At long last, Caitlin and Charlotte finally read “The Fallen Star” by Claudia Gray, Phase 1’s final adult novel in the High Republic series. We give our impressions of the book, then move into a deeper conversation about symbolism and the (many) deaths in this book. Finally, we read and react to book quotes and highlight some of our favorite moments. Spoilers abound! All this and more on this episode of Skytalkers. Click here to download the episode directly!
It’s here, it’s finally here! Charlotte and Caitlin celebrate the release of the first glimpse into the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series: the teaser trailer! The hype is so real and we have ascended to another planet (not only Tatooine!). Theories and speculation, themes, favorite parts, those musical cues, and so much more. Click here to download the episode directly!
About two weeks before the trip, Charlotte and I received the unexpected invite to partake in the media preview event for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser! Needless to say, we were over the moon. Now that we’re back on planet Earth, we wanted to share some of our thoughts and photos from our trip! You can also tune into our podcast episode here for the full breakdown. This post includes photos and details about the storyline, food, accommodations, activities, Batuu excursion, and overall experience. If you don’t want any spoilers, now is your time to opt out!
I think the first thing to know about the Galactic Starcruiser is this: you can’t think about it as a hotel. Conceptualizing it like a hotel where you come back from a day at the parks and it’s just “Star Wars-themed” is forgoing a lot of the concept of this experience. Once onboard, it really does feel like you’re on a cruise ship. The way luggage is delivered, your check-in, how dining is handled, etc. is all directly patterned after a cruise ship experience. On a cruise ship, there are large chunks of time you stay on the cruise ship for dining, entertainment, and activities (or in this case, immersive dinner theater). This is no different. Of course, there are some run-ins with the First Order and Resistance that stir things up a bit…
At the front entrance is where we were checked in, received our datapads (iPhone with portable charger), and took pictures in front of the sign. The transport up to the ship was fun, and I think the transition they created from our home planet to the Halcyon worked. The images of the concrete hallways at the check-in can seem very stark in photographs, but in my opinion, they serve to allow the guest to literally “cross a threshold” into this adventure. Star Wars music plays outside and it’s an audio cue that your Star Wars story is just beginning. The rest of the music on board is in-universe for the most part (except for a key moment or two). As I was experiencing it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the entrance overall, but reflecting on it, I better understand the concept. And going from the gray entrance/check-in area to the reveal of the atrium was breathtaking. Crew members introduced you to the ship and personally showed us to our rooms. Opening the door to see my own viewport…nothing else like it.
The cabins were immaculate, everything was spotless (to be fair, as some of the first guests actually using these cabins I would expect nothing less, but it was still impressive). Seeing them in person finally: they are small. For two people, the size of the room is functional. But I can imagine adding two other people and associated luggage the room would feel much smaller. The bed was very comfortable with plenty of pillows and extras in the closet. The bunks are actually more spacious than they appear in photographs. As a kid, I would be obsessed! I climbed up in the top bunk and just watched out the viewport for a few minutes and loved it. All the details in the room felt in-universe. The amenities, the light switches, cabin doors, etc. If I could change one thing about the room (aside from overall size) though, it would be to have better control over the lighting around the viewport. There’s a button on the viewport that opens it and closes it, while also turning off all the surrounding lights. However, there was not an option to leave the viewport open (i.e. seeing space) and turn the surrounding lights off. I really wanted to try and sleep with the viewport open and wake up with the stars or planets…but the lights around the viewport are too bright for sleeping. Also, it would be great if the button to open and close them was also available bedside! Every room comes equipped with a droid concierge: D3-O9. She’s activated using your magic band and is always ready to chat! I thought she might be a bit cheesy, but every time I came into my room, I dropped my bags and turned her on to see what news she was going to tell me! D3 also finds herself in some sticky situations with the First Order, and being able to converse and help her through them from my room was a very cool feature. Be sure to listen to her lullaby and bedtime story!
