There’s a new Force pulling Star Wars fans from all over the world to Orlando, Florida, after Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an immersive two-day, two-night adventure, launched at Walt Disney World on March 1. If the thought of donning a Jedi robe, rubbing shoulders with Chewbacca, and guzzling bottomless blue milk sounds up your alley, you’ll have a good feeling about this trip. My Star Wars-obsessed family had the chance to take the two-night voyage on Galactic Starcruiser as part of a media preview just before the public maiden voyage and this was most definitely the experience we were looking for.
A misnomer to call it simply a hotel, a “voyage” aboard the Halcyon starcruiser simulates a luxury space cruise across the galaxy (though you’ll never actually leave Florida). Guests are put squarely in control of this choose-your-own Star Wars adventure and our 45 hours on the Halcyon flew by as we explored the ship’s inner workings, forged alliances with characters, dined on galactic cuisine, learned to wield a lightsaber, and played Sabacc while sipping out-of-this-world cocktails in the Sublight Lounge.
Boarding the ‘Ship’
Guests embark on their adventure by boarding a “Launch Pod” and making the jump to hyperspace as iconic John Williams melodies set the emotional tone for the voyage. Airlock (aka elevator doors) swoosh open to reveal the Halcyon’s sleek, sparkling atrium where passenger services crew members greet and escort guests to cabins.
Laid out like a traditional cruise ship, but unmistakably Star Wars, standard cabins sleep five in a queen-size bed, two bunks (large enough for adults but a kid’s dream come true), and a pull-down bed. In place of a window, a viewport reveals space vistas of passing ships and nearby planets. For larger families or those looking to spread out, Galaxy Class and Grand Captain Suites add additional living space.
The Halcyon’s similarities to a cruise ship are “very deliberate,” says Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director for Lucasfilm.
“It was very important to us that we relate it to something we experience on earth,” Chiang said about the Halcyon and its cabins. “We want to make sure that it feels authentic — it feels like you’re really on a cruise ship. And knowing that we were using that as a framework, we gave it a veneer of ‘Star Wars.’”
Choosing Your Path
Billed as “the most immersive ‘Star Wars’ story ever created — one where you live a bespoke experience and journey further into a ‘Star Wars’ adventure than you ever dreamed possible,” guests are encouraged to dress the part and arrive with a backstory — or just an open mind.
We found ourselves playing active roles right alongside Star Wars characters — and establishing alliances. We arrived as a family but splintered off, some of us becoming operatives spying for the Resistance, First Order loyalists summoned to a secret meeting deep in the ship’s Engineering Room, and even pilots in training, helping the captain initiate the Halcyon’s jump to hyperspace.
“This is the only time you’re ever going to have an experience like this where you can interact for a prolonged period of time with a character and that gives you such a unique way to connect with them,” says Matt Martin, senior creative executive at Lucasfilm. “One of the most rewarding parts of this is watching those character interactions and seeing people become friends with people that are in Star Wars.”
Ever since Luke Skywalker’s first sip of blue milk, fans have been captivated by thoughts of what the other-worldly food of the Star Wars universe might taste like. Meals on the Halcyon are exotically presented but flavors are familiar enough to appeal to the unadventurous.
Breakfast and lunch are a vibrant array of exquisitely plated dishes served bento-style, with guests assembling their own meals like culinary puzzles on a sectioned tray. And yes, there’s unlimited Blue and Green Milk.
Dinners double as entertainment, with a table-service supper club-style meal and live performance by Gaya, a Twi’lek galactic superstar on the first night.
On the second night, a “Taste Around the Galaxy” dining experience showcases dishes from planets from Mustafar to Kashyyyk (including a bright blue Iced Felucian Shrimp Cocktail that had the internet abuzz long before anyone boarded the ship).
A Planetary Port Excursion
Just like a real cruise, guests return to solid ground on day two for a journey to the Outer Rim planet of Batuu, aka Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests will remain in the story, traveling to the land in an immersive transport shuttle and entering the park through a dedicated entrance that feels parsecs away from the park’s nearby Toy Story Land and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride. Special recognition as Halcyon passengers and fast-tracked access to both of the land’s rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, make Starcruiser guests feel like VIPs.
Save Your Credits
The two-night experience starts at $4,809 for two guests and includes a two-night stay, food and drinks (excluding alcoholic and specialty beverages), valet parking, entertainment, themed M-Band (aka MagicBand), and admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including lunch while in the park.
Bringing Kids on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
At about $6,000 for the two-night voyage for four, families will want to take into account a number of factors — including kids’ ages and interests — to ensure they’re choosing the best time to go and getting maximum value out of this premium experience. For a more detailed account of our family’s experience aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, plus tips for bringing kids, read our Guide to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser With Kids on Better.
Brooke Geiger McDonald is the national content director of Make It Better Media Group. A Chicago native, she has worked for publications like O, The Oprah Magazine and SHAPE Magazine and her work has appeared in The Points Guy, Parents, TravelPulse, Attractions Magazine, MSN, Disney Food Blog, and more. Follow her on Instagram @brookegmcdonald and Twitter @BrookeGMcDonald.