Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Advanture

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10 Apr 2022 00:44 - 10 Apr 2022 00:44 #367464 by Silenus
For those of you who have not spoken to me on Discord and have no idea who I am, I was lucky enough to land a spot on the new Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser resort in Orlando, thanks to living in Florida, being an annual passholder at Disney World, and being willing/able to sit on hold for 6+ hours over two days. We had a blast, and loved the whole thing. What I want to do is offer a biased, but critical opinion of the whole experience so people can judge for themselves whether or not this (very) expensive trip is right for them. So here you go. My thoughts, spoiler-free, 24 hours after leaving the "ship" to return home. If you have any questions, let me know. Feel free to ask here, or in messages, or on Discord. Let me know if you are okay with spoilers. Because my default is to include as little spoilers as possible. This is going to be a very long and slightly rambling review (which should surprise exactly no one who has talked to me at all), but I'll throw in a TLDR summary at the end.

I know a lot of people are looking forward to hearing about this so I'm going to try and give an incredibly biased but spoiler free review of our experience at the Galactic Starcruiser Resort. So to begin, it is a resort that is presented and operated as if it is a genuine "cruise" - this one just happens to be on a space ship instead of a giant boat. There are a grand total of 100 rooms available in the hotel. This is actually critically important. They have to keep the size of the people staying in the hotel small just due to the nature of the experience. It just won't work with more people. There were times where it was difficult to get involved due to the sheer number of people trying to help. But we will get to that soon. There are some other things that need to be discussed first.

I'll open with the fact that the experience is expensive. Prohibitively expensive at this point for a lot of people. But if I'm being honest - a price point around $1500/person is about "right" for what you get out of the experience. So let's talk about that.

First you're getting to stay at a rather nice, themed resort for two days. This seems very expensive (I mean, that's $750/night/person - yikes!), but we're also talking about the fact that all of your food is included. Free breakfast, free lunch, free dinner. At Disney (and any restaurant really) it is easy to drop $20-30/meal on a single person. Especially with the breakfast and lunch options being all-you-can-eat buffet-style meals. Dinners really were tailored fine-dining experiences. Multi-course almost tapas style meals of some REALLY good and interesting food. If you've never done any of the Disney Star Wars stuff, they do a lot of really cool and interesting experimentation with mixing flavors, weird textures, and presentation of everyday foods that make them seem and feel completely alien. It is a really fun experience for people who enjoy food and interesting flavors.

So easily, you're getting $150-200 worth of food each day. There's also interesting snacks and stuff available throughout the day for free, you just kind of walk up and grab it and snack away. Which can be dangerous when for some people that means an endless supply of cookies. Rofl

Then we get to the service and the staff. We've stayed at several Disney resorts (everything from Art of Animation to Pop Century, to the Boardwalk, to Beach Club, to Animal Kingdom Resort), the staff here were absolutely on another level of customer service than anything else we've ever done or stayed at with Disney. For the most part they remained in character, they would respond to whatever outfits and things you wore, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever interacted with Disney people at a resort and felt they were being genuinely "friendly" and actively seeking to help and be kind and not simply doing their job and making sure we weren't dissatisfied. It's difficult to explain. They go out of their way to talk with you and be a part of the story and experience, and they're having FUN. Which makes it feel less like people working at a hotel and more like friends who just happened to be hosting us. So customer service was absolutely above and beyond, almost to a degree that make their other resorts look bad.

So what about the rest of it? From about 3pm each day until around 11pm, the "characters" who are part of the story are walking around the ship and you can approach and interact with them basically however you want about whatever you want. And seriously, they know their stuff and are GOOD at thinking on their feet. You can sit and talk with one of the Saja about the Force or legends of the Jedi for hours. (I talked with one for like 30 minutes because I was curious about their place in the canon, since they essentially were created for cruise logistics, but are referenced to a degree in stuff adjacent to Rogue One - they operated out of the Jedi Temple on Jedha - and I'm pretty sure Chirut is one of them.)

