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Disney is struggling to attract bookings for new Star Wars hotel which sees guests pay up to $20,000

Bynewsmagzines

Mar 9, 2023
The exterior of the windowless $20,000 per stay Disney Star Wars themed hotel in Orlando

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Disney is rearranging the schedule of its billion-dollar Star Wars themed hotel due to low demand. 

The hotel, which opened in March 2022 in the Orlando-area to much fanfare and sold out ‘voyages,’ charges guests anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 for an immersive two-night experience in which they are thrust into a story taking place in a galaxy far far away. 

The booking portal for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser shows that there are reduced dates during October, November and December. 

Starting in the fall, the hotel is only open for bookings three or four times a week. Many hardcore Disney and Star Wars fans have long been critical of the resort’s exorbitant prices and the fact that it is windowless. 

Among the price gauging going on inside the hotel include, $13 beers and $23 cocktails as well as $99 for an official Star Wars themed photo, The New York Times reported at the time the park opened.  

The exterior of the windowless $20,000 per stay Disney Star Wars themed hotel in Orlando

The exterior of the windowless $20,000 per stay Disney Star Wars themed hotel in Orlando

The exterior of the windowless $20,000 per stay Disney Star Wars themed hotel in Orlando

In the 'Bridge', pictured, guests get the chance to experience what it would be like to operate the ship’s navigation and defence systems under the crew’s guidance

In the 'Bridge', pictured, guests get the chance to experience what it would be like to operate the ship’s navigation and defence systems under the crew’s guidance

In the ‘Bridge’, pictured, guests get the chance to experience what it would be like to operate the ship’s navigation and defence systems under the crew’s guidance 

The ship's 'Bridge'. 'We are trying to make it safe and fun to play Star Wars,' said a representative from Walt Disney Imagineering

The ship's 'Bridge'. 'We are trying to make it safe and fun to play Star Wars,' said a representative from Walt Disney Imagineering

The ship’s ‘Bridge’. ‘We are trying to make it safe and fun to play Star Wars,’ said a representative from Walt Disney Imagineering

The glitzy Crown of Corellia Dining Room, pictured, offers nightly musical entertainment from an intergalactic diva and band

The glitzy Crown of Corellia Dining Room, pictured, offers nightly musical entertainment from an intergalactic diva and band

The glitzy Crown of Corellia Dining Room, pictured, offers nightly musical entertainment from an intergalactic diva and band 

In the Sublight Lounge, pictured, visitors can play a round of sabbac, a card game in the 'Star Wars' universe

In the Sublight Lounge, pictured, visitors can play a round of sabbac, a card game in the 'Star Wars' universe

In the Sublight Lounge, pictured, visitors can play a round of sabbac, a card game in the ‘Star Wars’ universe

In January, it was reported by various Disney blogs that the company was offering discounted rates for the hotel for as low as $700 to Disney Vacation Club members who also stayed at another Disney hotel for two nights. 

The cut in dates for Galactic Starcruiser was first reported by Theme Park Tourist. The website said that travel agents were informed of the changes in an email from Disney.

‘When the voyage calendar is live, you may notice the schedule has been modified to provide two voyages per week, except for holiday weeks where we may have three voyages. We’ve been learning a lot during our first year of operation and have adjusted voyage dates to meet the needs of our guests,’ the email read. 

The two-night fee includes a trip to Disney’s Star Wars themed Galaxy’s Edge park. 

In May 2022, then Disney-CEO Bob Chapek told Forbes that customer interest in the hotel was ‘phenomenal’ and that reviews were ‘incredibly high.’ He referred to keeping the Starcruiser at ‘100 percent utilization through 2022.’

At the end of 2022, Disney was offering discounts of between 30 and 50 percent. That came after the company canceled several Starcruiser ‘voyages’ last summer. 

In December, Disney deleted a promotional video showing the hotel from it’s official YouTube channel and Twitter page due to the negative reviews from visitors. 

‘The ‘light saber training’ looks about as exciting as a roadside sobriety test,’ said one tourist, according to the New York Post.

Another said: ‘It’s way too expensive.’ 

Official reviews have varied, a CNBC review described it as being worth the price as it takes ‘immersion to a new meaning.’ While a San Francisco Chronicle reviewer complained of the rooms calling them like a ‘suburban junior high school built in the mid-1970s.’

