The Galactic Starcruiser Review

January 02, 2023

Imagineering got permission to try something more ambitious than anything they have tried before. Armed with the rich history of Star Wars and a budget that only Disney provides, they created an experience that takes everything people love about the parks and dialed it up to eleven. If you love Star Wars, games, and Disney rides, you will not regret two days on the Halcyon. If you are less familiar with Star Wars, you will find things to enjoy, but Galactic Starcruiser’s controversially high price point means this will not be worth it for you.

Spoiler Free Section

If you are thinking about taking the trip, I recommend avoiding storyline spoilers to fully enjoy the experience. I am dividing this review into a spoiler free section, and then will have a section with storyline spoilers to provide more detail for folks that want to know more but do not expect to take the trip. Finally I will then have a spoiler free conclusion.

Embarking on the Journey

Starcruiser starts with a long queue as folks are checked in, luggage is tagged to be brought to your room, and you are scanned through security. We arrived about thirty minutes after it opened and it took us almost an hour to reach our room. Starcruiser staff orient you and get you situated with your MagicBand. I would recommend not arriving too late after opening as it was nice to have free time to get situated and shop before the story got started.

Story and Immersion

Starcruiser is like walking through Broadway. There are two types of cast: characters and crew. The characters have full make-up and costumes, a background, and play an important role in building and advancing the story. Support crew also are part of the story. They know little about cars, but a lot about land speeders. The holonet and holoscans are sensible, but not the Internet or cameras. The bartender or wait staff will happily engage you about your home planet and other details. They make it as easy as they can to stay in the universe.

I came with a background story for myself and enjoyed sharing that story with others. I wish I spent a little more time refining and memorizing it for engaging with the cast members. They are knowledgable about Star Wars history and will be confused if you allude or suggest things that do not fit into the canon. You do not have to be an expert, but Wookiepedia is your friend.

At the beginning of the voyage it was challenging to figure out how to become engaged in the story points. The ability to engage was bottlenecked in queues to talk to the characters after they were introduced. Lines formed at the interactive ship terminals. It was not always clear whether or where I needed to go next. The data pad phone app helps mitigate some of this, but a little more direction and queue management at the start could have helped things go more smoothly, even if they would have broken immersion.

There was a wide range of engagement from passengers. Some had full cosplay with elaborate outfits, others opted for the costumes that were on sale at the shop, and a surprising number of folks wore civilian clothing. I do not think you need to dress up to enjoy Starcruiser, but I think it is worth assembling an ensemble that is in-universe to have fun with it.

Once you become engaged in the story, it moves quickly. You learn about plot points from characters in different rooms. There are activities related to the plot that keep you busy. Before you know it, it is time for dinner.

The Food and Drinks

Disney benefits from its deep well of expertise in food and beverage on Starcruiser. The main dining room serves a buffet for breakfast and lunch with options that will satisfy a variety of palettes. Breakfast and lunch are is similar to what they might offer at restaurants at the park with Star Wars theming. Dinner both nights is seated with high quality food that is adventurous but not outrageous.

It is important to note that if you have allergies you should talk to the chef at lunch time. This will give the kitchen plenty of time to improvise and accommodate for things that might be challenging based on your needs and the base fare.

The Sublight Lounge is everything that Oga’s Cantina should have been. While at Starcruiser’s price point I think beverages should have been included in the voyage, the variety and deliciousness of the cocktails kept us coming back to try them. We were too full from the provided meals and snacks to bother sampling the free snack options at the lounge, but they sure smelled good. The atmosphere in the lounge was perfect. Cushioned booths kept ambient noise at bay, while there was almost always enough seating for sitting down, except at the single holo-sabaac table.


In Star Wars lore Han Solo wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of sabaac. Disney has taken this lore and developed a game that can appeal to anyone that enjoys poker or blackjack. Physical copies of the game are available in the Chandrila Collection gift shop and used in the sabaac tournaments.1

A holo-sabaac table in the Sublight Lounge was one of the stars of our trip. It is a holo table because your cards appear in a neat hologram effect in front of you. You can only see your cards; your competitor’s cards are magically hidden from your view. The table made it easy to learn the game and play against fellow passengers. We found ourselves seeking it out during the small amount of downtime between the story segments.

The Hotel Room

Our room on the Galactic Starcruiser was not the fanciest hotel room I have stayed in, but it was the most interesting. A queen sized bed along with two twin size bunk beds provide comfortable sleeping accomodations for up to four adults. There was enough space for a hide-away table and two ottoman sized stools. Plus a make-up mirror/table, wardrobe closet, bathroom, bathroom, and rain shower. The small size of the room is cleverly mitigated by the use of pocket doors. I do not think a larger room is necessary, you do not spend much time in the room outside of sleeping.

The first showpiece of the room is the virtual spaceport that uses the same technology used on Smugglers run to display a live view of space. This view synchronizes with the storyline on the ship to reflect your current location and other action that might be happening.

