items as well (and, yes, we ordered more waffle fries for good measure).

Overall, I was personally happy with both services, although some of the others in my party weren’t quite as impressed. I’d have to imagine that this stems from the logistics and restrictions of how these meals are served, emphasizing quantity over quality a bit. Thus, for true foodies, this part of the experience may be lackluster while those like me who are more easily pleased might not mind as much.

Additional Food and Drink Options

As I mentioned earlier, there is plenty of food to be found outside of the standard meals as well. For example, while the Sublight Lounge offers a number of alcoholic beverages for sale, they also have a food menu you can order from during operating hours (which I believe was up until 1 a.m. on the first night and 2 a.m. the second).

A slightly smaller but similar menu was also available in the atrium. One item I tried from this menu was the Crunchy Green Beans. When ordering, I actually expected something like breaded or tempura green beans. Instead, these were dehydrated green beans that were unlike anything I’ve had before. Were they my favorite thing ever? Not exactly — but I did thoroughly enjoy them and found them to be very interesting, as did the rest of my party.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for even more snacks, they can be found at the cruise services stand at various points throughout the day. I especially recommend Chandrila Star Line cookies, which we may or may not have grabbed a few extras for before departing.

Lastly, for your day on Batuu, you’ll be given a dining credit. In my experience, the easiest way to use this was to place a mobile order using the My Disney Experience app. Also notable is that you don’t technically need to use it in Galaxy’s Edge and can venture “off planet” if you want. Yet, while we did travel beyond Batuu to other parts of the park, I ended up redeeming my credit for a Ronto Wrap and a drink at Ronto Roasters, which I quite enjoyed. Meanwhile, my wife used hers at nearby Docking Bay 7. In both cases, we were able to place our mobile orders, see that our credit was being applied, and pick up our orders easily.

What the Halcyon does and doesn’t have

While the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser does have some of the amenities of a hotel or cruise ship, there are a few others that it’s missing. For example, you won’t find a fitness room or swimming pool onboard (although you may get plenty of exercise between completing missions and exploring Batuu). However, there are a few other amenities worth noting.

First, unlike “real” cruise ships where WiFi access may cost you a pretty penny, complimentary WiFi is available onboard. Elsewhere, for your trip to Batuu, there’s a transport shuttle service available during select hours on your second day. Back on the ship, you’ll find a number of “in-world” costumes, collectibles, and more at the shop, which is open on days one and two. When you check out on day three, these items are no longer available but a selection of other souvenirs are available as you exit. 

Something else I feel I should mention is the Climate Simulator. As the story goes, this area is meant to simulate the climate of the ship’s destination — in this case, Batuu. Dropping kayfabe, this is an outdoor terrace where you can escape for some fresh air and sunlight if galactic cruise ship life gets you down. There are also some very zen rock stacking to be done out on this deck. But, as I mentioned earlier, if you need to leave the ship for any reason (including needing to smoke), you can ask a crew member for directions back to the real world.

My brief thoughts on the experience

I know I said I was going to focus on the hotel aspects of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser but I can’t help but share at least a few thoughts on the overall experience. First, my wife and I both had an amazing time onboard, sporting big smiles on our faces for nearly two days straight.

Second, the cast of this production is unbelievable. From the actual performers to the other crew members who provided outstanding service at every turn, every person we met was super friendly and absolutely perfect for their role. 

Going into it, I was worried that I’d miss out by not getting into the LARPing (live-action role play) side of things. That’s why I was surprised to find that I was able to find plenty of enjoyment just completing missions on my “datapad” — AKA cell phone, which I actually borrowed from Disney in a bid to preserve the battery in my actual device. These datapad missions then parlayed into in-person experience on day 2, which I think worked quite well. All of this led up to the thrilling finale, which I won’t spoil. 

As for the other perks, it was great to not only have priority access to both Galaxy’s Edge attractions — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — but to also experience other parts of Batuu by completing additional missions while on planet.

I also really like the specialty M-Band we received, although I wish it’d been one of the upcoming MagicBand+s coming soon to the resort. Apparently, there was also a special pin we were supposed to receive on day 2 as part of our trip to Batuu, but we got buttons on our journey instead. One of my friends did inquire about this and was told they’d be mailing the pins (presumably supply chain issues are to blame), so we’ll see if that eventually happens.

So was it worth it? Well, my wife put it perfectly: while we can’t exactly justify the cost, we don’t regret spending the money. In the end, we had a great time and it was very cool to be able to escape reality for a couple of days. Therefore, I’m very glad we got to experience the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser in its early days and look forward to seeing how this big swing by Disney evolves in the months and years ahead.

Make no mistake that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is much more than just the “Star Wars hotel” that some headlines might lead you to believe it is. In fact, if you’re just viewing it as a place to stay for two days, you’d be spending an awful lot for a small-ish room and unlimited pretty-good-but-not-outstanding food.

With that said, even setting aside the rest of the immersive adventure, the room and amenities of the Halcyon make for a unique experience in their own right. Namely, I thought our stateroom was pitch-perfect with its blend of practicality and theming (even if no one would mistakenly believe they were actually in space). Ultimately, if you are planning a trip on the Galactic Starcruiser, I believe that these elements combined with everything else the excursion has to offer will leave you satisfied if you’re okay spending the money in the first place.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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