This is just the beginning though, because the whole thing is wrapped up in what can best be explained as something like a mix between a Murder Mystery party and an Escape Room. Which you can interact with 24 hours a day, and for which there are actual physical actors and characters that are involved with it for 8 hours a day each day of the "Cruise." As for the escape room bit. A lot of the stuff is contained to about half a dozen "rooms" you would find on a star ship/cruise. A lot of things happen in the Atrium (Lobby), there is a small bar with a digital Sabacc table off of the Atrium, and the Bridge is also off of the Atrium. Downstairs from the Atrium is a lobby with the "hyperlift" pods (elevators) that leads to the Dining Hall and the "Cargo Bay." Down one hall off of this lobby is a room for lightsaber training, an "environmental recreation room" (a room open to the outside world "simulating" the climate on Batuu with a bunch of plants in it and a rock garden in the middle), and the shuttle launch bay. Down another hall is the ship's brig, and the door to engineering.

Access is restricted to some of these places. For example: Engineering. The door is locked at the start of the trip. But there are multiple ways to find your way into it - someone in the story can give you access, you can slice/hack your way in, or you can even find a way to shimmy through the air ducts to get in. And that's just the ways I know about.

The entire stay and the entire value of the trip is in how you engage with the trip. *YOU* are the one who has to choose to engage with the story, you have to talk with people, you have to explore, you have to solve puzzles, you have to do missions and help people. YOU have to buy in.

It would be easy for this trip to be slightly boring and underwhelming if you're justing hanging out and having drinks and putzing around. However, if YOU go out of the way and decide to have fun, it will reward you back in spades.

So here's the good news: you don't have to LARP at all for this. The crew is amazing and the cast is amazing and they go out of their way to work with you. You can literally wear normal clothes and tell them your name is Tim and you're from Chicago. And without a beat they will shake your hand, look you in the eye, and tell you about how they've never heard of that planet before and ask you about the planet of Chicago. It opens the door for you to then talk about deep dish pizza, and the Black Hawks, and whatever else you want to associate with your home... and they will figure out how to draw it into the story. "Oh I love fried bread, have you ever had any with Tip Yip on it? That's my favorite."

But... and I will refer you back to my prior statements - if you buy in, if you full sell on the adventure, it will reward you back. If you want some spoilers of our own story/adventure let me know and I will be happy to share some cool ways things worked out. We made characters and a backstory going into it and did the whole thing from the perspective of an RPG.

I was a spoiled, wealthy veterinarian who traded in exotic animals (and might have smuggled medical supplies for the Resistance for a little extra money on the side) who had a mid-life-crisis space yacht that we worked out of - my spouse was the mechanic on my ship, and was a child of someone who managed to survive the Night of a Thousand Tears on Mandalore (Clone Wars TV series). She is the one who hunted down the exotic animals for us, and I would nurse them and care for them during transport until we sold them. So we were going on the cruise as a covert cover to travel to Batuu in order to meet with the Resistance groups there and see what supplies they need, as well as talk with Dok-Ondar about exotic animals and with Bina (the owner of the animal shop in the Market of Galaxy's Edge) - to help her stock her store.

All of our choices in the story stemmed from the little background we created, and it went amazingly. I highly recommend coming up with something like this to use as a framework. There's no need to go too deep, but a little bit of thought and discussion and planning goes a LONG way.

Here's what I can tell you without spoilers. The cruise (along with all of Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios) takes place around 34-35 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin - ie blowing up the first Death Star) - between the movies The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. So work within that time frame. The First Order feels like they have the upper hand because of the events of The Force Awakens, and they have interest in the Halcyon because they get word that a Resistance operative is on board the ship. So they barge their way in to investigate.

This basically leaves you with exactly what to expect: you can help the Resistance operate under the First Order's nose, you can help the First Order sniff out the Resistance and find evidence of Resistance activity on the ship, or you can skirt the lines and play off of them both while making as much profit as possible. There are other stories hidden in the trip, but again, you have to buy in and explore to find them. And you WILL be rewarded for doing so.

