The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is more than a hotel…if you want it to be. The multi-day immersive experience allows guests to step into their own Star Wars story by engaging with characters, completing tasks, and choosing their own path. The choices that you make while engaging with characters literally put you on a “unique” storyline, and a recent talk by two Imagineers showcases the various threads that guests can embark on.
Anisha Deshmane (Asst. Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering) and Sara Thacher (Sr. R&D Imagineer, Walt Disney Imagineering) recently spoke at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) where they provided insight into how the “game” storyline of the Galactic Starcruiser experience plays out. Here’s the description of their talk:
Join two Walt Disney Imagineers as we upend narrative design strategies to create compelling, impactful conclusions to each guest’s individual – and multiplayer – stories developed for the multi-day immersive adventure, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. On this living, ‘playable’ starcruiser, passengers are invited to take part in a multi-day connected RPG where their personal story unfolds through physical exploration, responsive environments, interactions with live performers, and purpose-built digital interfaces. Throughout this adventure, participants can make choices that change their path while taking part in a range of Star Wars stories. This talk will dive into how we turned a branching narrative upside-down to ensure guests have individual and group agency while satisfying the constraints of fixed endings, and examine how those principles manifested in core design choices to inform a passenger’s personal adventure across real and virtual platforms to tell a cohesive, connected Star Wars story.
– Understand advantages of constrained endings determining mechanics of player agency.
– Crafting consistent NPCs that live on multiple platforms, including live performers and digital chat interfaces.
– Designing mechanics that embrace both “play for fun” and moments of agency.
– Designing multiplayer experiences that are rewarding for individuals for their contribution to the cumulative narrative
In this first slide, we have a high-level overview of the storyline and the significant moments that take place throughout the cruise. Please keep in mind that the rest of this article will contain SPOILERS both in written context and visually.
We can see that the cruise is broken up into three significant portions across two days. The first significant portion takes place in the afternoon of day one (DAY ONE RECAP). The idea of day one is twofold. First, it’s an opportunity for Disney to introduce the main characters that guests will interact with over about a 20-hour period. Second, the evening period offers guests a chance to interact with characters to set up what they’ll be doing on day two.
On day two, there are two significant portions. First, your planet excursion to Batuu allows you time to complete missions for the characters that you established a connection with on day one. You also have time to complete some missions in the early afternoon on the ship, should you choose.
In the late afternoon on day two (DAY TWO RECAP), the finale starts to kick off with multiple significant character moments taking place throughout the ship. Eventually, the endgame begins and involves all guests in a finale moment in the atrium of the ship on night two.
Of course, the above is quite linear and represents the major moments of the cruise, but there are multiple “roles” that a passenger can play throughout the cruise that will activate story moments that only a specific role will experience. Here’s a look at the various passenger journeys that are available. It’s very likely that if you are an involved “player”, you’ll experience multiple journeys during your two-night adventure. For example, we’ve been on two cruises and have experienced a resistance/force storyline on the first cruise, and decided to switch it up on our second cruise to experience a smuggler/force/heist storyline.
Breaking down the experience more, we can see just how many storylines might exist within a cruise. There are some areas where all guests experience the same “program”, but there are also enough small story moments unique to each storyline that it’s impossible to “do it all” on a single voyage. Ultimately, all guests eventually arrive at the same finale moment, but how you get there and what you experience along the way can either be unique to you and you alone or unique to a group of guests traveling along the same path.
In the slide below, you can see the amazing choreography of storytelling that takes place throughout the entire ship. For example, all guests will experience Resistance/Force moments in the Lightsaber Training Pod, but you might experience a rom-com moment in the atrium one moment and a First Order moment in the atrium a few minutes later. However, the brilliance of the experience is how guests who are partial to the Resistance will likely be pulled away to another location of the ship as the First Order fills in to utilize the space behind them. This dance of characters and guests takes place so seamlessly that you have to specifically look for the moments to recognize them.
We’ll have a lot more Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser content for you in the coming weeks, but for now, this serves as a wonderful look behind the curtain at the gameplay of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel
While we’ll recap the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience below, you can find in-depth, day-by-day reports in the following articles!
Guests will arrive at the hotel like any other hotel, but it’s billed as something unlike anything else built by Disney. The adventure begins when you arrive at the Galactic Starcruiser Terminal at Walt Disney World and check-in for your two-night experience. Valet is included in the price of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Once you’ve checked into the hotel, you’ll board a launch pod where you’ll blast off into space and rendezvous with the Halcyon, the ship you’ll spend the next 2-nights aboard. Through windows above, you’ll see yourself leave the real world behind as you jump to hyperspace and draw closer and closer to the Halcyon.
Here’s concept art of the experience compared to a photo of the actual guest experience in the launch pod.
During your journey, you will sleep aboard a ship known throughout the galaxy for its glamour and style—crewed by the incomparable interplanetary travel group, Chandrila Star Line.
Chandrila Star Line is renowned throughout the galaxy for its fleet of comfortable and stylish starcruisers, top-tier service, delicious cuisine and exotic destinations—from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim and beyond. Chandrila Star Line’s legendary Purgill-class starcruisers were some of the first commercial vessels to offer hyperdrive travel, and their spirit of adventure continues to this day.
Rest assured that in these times of galactic conflict, Chandrila Star Line operates with the utmost care, and encounters with either the First Order or the Resistance are rare. While itineraries do occasionally experience some disruptions due to the unrest in certain parts of the galaxy, Chandrila Star Line starcruisers are well equipped with the latest shield and turbolaser technology to defend themselves in the unlikely event of dire circumstances—which are never an issue. Well, almost never.
The Halcyon starcruiser is the jewel of the Chandrila Star Line. Onboard the 100-cabin Corellian MPO-1400 model starcruiser, you’ll voyage to the far reaches of the galaxy in legendary comfort and style. Recently refurbished and reoutfitted, the starcruiser combines modern conveniences with the romance of the age of exploration.
When the Launch Pod docks with the Halcyon and the airlock opens, you will step into the ship’s main deck Atrium to begin your journey through a galaxy far, far away. Again, here’s a comparison of the concept art versus the actual product.
A visit aboard the Halcyon becomes a multi-day story that interweaves with members of the crew, other passengers, familiar Star Wars characters, and an excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Visiting the starcruiser’s Bridge to learn about ship systems and how to operate them, including navigation and defense – skills that may come in handy during a journey through this adventure-filled galaxy.
Other areas within the ship include the Engineering Room, where guests can sneak into a crew-only area of the ship and discover the inner workings.
Guests can also complete lightsaber training! Wielding a lightsaber while facing off against a training remote, where you may discover your own connection with the Force.
Of course, it’s not going to all be action. There will be time to head to The Sublight Lounge – an inviting retreat for passengers of all ages.
Guests will also be able to experience luxurious meals – included with your stay in the main restaurant. At night, guests might even be treated to an otherworldly dinner show.
Every window in the Halcyon – including those in each cabin – has a view of the galaxy beyond, with ever-changing vistas as the ship progresses from place to place.
The starcruiser features 100 well-appointed cabins and suites, each one radiating an atmosphere of elegance, style, comfort, and exclusivity. Your Star Wars story continues even in your cabin or suite. You’ll be amazed by the attention to detail!
Each Standard Cabin is fitted with furnishings and fixtures designed to ensure comfort while traveling throughout the galaxy—including a pullout table and a TV with entertainment from your home planet—and a window with a view out into space.