Imagine this: you’ve just lifted off your home planet and in the distance, you see it, the Halcyon, a glamourous starcruiser operated by Chandrila Star Line. Before you know it your pod links up with the ship and the blast doors open with that distinctive Star Wars door-opening sound; suddenly you realize, you’re in space.
Fortunately for me, I don’t have to imagine, because I was there. This week Disney invited me to a special media preview of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World, and let me tell you, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, it truly raises the bar on what an immersive themed experience can be. The closest analogy would be to say it’s like “Westworld,” but in space. But even that doesn’t fully describe it. Videos and photos don’t do it justice.
Spoilers are not ahead.
From the moment I stepped aboard, I was enveloped in the story, with the ship’s mechanic, Sammy, immediately approaching me and chatting me up, asking for my name and my home planet. Naturally, when I said Earth he had no idea what or where that was. I just told him it was in a “galaxy far, far away.”
However, what was truly impressive was that later in the experience Sammy remembered me by name and trusted me to perform ‘secret missions.’
During our whirlwind “greatest hits” tour, we oscillated between Resistance and First Order missions, at one moment helping the First Order and then five minutes later helping Sammy and the Resistance. Naturally, once the ship takes flight on March 1st, guests will be made to pick a side and declare their allegiance.
I can’t commend the actors enough, the acting was incredible, it was truly a Broadway-level performance, but even better because they interact and react to you. Similarly, the other members of the ship’s crew (the regular Cast Members) were equally as devoted to the story and the world, having given themselves backstories and engaging with passengers in kind.
The onboard activities are incredibly fun, my personal favorite was lightsaber training. What made it so special to me, besides the fun of wielding a real lightsaber that’s integrated with haptics to make it feel like your really hitting blaster bolts, was the special care and emotional touch our trainer gave to me specifically. As you may know, I’m legally blind, and therefore couldn’t see the lasers I was supposed to be blocking for the first few rounds. The trainer immediately noticed this and told me that the Force would guide me, I wouldn’t need my eyes.
Low and behold, the Force came through (while I won’t disclose how it initially manifests itself for the sake of spoilers, I will say that everyone gets to experience it). I was able to block blasters coming from the training remote without seeing the blade. It really made my experience all the more meaningful when the trainer stopped me on my way out and commended me.
Bridge training was also a blast, I enjoyed mashing the controls and flipping the switches to keep the ship operational (it was harder than it looked at first glance), and especially enjoyed defending the ship (which is incredibly engaging in a way that doesn’t come across fully until your doing it yourself).
The food and beverage available onboard the Halcyon is also a major highpoint, I was able to sample a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the Sublight Lounge and must say, even as someone who doesn’t drink alcohol except for reviews on very special occasions (never for pleasure), they were top-notch. The non-alcoholic drinks, which are more my speed, were also expectations.
The food (and I’m a picky eater, mind you) is some of the best at Walt Disney World (or, more aptly, on starcruisers departing from Walt Disney World) property. We were offered a selection of dinner items from night two and they were each very well prepared. I particularly liked the Bantha and the desert course.
The last thing we did prior to disembarking back to our home planet was unexpected. While I don’t want to give anything away, let me just say that the conclusion to your journey is epic and is something you’ll remember for a long time to come.