As if the May announcement of the closure of Galactic Starcruiser — the much-hyped Star Wars hotel at Walt Disney World that dared to ask, “what if you asked fans to spend literally thousands of dollars to LARP in a windowless building for two days?” — wasn’t bad enough, coming less than two years after the resort opened, this week’s Disney earnings call revealed just how much of a failure the hotel really was. Even just closing the hotel is going to cost Disney 250 million dollars in accelerated write-downs, according to the company.
To put that in even greater perspective: Galactic Starcruiser had just 100 rooms. That means that it is going to cost Disney $2.5 million to close each room.
Initially announced in summer 2017, Galactic Starcruiser was described by Walt Disney World 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 would be surrounded by in-character hosts and staff for their entire stay, as if they were literally vacationing on board a star cruiser from the Star Wars galaxy. In theory, it was a great idea — but the reality proved to be somewhat more troublesome.
For one thing, there was the fact that it would cost two people close to $5,000 for a two night stay, with a family of four paying closer to $6,000… and two-nights was the minimum stay at the hotel. The high price tag meant that the hotel struggled in terms of bookings from the very start — and that was before reviews that could at best be described as unconvinced started appearing online. While it was being sold as both a hotel and an immersive fan experience for Star Wars fans, it quickly became apparent that Galactic Starcruiser was more a very, very niche offering for fans who were willing to spend almost anything to live their dreams; after a packed first four months starting in March 2022, bookings reportedly started to fall off a cliff.
All of this might have meant we shouldn’t have been surprised when Disney announced that it was closing Galactic Starcruiser on September 30, but… well, almost everyone was. Especially those who had already booked rooms for after that date; Disney promised that it would contact those people to “discuss your options and modify your plans,” while also suspending new bookings between March and May to try to rebook guests who’d been caught short by the closure.
Disney has not commented on just how much Galactic Starcruiser took to construct, although the Washington Post estimated a cost of close to $1 billion. Now, the company can add another $250,000,000 to that total, according to Disney’s interim CFO Kevin Lansberry on the August 9 earnings call. The moral of this story? Maybe that a window or two would have been nice.
Is there a way to turn this significant loss into a win, as is the traditional Star Wars method? Who can tell? But let’s just say that if Disney+ debuts a new Star Wars show that appears to be set on an abandoned star cruiser in the next couple of years, we’ll know what happened to the building, if nothing else…
If all of this leaves you with a hankering to watch some Star Wars, we’re here for you. Just do it from the cheaper comfort of your own couch, maybe…?