At the time of writing, consumers can book practically any night on the Starcruiser through September 2023. 

Walt Disney recently opened its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience in Florida, which puts guests into a story set on the Halcyon space vessel. Above is one of the 100 Starcruiser cabins that guests can stay in

Walt Disney recently opened its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience in Florida, which puts guests into a story set on the Halcyon space vessel. Above is one of the 100 Starcruiser cabins that guests can stay in

Walt Disney recently opened its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience in Florida, which puts guests into a story set on the Halcyon space vessel. Above is one of the 100 Starcruiser cabins that guests can stay in 

A Starcruiser cabin with bunkbeds. The first-of-its-kind adventure is pricey, starting at $4,809 for two guests

A Starcruiser cabin with bunkbeds. The first-of-its-kind adventure is pricey, starting at $4,809 for two guests

A Starcruiser cabin with bunkbeds. The first-of-its-kind adventure is pricey, starting at $4,809 for two guests

A space droid greets guests in the atrium of the Starcruiser. Disney's designers hope visitors embrace the chance to play a role in the fictional world created by George Lucas

A space droid greets guests in the atrium of the Starcruiser. Disney's designers hope visitors embrace the chance to play a role in the fictional world created by George Lucas

A space droid greets guests in the atrium of the Starcruiser. Disney’s designers hope visitors embrace the chance to play a role in the fictional world created by George Lucas

Guests on the Halcyon can interact with Han Solo's hairy sidekick Chewbacca (pictured second from the left) and meet new characters

Guests on the Halcyon can interact with Han Solo's hairy sidekick Chewbacca (pictured second from the left) and meet new characters

Guests on the Halcyon can interact with Han Solo’s hairy sidekick Chewbacca (pictured second from the left) and meet new characters

Guests can shop for outfits in a galactic fashion in The Chandrila Collection boutique, pictured above

Guests can shop for outfits in a galactic fashion in The Chandrila Collection boutique, pictured above

Guests can shop for outfits in a galactic fashion in The Chandrila Collection boutique, pictured above 

Rey (left) battles Kylo Ren (right) during a performance that's part of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience

Rey (left) battles Kylo Ren (right) during a performance that's part of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience

Rey (left) battles Kylo Ren (right) during a performance that’s part of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience

Designers said that the Starcruiser experience takes elements from gaming, theatre, storytelling and hospitality. Matt Martin, senior creative executive in the Lucasfilm Story Group, called it ‘immersive theatre meets a cruise.’

Like a traditional cruise, all guests board at the same time. A captain and cruise director offer a welcome, but things go awry when Stormtroopers appear. Characters ask visitors for assistance, urging them to decide to align with the Resistance or the evil First Order.

‘You can choose to lie to a character, you can help them, you can gain their trust, you can double cross folks,’ said Ann Morrow Johnson, executive producer and creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering. ‘And you can really continue that relationship with them as you want your story to unfold.’

‘Star Wars’ costumes are encouraged. To dress for the occasion, guests can drop into The Chandrila Collection, a boutique on the vessel that sells outfits in a galactic fashion.

Above is the lunch bento box that's served on the Halycon - one of the galactic-inspired food and drink offerings on the vessel

Above is the lunch bento box that's served on the Halycon - one of the galactic-inspired food and drink offerings on the vessel

One of the desserts that guests can look forward to trying during the immersive experience

One of the desserts that guests can look forward to trying during the immersive experience

There will be ‘galactic-inspired’ food and drink offerings on the vessel. On the left is the lunch bento box that’s served on the Halycon, and on the right is one of the desserts that guests can look forward to trying during the immersive experience

Next, guests can wander through the ‘Engineering Room’ before heading to the ‘Bridge’, where they’ll get the chance to experience what it would be like to operate the ship’s navigation and defence systems under the crew’s guidance.

What’s more, crew members are on hand to offer training in how to handle a lightsaber.

When evening falls, the glitzy Crown of Corellia Dining Room offers nightly musical entertainment from an intergalactic diva and band.

In the Sublight Lounge cocktail bar – which is suitable for all ages – visitors can play a round of sabbac, a card game in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Or they can chill in the atrium without any pressure to participate in the story, the creators said.

