All Aboard the Halcyon: Disney Continues to Change the Future of Immersive Entertainment

Photo courtesy of Disney

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, opened its doors to guests on March 1, 2022. Located on Disney World property in Orlando, Florida, this hotel offers a one-of-a-kind immersive experience complete with unique dining options, interaction with aliens and free-roaming robots, and an itinerary filled with activities taken right from the film screen. 

This new hotel provides the illusion of a galactic cruise aboard The Halcyon, taking guests on an interstellar vacation. Upon entering, travelers are transported into the Star Wars universe, as the illusion of launching into hyperspace sends guests to a galaxy far far away. 

A stay at the Galactic Starcruiser provides an experience unlike any traditional hotel, thanks to guests’ ability to participate in a truly immersive adventure, where your actions in the hotel determine how your experience will unfold. From crossing wires in the engine room to being integrated by stormtroopers, It’s a stay shaped by your individual desires and decisions. 

Disney’s innovative idea suggests that guests remain on hotel premises for the entire duration of their stay, aside from a stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a planetary expedition at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This encourages guests to suspend their disbelief, and feel like they are a part of the Star Wars universe.  

At the hefty rate of $5,000 for a two-night stay, which includes a cabin or suite, and meals, potential guests are left wondering if the amenities and state-of-the-art technologies are worth this price tag. 

From the implementation of Audio-Animatronics in Disneyland’s 1963‘s attraction “The Enchanted Tiki Room” to the character costumes present at the park’s opening, Disney has long been paving the way for immersive entertainment. In fact, Disneyland’s creation as a whole set a precedent for theme parks to come such as Six Flags and Cedar Point. 

Disney has, however, experienced some failure in regards to their experimental ideas, which is exactly what happened with the opening of their 2001 park, “California Adventure.” The theme park was born from the idea of attractions inspired by California’s history, rather than an intellectual property based land which had been their specialty. At the park’s opening, guests were disappointed with the lack of Disney theming and did not understand the appeal of attractions based on California, when they could just exit the park and explore the actual state. This misstep resulted in the company taking a large hit financially and in terms of reputation. 

The existence of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser begs the question, will other companies follow suit with the creation of immersive hotels? Or will this concept fade into obscurity as an expensive failure for Disney?

By: Lily Spanbauer