Disney launched a new pricey full-immersion Star Wars hotel, Galactic StarCruiser, is struggling to fill voyages and making cuts to its product, but not the price.
Galactic StarCruiser New Hotel Concept
Earlier this year, Walt Disney World Resort launched its Star Wars Galactic StarCruiser all-inclusive hotel. The 2-night experience is like living in a Star Wars adventure from the time visitors arrive at the hotel. Once guests arrive, they are transported away to a Galactic StarCruiser, meant to be like a cruise ship in space.
The immersive experience will have guests interacting and choosing to be on either the side of the resistance (Jedi – good guys) or the Galactic Empire (bad guys) within the Star Wars Galaxy. Everything is themed, from the cabins to the meals, and even the lingo and events. Impromptu interactions take place around the ship (a stationary hotel with LCD screens for windows.) Shuttles take guests directly from the StarCruiser to Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars-themed land, though entrance tickets to the park are still required.
Pricing Has Been Prohibitive
From the start, the concern for most visitors has been the prohibitively high pricing for the two-day experience. It’s fair to say that the property is more than a hotel and includes food so it’s probably unfair to compare the price point to other hotels like Disney’s Grand Floridian or even the nearby Four Seasons (in the case of Orland0.)
However, even when looking at luxury cruises, the StarCruiser’s pricing is… out of this world. I couldn’t help it. This isn’t the first time that pricing for the experience has come under fire. Here’s what the current pricing starts from:
The least expensive option for the fullest allowable cabin is $749/person/night. For some perspective, on a 10-night Antarctica Expedition in a larger cabin, with better food, and an actual trip to the 7th continent, the nightly rate is $850 per person in a two-person cabin. For a two-person cabin in a Star Wars themed-hotel, the cost is $1,209/person.
“Despite generally positive reactions, some strong criticisms did persist, including the box truck transport to Batuu and the $6,000 average price point.” – WDWNT
Sales have apparently struggled following the initial surge, and availability for its busiest season appears fairly open. Low season is wide open.
Disney Cuts Services, Staff – Not Prices
According to Walt Disney World News Today, some “voyages” have been operating at just 25% of capacity. To offset lower demand, Disney has cut a second seating for dinner and is reducing hours for servers.
“Due to the low number of occupants, Cast Members — particularly servers — are losing hours. Just before the Galactic Starcruiser opened, they were reportedly struggling to recruit experienced servers. A loss of hours potentially reopens that issue if staff leave in favor of other employment.” – WDWNT
What makes this so odd, is that if a hotel experiences a 25% occupancy level, or a cruise for that matter, they reduce prices to get people onboard. Travelers spend money (even in all-inclusive experiences) on merchandise, in the park, park tickets, and on additional days they spend on resort property – but not if they decide not to go at all.
An insulting element to this is just how high the prices are and that despite low guest response (in terms of pricing, not satisfaction) Disney hasn’t moved the price at all. It begs the question, what would it take to make the experience more affordable for guests? Would Disney lower the price at 20% occupancy, 15% occupancy – would they lower the price at 10% occupancy?
It seems the brand would rather reduce what’s included, like dining flexibility, and staff rather than make it more palettable for travelers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to try this experience. I think many visitors to Disney, and fans of new travel options generally, would love a Galactic StarCruise. But prices have not moved despite low turnout on some voyages and Disney’s hubris is plainly out of control. With inflation and perhaps some of the insatiable post-COVID travel demand easing, Disney may have even tougher choices to make with this property, but will they cut prices or services? It appears the latter will be the case.
What do you think? Why hasn’t Disney cut prices for Galactic StarCruiser experiences? Will they cut services further (rather than prices) if demand remains the same?