A selection of drinks that are served in the Sublight Lounge cocktail lounge

A selection of drinks that are served in the Sublight Lounge cocktail lounge

A selection of drinks that are served in the Sublight Lounge cocktail lounge 

And once guests retire to their sleeping quarters, they can look out the ‘window into space’ that’s built into the wall of each cabin, offering views of ‘spectacular ships and galactic sights.’

‘We are trying to make it safe and fun to play Star Wars,’ said Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering.

‘If you want to lean in and wear some galactic finery and cosplay, it’s totally fine,’ Trowbridge said. ‘But also if you just want to sit back, wear your Star Wars T-shirt, drink a cocktail and watch the planets drift by, that’s also OK.’

The company did not disclose what it spent to build the experience, which was in development for more than six years. But executives said they adhered to Disney’s famous attention to detail and aimed to create a high-tech, luxury experience.

With the Starcruiser, ‘there is a significant investment, not only in this particular version we are launching, but also in the technology and underlying capabilities we have developed,’ Trowbridge said. ‘We are bullish about expanding the ways in which we can engage with our guests.’ 

Chapek had been fired after company executives seemingly lost faith in his leadership skills

Chapek had been fired after company executives seemingly lost faith in his leadership skills

Chapek had been fired after company executives seemingly lost faith in his leadership skills 

In January, Disney’s reinstated CEO Bob Iger began offering lower ticket prices and more perks as he tries to win back loyal fans who accused the company’s theme parks of ‘money grabbing’.

At Disneyland in Anaheim, parkgoers will now have more days throughout the year where one-day passes will cost $104 – a special ticket price which was usually limited to some school days in winter and spring. A regular ticket on other days will still set people back $179.

Parkgoers will also get complimentary ride photographs, and park hopping rules have been relaxed – allowing guests to explore from 11am as opposed to 1pm.

At Disney World in Orlando, parkgoers will get photos with attractions with the purchase of Genie+, and hotel guests will get free overnight parking – which can run up to $25 a day. Annual passholders who arrive after 2pm will also no longer be required to make reservations Monday to Friday. 

When Iger, who had served for 15 years as CEO and retired in February 2020, was reinstated in November, he promised to work on the company’s creativity and profitability, and return to its ‘core values.’

Fans have spent the last two years complaining about the issues at the parks, including two price hikes in 2022, alone.

‘Disney sends out surveys constantly, and they really do pay attention to those surveys,’ said Don Munsil, president of travel website MouseSavers.com. ‘All of these are things that fans have complained about,’ Munsil said.

In January, Disney's reinstated CEO Bob Iger began offering lower ticket prices and more perks as he tries to win back loyal fans who accused the company's theme parks of 'money grabbing'

In January, Disney's reinstated CEO Bob Iger began offering lower ticket prices and more perks as he tries to win back loyal fans who accused the company's theme parks of 'money grabbing'

In January, Disney’s reinstated CEO Bob Iger began offering lower ticket prices and more perks as he tries to win back loyal fans who accused the company’s theme parks of ‘money grabbing’ 

Chapek was criticized for not condemning the bill, and tried to quell the backlash with a backtracking statement to staff

Chapek was criticized for not condemning the bill, and tried to quell the backlash with a backtracking statement to staff

Chapek was criticized for not condemning the bill, and tried to quell the backlash with a backtracking statement to staff

Iger’s predecessor, Chapek, had been fired after company executives lost faith in his leadership. And anger against him become so commonplace among guests that so would often wear shirts that said ‘Chapek Killed The Magic’ and other slogans against him. Some Disney visitors even began referring to broken or downed rides as having been ‘Chapek’d.’

Disney also hiked its ticket prices twice since October 2021, with one-day tickets as high as $244 for a one-day park hopper pass.

In January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reignited the battle to take away Disney World’s self-governing power in the latest blow as part of an ongoing battle between the company and the state.

The overhaul began with the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – would also force the company to pay $700 million dollars in unsecured debt that might otherwise have been paid by taxpayers.

Since 1967, Disney has been responsible for the governance of an area known as Reedy Creek, which is partly within Orange and Osceola counties.

Critics say the arrangement gives the firm special legal and tax privileges.

Last week, a notice posted to the website of Osceola County said legislation would be introduced to create a state-controlled board for Reedy Creek.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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