After checking in and changing into something more Halcyon-appropriate, we ventured over to the Crown of Corellia dining room. Here, we enjoyed a lunchtime buffet with a solid variety of food options. There were plenty of meatless options, and all the available menus made clear that any dietary restrictions could be conveyed to the crew for other options. The lunch buffets across the two days did have a few overlapping dishes, but they were some of my personal favorites so I was excited to see them again. We were always full and looking forward to the next meal. Some of our favorites were the Sunflower Butter & Jelly pods, the Spiral Baos, Bantha Beef Tenderloin, Iced Felucian Shrimp Cocktail, Mustafarian Spreads and Breads, and the Chandrilan Air Cake. Star Wars is predominantly a visual medium and the food had a beautiful presentation across all meals, but especially our dinner services. Alcohol is not included in the voyage, so expect that to be an additional charge. The drink prices felt in line with what you would see in other restaurants around the parks. The Sublight Lounge has some special drink and food offerings, so make sure to take advantage of those during your stay! All your food is included, so try a little bit of everything there! Perhaps the most exciting thing as big Star Wars fans is that in the dining room there is blue and green milk available on tap next to the other soft drinks.
After finishing lots of caf early the next morning, we were ready for our trip to Batuu! This was an element Charlotte and I were really interested in seeing: How would the transition from our cruise ship bubble back into a Disney park work? Would it break the immersion? Onboard the Halcyon, we waited in a long hallway for our transport to be ready. We were given waters, masks, and a special pin to wear in Batuu that would let other cast members there know we were a part of the Starcruiser experience. The transport itself is a truck (although you don’t actually see any of it from the outside) and takes about five minutes to get down to Batuu. The backstage where we entered was completely themed and it’s actually quite impressive how there are no “gaps” in the theming and you walk straight off the transport into a private entrance on Batuu. There is a shaded area where you can come and sit, talk to crew members, check any purchases straight to your cabin, and they have iced waters available. This was a really nice inclusion, especially if you’re taking part in building a lightsaber or droid, you can have those sent back to your room easily. Residents of Batuu (cast members) were well informed of the Halcyon and its story. They frequently asked us questions about our stay, and you can ask some about your specific storylines too. There were a few Batuu cast members that didn’t know exactly how to answer our questions, but they always double checked and were able to answer right away.
Bringing the datapad with you to Batuu is necessary if you’re following the storylines. Everything for the Starcruiser is hosted through the PlayDisney app, which also means that all of the activities that are normally available to guests on Batuu through the app are still there and playable (i.e. hacking, tuning, scanning crates, etc.). Characters from the Halcyon will message you on your datapad asking you to hack, send them files, go to certain areas of Batuu, etc. in order to further their storylines and build trust for a “side”. I had been following Lt. Croy’s messages and orders for the most part. He ended up telling me to talk to the bartender when I got to Oga’s (I had a reservation already made and attached to my account) and show him a symbol (which was a photo Croy sent me). I did and our bartender said he needed to “check with the boss” before coming back with a specialty QR coaster that I scanned with files that got sent back to Croy. Our bartender then told me he wouldn’t ask questions or tell anyone that I had been there. This element was really fun because, by this point, you’re more or less on a storyline track. Charlotte was firmly in the Resistance camp, but we both were messaging with the Saja about Jedi artifacts. We did some little tasks for him in Batuu, but we were more focused on our Resistance and First Order storylines.
Voyage aboard the Halcyon also gets you a reserved spot on Rise of the Resistance and Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. It was loaded into our magic bands and we could hop into the lightning lanes at any time. When we arrived to ride Rise of the Resistance, a crew member from the Halcyon was at the line entrance and led us through a private entrance straight to the room where Rey and BB-8 were. Everyone from the Halcyon used this private line for Rise of the Resistance, but it’s unclear if a Halcyon crew member was always stationed there. We had talked to this crew member before, so it was great synergy because we recognized him and he knew us from the ship. Overall, the trip to Batuu was seamless. There were no issues eating lunch at Docking Bay 7 and we had a great time! You don’t spend the whole day on Batuu, a little more than half the day (depending on when you leave the Halcyon). Charlotte and I were really excited to get back on board the Halcyon though. We also didn’t try to venture outside of Batuu. I think on a less busy week in the parks, you might be able to swing another ride in Hollywood Studios, but the parks were completely full during our stay. We also didn’t really want to break out of the “Star Wars world” between Batuu and the Halcyon.
