Inside the engineering room of the Halcyon starcruiser, things are getting dire. The First Order is closing in, and the newest members of the Resistance must work together to keep the ship from slipping under the regime’s control. Suddenly, amid the chaos, the towering form of Chewbacca the Wookiee emerges in the bowels of the ship. The Resistance hero is here to help, but for a moment everything else falls away — the First Order threat and the puzzles and switches before me — and I am 12 years old again.
Chewbacca and R2-D2 were the first Star Wars action figures I had as a child, so my affinity runs deep. But as the Wookiee tries to help me solve the complicated system of lights and switches needed to bring the ship back under the crew’s control, I find myself feeling a little star struck. Eventually we work together for a Resistance victory and share a high-five and a hug. And as he retreats I spontaneously blurt out, “I love you.” I’m sure he knows.
The interaction was one of many memorable moments from my time at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an innovative immersive experience at Walt Disney World Resort that puts you on a journey aboard an elite voyage to the planet Batuu and beyond. From boarding the ship to the grand finale in the Atrium, here are 10 things we loved about our two-day excursion on the Halcyon.
1. Aliens walk among us.
It wouldn’t be the galaxy far, far away without aliens, and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser commits to that authenticity, whether it’s the performers bringing key characters to life like Gaya the Twi’lek crooner and her Rodian bandmate Ouannii, or the passengers. On our voyage, one visitor committed to a full face of blue make-up and a hat reminiscent of Cad Bane while another had Zabrak-like horns protruding from her head. A human crew member, tasked with helping to get me settled in a cabin, remarked that the floors had just been redone as some Hutts paid a visit and left a discernible slime trail.
2. There are many new faces to interact with and a few recognizable ones.
Besides wanting to hug Chewbacca the Wookiee, you may find yourself helping Rey with a special mission, staring up at the frightening mask of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, and sending intel to C-3PO and R2-D2. But there are also new friends aboard, including the delightfully awkward Sammie, a Corellian mechanic who yearns to do good for the galaxy, and SK-62O, the astromech droid and his close companion of Cruise Director Lenka Mok. From the moment muster — Captain Riyola Keevan’s welcoming ceremony — comes to a close, you’re invited to play whatever role you choose, letting your curiosity guide you to interact with the crew and a few new passengers — Lt. Harman Croy and his First Order stormtroopers.
3. The ship’s design is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in person.
From the sprawling atrium to the view of the stars from the bridge, the Halcyon has captured the feel of stepping onto a pristine Star Wars ship, like Dryden Vos’ yacht or the Millennium Falcon before Han Solo took the helm. Although there’s plenty to do aboard, make time to sit in your cabin and watch the stars from your personal viewport and appreciate the attention to detail, including the Aurebesh among the many languages translated on the emergency instructions on the cabin door.
4. You can explore the climate simulator, cool your heels in the brig, and learn to wield a lightsaber.
There are smaller corners of the ship that provide a unique bit of atmosphere all their own. The climate simulator provides the chance to get some fresh air and acclimate to Batuu’s bright suns. If you talk to the right people, or cross the wrong ones, you’ll gain access to the brig. And in the lightsaber training room you can tap into the Force for one of the highlights of the various trainings — learning how to use the weapon of the Jedi.
5. You choose your own destiny.
Using the handy datapad, I kept track of the day’s itinerary and communications from key crew members who I had spoken to earlier in my stay. Although some others staying on my voyage aligned with the First Order, I worked with the Resistance spies to get intel on hyperspace tracking and found a friend in the underworld in Raithe Kole, Gaya’s manager.
6. I finally understand how to play Sabacc.
Thanks to crew member Keeli, fellow passenger Ashley Eckstein and I now know how to play Sabacc. In the Sublight Lounge, several other voyagers enjoyed rounds of Sabacc at the holotable in the lounge’s center or cocktails from around the galaxy. The lounge itself is a highlight for anyone who’s ever wondered what it’s like to step inside a high-end cantina.
7. The food is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
From a fish dish with moving parts and a blue shrimp appetizer to waffles with the Halcyon logo and blue bantha butter, the menu has been carefully tailored to complete the immersive experience for all five senses.
8. There’s so much going on, you’ll wish you had Kamino cloning technology.
As important as it is to talk to key characters, other passengers also help enrich the experience. The first and last events of the immersive story happen in the main hall in front of everyone aboard, but there are countless interactions transpiring throughout the ship. While I was indisposed, Rey and Chewbacca cornered other members of my party in a hallway with a request to help transport some coaxium. In the lightsaber training room, another group of 15 passengers opened a holocron to reveal a special message unbeknownst to the other nearly 200 people on board. These smaller moments make every experience unique and keep you guessing about who might be just around the corner.
9. You can watch your favorite Star Wars movie from your bed. And you absolutely should.
Living the story is a large part of the fun, but when it was time to relax on the first night I could think of no better entertainment to wind down than my favorite Star Wars film. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve watched Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, but I will always remember watching it that night.
10. The finale!
Whatever path you choose, your adventure hurtles toward one epic conclusion — a clash between good and evil inside the main atrium. Rey and Kylo Ren go head to head in a battle that calls upon the Force itself for a thrilling piece of immersive theater coming at you from all corners of the room and culminating in a fireworks celebration worthy of Coruscant.
But if you’re anything like me, even as the familiar sounds of John Williams’ score blast through the speakers to herald the end of your story, you won’t want to leave.
Book your voyage on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser now.
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family At War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.
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