Star Wars

Jenny Nicholson’s Star Wars Hotel Video Exposes a Bigger Disney Problem

Don’t have time to watch the 4-hour YouTube video? Here’s the most important info.

Rey battles Kylo Ren as part of the media preview of the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Experience a...
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There’s a hierarchy to the world of Star Wars storytelling. At the top are the movies and TV shows, the base-level stories most accessible to fans. Next, you have supplementary materials: novels, comics, and podcasts (also cool, but not strictly necessary to understand the greater story). And sitting at the very bottom is the most exclusive level of Star Wars canon: the worldbuilding only accessible in the Disney Parks.

Today, this is mostly limited to the Galaxy’s Edge areas in Disneyland and Disney World where fans can explore the unruly planet Batuu during the era of the Star Wars sequels. But in 2022, Disney expanded this tier of storytelling with Galactic Starcruiser, an interactive and fully immersive hotel where fans could live out their Star Wars fantasies — for a jaw-dropping price.

18 months after it opened, Galactic Starcruiser shut its doors for good.

So what went wrong? In a four-hour video that instantly went viral, YouTuber Jenny Nicholson dives deep into Disney’s biggest Star Wars blunder, exposing that the problem was far worse than a hefty price tag.

Nicholson is known to her fans as a fervent fan of both Star Wars and theme parks. So it’s no surprise that she goes deep on this topic, breaking down every element of her two-night (the only length of stay offered) adventure “aboard” the hotel-cum-41-hour-RPG. The so-called “immersive experience” was supposed to place the viewer on the Halcyon, a storied starcruiser renowned for its luxury resort service. (It was even where Han and Leia spent their honeymoon.)

However, Nicholson’s experience was far from luxury. Despite paying around $3000 per person for her stay, the rooms resembled the Narkina 5 prison in Andor more than a honeymoon suite. While the food was all-inclusive, much of the experience was nickel-and-dimed, from craft kits in the gift shop to alcoholic drinks in the lounge. Even the dinner show, featuring in-universe superstar Gaya, was impossible to see because she was seated behind a large column.

Despite impressive animatronic elements, the “immersive” aspects of the Galactic Starcruiser fell flat.

Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

But the biggest failure of the experience was the “gameplay.” Each immersive activity and “scene” was organized through an app, which was supposed to determine where your loyalties lie between three branching storylines: smuggler, Resistance, and First Order. Nicholson went into the experience with a storyline (and original character) in mind. She portrayed Amiithia Tope, a Coruscant influencer/socialite who supports the First Order. However, the cast members playing the characters roaming the ship didn’t play along.

Neither did the app. Through some glitch or technical problem (or possibly just lazy design) the Galactic Starcruiser app didn’t register any of Jenny’s choices throughout the experience, instead seemingly setting her on one of its storylines at random. While characters would “message” players through the app to provide tasks and updates, even these chatbots would ghost her, leaving the breakneck schedule (guests run from activity to activity with very few breaks for hours) to be populated randomly.

Between the high price and the disappointing experience (which Nicholson proves wasn’t unique to her own trip, although some fans online maintain the experience is worthwhile), it’s no surprise that Galactic Starcruiser failed. But what this video ultimately uncovers feels even more nefarious. Nicholson concludes that the entire story of the doomed Star Wars hotel is just the most blatant example of Disney’s entire modern theme park strategy: prices keep going up, while the experience keeps getting worse.

Whether Galactic Starcruiser turns out to be the warning sign Disney needed to course-correct or just the first domino to fall remains to be seen. But Nicholson’s video makes one thing clear: the Star Wars hotel was always doomed to fail.

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