Now finally, let me talk about kids. We were lucky enough to have one of the grandparents come in so we could do the trip sans kids. However, there were people with tons of kids there. We saw the spectrum from college aged kids to tiny like 6 month olds that made you wonder why in the world they would bring a baby that small on a cruise like that. For a kid to be able to really enjoy the "game" part of the trip they need to be able to read, be really good at solving puzzles, and think on their feet. I would say about 7-8 (so 1st or 2nd grade) is really the age at which I think kids will really begin to enjoy the story and get a lot out of participating... about the 10-12+ age range is when I think kids are likely good to just be unleashed to run all over the ship doing whatever they want on their own.

For us, we are potentially looking to take the kids in a few years when the twins finish up First Grade. They will be closing in on 8, the Elder Spawn will be nearly 11. We will let the Elder Spawn run amok and make her own choices and do as much as she can by herself. We will each take a twin and help them through the choice and basically follow whatever they pick.

Next I want to talk about groups. 100% this will be an awesome experience with friends. While my spouse and I basically went together and coordinated everything, I think it would be an amazing thing to do with a group of friends - and everyone run around and do their own thing, and then come together at meals and at the end of the day and just share stories of what each of you did with one another. Plus you get to split the cost of the room, and the more you group together, the cheaper it gets per person. I think this is ideal. A group of 4-5 people can easily share a room, and each do their own thing during the day and I bet you'll have a bunch of awesome stories together... but I do have a complaint to make about the limitations of the game's mechanics...

And this is by far the biggest gripe about the experience. The technology. The part of the Disney Play app that is used for the experience needs work. There needs to be a way to link parties together that there currently isn't. There needs to be a way to communicate with other players in the Datapad App. Especially to link your stuff together when more than one of you is working on the same jobs at the same time. But holy crap does that get complicated knowing what I know about the stories and the choices now. So I definitely understand why it works the way it does, but it definitely needs to work better.

Lastly I want to talk about Galaxy's Edge. As someone who has done all the rides and stuff in Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood studio I would say that the stuff from the Halcyon's story makes the experience at Hollywood Studio exponentially better. It provides a missing context and continuity that the rides lack. Each ride and experience is its own little story normally... but it all gets tied together by the arching story of the cruise. I appreciated the stories told by the rides SO MUCH MORE having done this than I did beforehand. It seems silly to have like 8 hours to spend in Hollywood Studios on paper. But really... the missions you're doing while on the surface take a couple hours total... you get Lightning Lane to skip the lines on both rides with no restrictions on when you do it. You get a free meal from either Docking Bay 7 (delicious) or Ronto Roasters (also delicious), to include an alcoholic beverage for those who are interested (I recommend the Coruscant Cooler), and if you want more to drink, you can get into Olga's Cantina even if you don't have a reservation... which is essentially impossible. Also, recommend the Jet Juice... and the spouse recommends the Outer Rim. On our trip. We got both of the rides done, we were able to shop, we got all 6 of our missions done, we ate lunch, we got into Olga's and had a couple drinks, said hello to our favorite bartender on Batuu (Hi Jon!), and still got back to the ship with at least a hour before our first event back on the ship. And that includes Rise of the Resistance breaking down, us having issues with finding lunch that wouldn't trigger my spouse's allergies, going through a line again, and waiting for a table for us at Olga's.

So there you go. that's what I've got for you without spoilers. TLDR: If you can do the trip for under $1500/person for the Star Cruiser portion of the trip, it's 100% worth it, I wouldn't personally take a kid under the age of 7ish, 12ish is absolutely perfect if they're a fan, and most importantly - the more you engage with the game and buy into the experience the more you get out of it and the more value you get from your vacation. If you have friends willing to do it too and are willing to share a room, I think it would make for an amazing adventure for everyone involved, and give you tons of stories to tell one another for weeks and weeks after the trip.
Last edit: 10 Apr 2022 00:44 by Silenus.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Satelle, Ashria, River

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