The second showpiece is the DS-09 virtual droid assistant on the communications panel. You click a button and are connected to a CGI rendered droid assistant with a realistic voice. A microphone allows you to interact with it, as DS-09 is backed by the same artificial intelligence technology that Alexa or Siri uses. Imagineering’s implementation of this was good, with DS-09 able to respond to most of my prompts and uncannily acknowledging the content of those prompts. I do not know how much of this is a function of us sticking to typical responses, and how much is the growth of the training data based on previous passenger interactions. However I found it to work better than Siri, and as good if not better than Alexa. If Disney is not outsourcing their voice technology here, I can see them developing this into interesting things for other properties.

The Crew

The only thing I can say about the crew of the Halcyon is they are top notch. From the time we were greeted and oriented to arranging our departure, the service I received was more hands-on than at most Disney properties. Disney cast members are famously caring to, but the Galactic Starcruiser experience provides an additional high-touch level of personal service.

Shopping and Merchandise

A variety of items are available for purchase at The Chandrila Collection. The exclusive Star Wars themed costumes and jewelry are the most interesting, and can be used for Halloween or other costume occasions. I was underwhelmed by the legacy lightsaber offered, it was much lighter feeling than the one I built at Savi’s workshop last year. There are pins, patches, and t-shirts among other standard fare to commemorate the experience with.

Sabaac and sabaac Chips appeared high quality and were the most exciting items to me. The chips are heavy and the quantity is smaller than is practical for play. Many passengers suggested getting two sets. On the ship we used small red discs to represent credits in the sabaac tournament. I think making chips that are half the thickness, about three quarters of the diameter, and double the quantity could be a big improvement here. A tiny note on the box warns that the chips are designed for display, not play. I do not think that will stop many folks (myself included) from using them, but think the intention might be more to split them with your cabin mates as mementos or to use as challenge coin type souvenirs.

Other standard items with the Galactic Starcruiser branding were available at a pop-up shop at the entrance as we left. Since our Lyft arrived so quickly we did not have an opportunity to peruse it, but it appeared to be more standard gift shop fare. Given the characters and logos in the Chandrila Collection items are not as widely known, I would not be surprised if more folks purchase items from the end shop than in the one inside the Halcyon.

The Excursion to Batuu (Galaxy’s Edge)

The second day features a chance to spend time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It is billed as an excursion to Batuu inside the story. Many passengers chose to rise early at 7 a.m. to take the first 8 a.m. transport, and seemed to stay until the last transport back at 4 p.m. If you have not been to Disney Hollywood Studios before, it is a good chance to explore it. You can even leave Galaxy’s Edge and ride the other rides.

The excursion was a chance to see the park in a different light. Instead of lurching from ride to ride, we had missions to complete in the park. These used the data pad on the mobile phone along with the bluetooth enabled access points and QR codes located throughout Batuu. Because you are on a Galactic Starcruiser excursion there is an opportunity for cast interactions that you do not always experience during a regular park visit. The Batuu crew loves playing along.

Since we had been to the park before we chose to depart to the Halcyon early. Shuttles run every fifteen minutes. Uncovered beverages are not allowed: my morning coffee was fine to bring onto the transport, but my adult beverage from lunch on Batuu had to be finished before departure. If you enjoy the drinks at Oga’s Cantina but want to walk around the park, my wife learned they will make you a to-go beverage.

Starcruiser includes a meal credit to use on Batuu. Based on other reviews we thought we might skip this or just use it on a dessert so we could eat on the Halcyon. However Ronto Wraps at Ronto Roasters continue to be some of the best food at Disney and we could not resist. Having had the lunch buffet on the Halcyon the day before, we feel like we made the right choice.

Galactic Starcruiser includes lighting lane access to the Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance rides. Everything else on the excursion requires waiting in the regular standby lines. If you want a real day at the Hollywood Studios park, it is a better value to extend your trip for an extra day to enjoy that unless you are there for an off-peak day. Returning a couple hours early also gives you downtime which you might appreciate before the main story arc continues on the Halcyon around 4 p.m.


The day after the voyage ends they serve a buffet breakfast. You are required to leave by 10 a.m. so our 12:45 flight was timed perfectly, if not a little late. The crew will bring the luggage from your hotel room to the entrance if you tag it and leave it out before 8 a.m. As we entered the Atrium with our luggage we were greeted by a crew member. They finished our checkout and arranged for us to get a Lyft to our airport, included in the trip.

What Could be Improved

One thing we wish is that there was an option for an adults only voyage. The trip we were on was fully packed and had lots of young people that were not bashful about cutting you off from talking to a character you were waiting to engage, or slamming into you for a better view. This sort of thing is to be expected when dealing with less mature travelers, but does detract from the experience.

I think kids have to be of a certain age to fully appreciate Starcruiser. This was punctuated by a mother in front of us with two young travelers who exclaimed: “oh my god I think you all are too young for this” when the story started on the first day. I would not take someone younger than nine unless I had to.

