Disney takes visitors to a galaxy far, far away

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Disney takes visitors to a galaxy far, far away

The Galactic Starcruiser will have a grand opening on Tuesday. March, April and most of June are sold out.

Disney began work on the Starcruiser project about six years ago, Trowbridge said, as part of its design for Galaxy’s Edge, a $1 billion “Star Wars” addition to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Galaxy’s Edge was largely about entertainment, while StarCruiser was conceived for intimacy. “We didn’t want it to be so big that people lost that sense of ‘they see me’,” Mr Trowbridge said.

At the time, the hospitality and retail industries were reinventing themselves for millennial consumers. Staying in a Hotel? Shopping in a store? How strange Increasingly, creating “immersive experiences” was the ticket to relevance, and the more the experience connects the real and virtual worlds, the better. Interactive theater was also becoming trendy in New York, with “Sleep No More” being a prime example. (Audience members create their own story by entering different rooms and choosing which characters to follow and when, over the course of several hours.)

But it was unfamiliar ground for Disney, which doesn’t like to leave anything to chance. In fact, the company has spent decades accomplishing the opposite.

Disney parks have always been about immersing visitors in a story, whether taking them to Cinderella’s castle or the pirate-filled Caribbean Sea. But the majority of Disney rides are passive experiences. You sit and something happens. Young visitors now expect more: they want to be part of the action and also influence the outcome.

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Galactic Starcruiser takes immersion to the extreme. If guests arrive the minute they are allowed in and stay until checkout, they get 45 hours inside a game. Disney has always called its employees cast members, but the people it hires at hotels go one step further — they all, even the bellhops, are residents of the “Star Wars” universe, which you can imagine. Stay in character when asking questions.

“Should you wish for a drink from your home world, please ask,” read the drinks menu inside the ship’s Sublight Lounge. In-room hair dryers are called “thermal blowers.” The place setting at dinner includes giant pairs of tweezers called “galactic grabbers.” Press a button in your cabin and a logistical droid, the D3-O9, appears on the video screen to interact, with the dialogue changing based on your reactions.

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