Story & Roleplaying
Now the hard part to talk about: the overall story and role-playing. It’s hard to talk about because it’s hard to articulate how layered it can really get. Basically from the moment you arrive on the ship, you can begin immersing yourself in the story and putting yourself on a path (be it the Resistance, the First Order, etc.). Using the PlayDisney app, your magic band on board, and talking to the characters are all methods that you can use to insert yourself into a storyline. The highlighted activities on your datapad are definitely ones you want to partake in because they ensure that you’re understanding the big moving pieces of the story onboard. These include experiences like your lightsaber training and bridge training, along with a few others that will appear on your schedule as you make alliances across the ship. As many people have said, you can be as involved as you want to be. Talking to the characters more will definitely give you more bang for your buck and you’re more likely to become an integral part of the story and a catalyst in how certain events unfold. At the same time though, what you do, or who you align yourself with, can also be quite fluid. If you see a character walking around or going into a room, you can always follow them and track with the element of the story that they’re executing. No one is going to scan your magic band and say you can’t come along (there is one exception near the end of the voyage, but it’s not a negative, I promise). Even though I was clearly aligned with the First Order, I followed Charlotte on a number of Resistance-missions around the ship just to see what was going on. Of course, I made sure to report back to the First Order what I heard…but you certainly don’t have to do that. I think it’s important to remember that you also cannot physically be a part of everything going on board. There was so much I didn’t see happening for some characters simply because I was involved in a different storyline! But they’re all working together to guide everyone to the finale on night two.
The big picture story is quite simple: The First Order has boarded the ship looking for Resistance spies and information about the Resistance. The Resistance is working to smuggle goods (and some Resistance heroes like Chewbacca) off the Halcyon without being detected. Galactic popstar Gaya is threaded into this story along with the Force-sensitive Saja but they also have their own motivations and goals outside of the Resistance vs. the First Order. From the big to the little activities you do, you’re more than likely going to be introduced to all of the main characters onboard the ship. Who you spend the most time with is ultimately up to you. The cast and crew of the Halcyon are really what makes it shine. They were outstanding. It’s like dinner theater for 48 hours and they do it so incredibly well. They know their roles and they know the lore of Star Wars as much as any fan, if not more. It was a treat to watch them, and “work” alongside them. They’ve really ingrained themselves as “real” Star Wars characters to me – which I know might sound odd, but I fell in love with these characters and hope to see them explored in other stories! The grand finale of your voyage happens on night two, after dinner. All of the storylines converge into the atrium and it all truly and beautifully comes together. Rey and Kylo have an amazing duel on the second story stage with the entire ship watching. Hearing the crowd go wild for those two was so much fun! What really stands out to me though, is how involved our Halcyon characters were in Rey and Kylo’s story and how seamless it felt. They never felt like “Disney entertainers” watching the Rey and Kylo show: they felt as much as part of the Star Wars story as any character. They hype up the audience throughout the duel with catchphrases and shouts of encouragement that everyone joins in on. It’s honestly amazing. During the duel, one little girl in the front yelled out, “you can do it, Rey!” and everyone cheered along with her. It was that Star Wars feeling.
I can’t speak highly enough about the actors and crew that facilitate this story: it is so clear to see their passion for this experience.
Leaving the ship that final morning was depressing, let me tell you. Our luggage was taken off-board by the crew and we had our final breakfast in the dining room. We wandered around the atrium taking some last pictures before boarding the transport (elevator) back to the first floor and back to Earth. As we left, Charlotte and I were already talking about wanting to come back: all the things we would do differently, how fun it would be to be here with more of our friends, etc. It’s an incredible experience.
So the big question that everyone asks: Is it worth that price tag? There’s no question that the Galactic Starcruiser is an expensive experience, like almost everything at Disney these days. Is it ultimately worth it though? For Charlotte and I, we both decided that it was perhaps still a little out of our price range, or that the experience needed to be extended by a day or an additional half-day to better justify the price. But as huge Star Wars fans, there is really nothing else like it. And as much as we wish it was less expensive, we’re already committed to saving money to go again. It wowed us and delighted us, and we can’t wait to be back one day.
Thanks so much to Disney Parks for hosting us for the media voyage! We recently partnered with Kelly’s Magical Vacations which can help you book your next Disney vacation (maybe to the Halcyon!) and offer free quotes + help planning. It’s a great resource and don’t miss it next time you’re planning your trip!