Disney Announces It's Closing Another Florida Property After Fans Complain About High Prices
Walt Disney World has announced it is decommissioning its Galactic Starcruiser, a two-day “immersive experience” for “Star Wars” fans that came with an out-of-this-world price tag.
Billed as something far more than a two-night hotel stay, the attraction brought participants aboard as fellow passengers who interacted with costumed sci-fi characters, took lightsaber training and chose between the good Force and the evil Dark Side, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The attraction’s final two-day “voyage” will be Sept. 28-30, less than two years after its March 2022 opening, according to the report.
CNBC described the attraction as an “experience” that “blends elements of the company’s resorts, cruise lines and theme parks into a 48-hour romp in space.”
During the two-day “voyage,” CNBC explained, “a First Order officer and several stormtroopers board the ship to root out Resistance spies. Alongside these villains there are spies, musicians, rebels and reluctant heroes, everything that makes up a Star Wars story.
“And, of course, some familiar faces also appear, including Chewbacca, Rey and Kylo Ren.”
The 24/7 immersive entertainment format did not come cheap; a family of four could expect to pay close to $6,000 for standard quarters or up to $20,000 for a spacious “tricked-out suite,” the New York Post reported in February 2022, shortly before Galactic Starcruiser opened.
The jaw-dropping price included food and drink (except alcohol), admission to Galaxy’s Edge (Disney’s “Star Wars” themed attraction) and “a supper club performance with cameos from popular characters like Yoda,” the Post reported, adding, “While the astronomically high-priced cabins do not have any windows, guests will instead get a view of screens playing videos of stars, planets and asteroid showers.”
The unique format brought high marks from guests and even a Thea Award “for outstanding achievement in the themed entertainment space,” CNBC reported.
However, the down-to-earth fact of the matter appears to be that, despite the high price tag, the attraction was not profitable.
The Tampa Bay Times quoted theme park expert Dennis Speigel as saying Disney’s announcement of the planned closure “does not come as a shock.”
“It was expensive to operate, and the personnel weren’t your typical staffers, more like entertainers,” he said. “And that costs more money.”
The giant entertainment conglomerate recently announced extensive staffing cuts and said Thursday that it was canceling a $1 billion campus in Florida, implying the decision was at least in part due to ongoing battles between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
However, Jeremy Redfern, press secretary to DeSantis, pointed to a different explanation for Disney’s actions.
“This entire story [of recently canceled Disney projects] was just corporate propaganda to distract from their failed $6000 two-night Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experiment,” Redfern said in a Twitter post.
He then added, with more than an undertone of sarcasm, “Who would have thought that $6000 for a two-night stay was unaffordable for most families?”
This entire story was just corporate propaganda to distract from their failed $6000 two-night Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experiment.
Who would have thought that $6000 for a two-night stay was unaffordable for most families? https://t.co/EJOEttJtPb
— Jeremy Redfern (@JeremyRedfernFL) May 19, 2023
Shortly after Disney’s announcement of the Galactic Starcruiser’s closing was made public, social media users pounced on the opportunity to lament the sky-high pricing and other aspects of the attraction.
“Everyone saw this coming from a light year away,” one user observed.
“It was the [cost] of a luxury vacation to sleep in tiny cramped little underground rooms and it required a constant live cast working more or less around the clock. It was neat, but it was impractical.”
Everyone saw this coming from a light year away.
It was the costs of a luxury vacation to sleep in tiny cramped little underground rooms and it required a constant live cast working more or less around the clock.
It was neat, but it was impractical.https://t.co/u3yCOlLRaq
— A Nash By Any Other Name Would Still Be a Bot (@Nash076) May 18, 2023
Many Reddit users who chimed in focused on the hotel’s high price and bland exterior.
“It looks like an actual maximum security prison from the exterior. What a waste of money for everyone,” one said.
Another remarked, “Hmmmm…so you mean to tell me that Disney opened a crappy, cinder-block hotel filled with bad cosplay, cheap sets, silly acting theatre, basic arcade games, cell-like beds, and bland space windows, charged $5,000+ for a two-night stay…and somehow, this did not attract the average person into purchasing said experience enough to keep it afloat?”
At least one Twitter user joked about the facility being repurposed into “Reedy Creek State Prison,” a reference to the special tax district at the heart of the DeSantis-Disney battle last year.
BREAKING: Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser to Be Converted Into Reedy Creek State Prison pic.twitter.com/sI6cd8u2w6
— Phil • The Horizoneer (@TheHorizoneer) May 18, 2023
The Motley Fool financial site speculated that Disney’s decision to offer discounted stays was the beginning of the end for the attraction.
“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was doomed the moment that it offered its first promotion in January, giving its guests as much as a $700 discount when combined with a traditional Disney World resort stay. It would be hard to get back to retail pricing after that,” the site reported.
“The markdowns eventually widened to a 30% discount on select springtime ‘sailings’ for annual passholders, Disney credit cardholders, and members of the Disney Vacation Club. As demand continued to soften, Disney started to pare back on the actual number of voyages.”
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