As everyone knows, Star Wars stories are imaginative tales that are filled with drama, brimming with visual wizardry, and accented with well-executed cues of custom-tailored and emotive music selections. Until recently, all things Star Wars could only be experienced through movies, TV and streaming, comic books, video games, and the exciting simulation attraction Star Tours at Disney Parks. However, when Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opened at Disneyland May 2019 – and subsequently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios August 2019 – I thought that Disney reached the apex of Star Wars immersion. Guess what? I was wrong.
Recently, I had the privilege to participate in a special preview of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World Resort before it opened March 1, 2022. While I knew in advance that guests' stay aboard this vessel would be limited to two days, I had no idea that the onboard experience would be as immersive in the Star Wars universe as it turned out to be.
Guests arrive at the Galactic Starcruiser Terminal near Disney’s Hollywood Studios and check in for their two-night experience. Then, they enter a Launch Pod to begin their Star Wars story. Through viewports, they see their world fall away as they jump into hyperspace and draw closer to the 275-year-old Galactic Starcruiser, named Halcyon. Once the Launch Pod docks and the airlock opens, guests step into the Halcyon’s main deck Atrium to begin their journey through a galaxy far, far away.
Every moment onboard the Halcyon Starcruiser is Star Wars-centric, with each detail of the experience being meticulously crafted to create a compelling, immersive, and thoroughly entertaining experience. A visit on the Halcyon Starcruiser invites guests into an interactive story that interweaves with crew members, other passengers, droids and familiar Star Wars characters such as Rey, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren. As they choose alliances and chart their own courses, guests will likely encounter the Halcyon’s iron-willed and charismatic Captain Riyola Keevan, its perspicacious Cruise Director Lenka Mok, a Scoundrel with an ulterior motive, and numerous other characters – all of whom make the two nights aboard the Halcyon an extremely convincing experience, as if you are actually participating in a living and breathing reality of a Star Wars story.
Six years in the making, both Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and the planet Batuu at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge were developed at the same time, and the two experiences were designed to co-exist from the outset. To further reinforce this reality, guests staying aboard the Halcyon will visit Batuu on the second day of their voyage, and the storylines from their voyage will continue once they arrive on the "planet." Starcruiser passengers can participate in new missions throughout the land based on characters they’ve met onboard the Halcyon, and actions guests take while on Batuu may, then, have ramifications when they return to the Halcyon starcruiser. As part of their secret missions, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser guests receive one-time entry to the land’s two signature attractions – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
One important fact to note: Halcyon guests can deepen their engagement with characters and storylines by using the Play Disney Parks mobile app on their smart devices. Through the Star Wars: Datapad inside the app, guests can access a myriad of functions, including: events, communications ( or comms), layout maps of both the Halcyon and areas within Batuu, as well as showing passengers’ affiliations with either the Resistance or First Order throughout their journey.
Passenger accommodations aboard the Halcyon Starcruiser align with the more civilized and cosmopolitan-minded worlds within Star Wars (think Canto Bight and Naboo, but definitely not Tatooine or Mustafar!). And I must say, the comfort and amenities aboard the Halcyon are reminiscent of what you’ll find aboard a Disney Cruise Line vessel – just with Star Wars sensibilities. However, sleeping berths for the third and fourth guests sharing a cabin are similar in style as those seen in other famous Star Wars ships, such as the Millennium Falcon. Passenger cabins aboard the Halcyon also feature a viewport of space that continuously changes throughout the journey.
The Halcyon’s Crown of Corellia Dining Room is the ship’s supper club and offers a menu of fine dining from across the galaxy along with live entertainment. While the cuisine may look familiar to our side of the galaxy, rest assured, it is distinctly Star Wars. Delicacies such as the Iced Felucian Shrimp Cocktail, Seared Kashyyyk Whitefish, Braised Bantha Beef Short Rib, and the Chandrilan Air Cake all are presented in Star Wars style and are exceptionally delicious. (Just an FYI: All food colorings are 100 percent natural, so you don’t need to worry about contending with infamous global food coloring issues of the 1970s while aboard the Halcyon). And if you have special dietary requirements, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has you covered (simply make your request known upon making your voyage reservation).
Guests may also take advantage of playing Holo-Sabacc in the ship’s Sublight Lounge, in this unique game of skill, strategy, and chance.
Activities aboard the Halcyon are both equally thrilling and quintessentially Star Wars. Guests will have the opportunity to learn the ancient ways of the Jedi by learning how to wield a lightsaber while facing off against a training remote, just as Luke Skywalker once did. A visit to the Halcyon’s Bridge provides guests the opportunity to learn about the ship’s systems and how to operate them, including weapons and shields. These skills will likely come in handy during the voyage on the Halcyon.
The best way to sum up Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is as follows: It's one-quarter 360-degree Star Wars movie set experience, one-quarter space opera drama (and yes, Star Wars scoring abounds on the starcruiser), one-quarter game immersion, and one-quarter cruise-ship experience. This is two days of a WHOLE lot of mesmerizing fun and the ultimate fantastical escapism for families and Star Wars geeks alike! And all of this is made possible by the imaginative minds of Walt Disney Imagineering. With all the abundant and rich storytelling and visual eye candy with the Galactic Starcruiser, I can’t help but wonder what Disney has next for Star Wars. I shall patiently wait for even more goodness to come.