A couple more sabaac tables in the Sublight Lounge or Atrium would have been great as well. Demand was high for the one table, and it sometimes went down. It is large so I understand why it might not be practical to have more than one, but maybe they could create a smaller version without the holo effect.

While I appreciate the surprise and mystery of the food, I wish I spoiled that for myself beforehand. Due to my wife’s food sensitivity we got two portions of everything and it was easy to eat a lot at the start. Knowing the portion sizes and types of food would have helped me pace myself better.

Spoiler Section

Much of the experience of Galactic Starcruiser is influenced by its story. The story is a novel one, taking place after The Last Jedi. Familiar characters appear, and it helps to understand Star Wars lore, but it also stands on its own. Like any movie or show, spoiling the story will kill the suspense and make the experience of Galactic Starcruiser less exciting. I do not recommend spoiling it if you plan on booking this experience. Read ahead if you dare.

Characters and Acting

Galactic Starcruiser features many novel characters to its story and a few familiar faces that make an appearance. The acting of the entire cast was superb. A lot of folks were turned to the dark side by Lt. Croy’s pitch perfect performance. Sandro and Gaya are talented singers and performers in their own rights. Disney clearly made effort to find actors that resembled those in the movie for characters like Rey that make an appearance.

The choreography for the finale in the atrium was better than I expected. The physicality of Rey battling Kylo Ren looked like a workout, but the stunts were executed perfectly. There is Disney magic happening during the performance. I do not know how the lightsaber and force effects worked, but they were fun to see with elements of illusion.

Private Story Points

Besides the main story points experienced by everyone in the atrium there were story points specific to your chosen path and experience. These are your chances to interact with the characters and participate in plot lines. You might find yourself hiding Chewbacca as he sneaks across the ship. The actors did a great job with these and they were much of the fun of the experience. However they were sometimes hard to find or learn about, it is helpful to befriend other passengers on your same path to make sure you do not miss these.

The other challenge with private story points was dealing with folks that were not supposed to be in them. Near the end the private story points happened in areas that required you to “tap in” to be authorized for them. Earlier in the experience the cast members or passengers would have to nudge wandering passerby to continue on as the thing happening was “not for them”. A little more direction for passengers at the start of the adventure or some sort of less subtle indicator for folks as to whether a private story point is part of their path could have made these less awkward.

I also have taken to searching YouTube and have learned all sorts of stuff happened that I missed. Nothing critical, but lots of voyages featured opportunities for passengers to write a song with Sandro. There simply was too much going on to be able to experience it all.

The Story

The story on Galactic Starcruiser is not integral to the Star Wars universe, it stands on its own. It takes place after The Last Jedi, so I recommend watching that movie before your experience. The plot is somewhat predictable as it exists in service to the experience of being on the ship and the activities you are given. Disney does a great job of weaving the elements of the experience together with the story, and it is exciting because it is interactive and there are surprise cameos. It would not be exciting as a movie.

Lightsaber Training

The Saja lead one of the fun and most physical events of the trip when you go to lightsaber training. You learn the basic moves for lightsaber movement and then are given a few chances to go head to head deflecting blaster bolts with a training droid. The story with this was fun, but I did feel silly when I failed to figure out the cue for the blaster bolt direction on the final round without the regular indicators. I do not recommend going first if you can avoid it. Fortunately they let me have a second go at it.

The shields that block blaster bolts look neat but were a little gimmicky. It was nice to have something to do in the second and third rows when they were added to the experience, but the idea of a shield to block blaster bolts does not feel natural to Star Wars.

Bridge Training

Bridge training was a lot of fun. During this activity you take control of the Halcyon. It is like Smugger’s Run but four stations exist: weapons, shields, loaders, and systems. Weapons and loading happen on the large space screen while the loading and systems happen on their individual consoles. You rotate through all the stations.

Systems was the most challenging of these and involved having to solve puzzles quickly by matching knobs and buttons with layouts on the screen. Separating aiming and firing for the weapons station was a little annoying, but they did this to accommodate a larger number of passengers. Shields was the second most challenging station but only because transitioning from the training mode to full simulation it was not made clear you could leave your section of the ship with your shield you control.

Spoiler Free Conclusion

Galactic Starcruiser is a one of a kind experience that cannot exist anywhere else. If you are a Star Wars fan and can comfortably afford it, this is fun and worth doing. If it’s a stretch for your budget, it’s not a must-do experience. You can get a taste of the showmanship and acting by building a lightsaber at Savi’s workshop at Galaxy’s Edge. If you do not like Star Wars but are going with someone that does, you will find plenty to enjoy on the Halcyon; my wife sure did.

Errata: It turns out the snacks at the Sublight Lounge were free.

  1. I was told by another passenger that the winner of the tournament gets a special coin, but missed the finals. 

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.