Disney's Huge Star Wars Bet May Be in Big Trouble – TheStreet

When Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report bought LucasFilm in 2012 for $4 billion, it had huge plans for Star Wars. At the time, the company likely thought that George Lucas' science-fiction franchise would be a box office fixture with a new film being released every year.
That, of course, was the original plan, but the relative failure of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" and the mixed reception the most-recent trilogy in the so-called "Skywalker" saga recieved has actually left Star Wars without a movie on the company's release schedule. Instead, the space soap opera has become a fixture of the company's Disney+ streaming network.
"The Mandalorian" kicked off a whole new series of Star Wars content that's less focused on Jedi and Sith, that has opened up the franchise to new fans. That wasn't Disney's plan (Disney+ might have been little more than a memo or a vague idea in 2012) but it has revitalized the franchise.
What Disney did get right was that Star Wars would become a key property at its theme parks. "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" at Disney World's Hollywood Studios and at California's Disneyland has been a huge hit driving customers to both of those theme parks.
In fact, "Rise of the Resistance," the signature ride at "Galaxy's Edge," has been called the best ride at any theme park (though there are certainly other contenders) and the theme park land is an unqualified success at both locations. The same may not be true of Walt Disney's second big Star Wars theme park bet.
Image source: Walt Disney
Disney has built its theme park and cruise line business on offering premium experiences. A trip to Disney World or Disneyland costs dramatically more than bringing your family to a Six Flags (SIX) – Get Free Report or some other regional theme park. The same can be said of the company's cruise line which charges significantly more than family-cruise rivals Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report and Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report.
That's a model that has worked for Disney because its theme parks and cruise ships offer experiences that its rivals do not. The Mouse House has tried to extend that model to its Star Wars brand by building "Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser," an immersive hotel that puts guests into a Star Wars story.
Basically the "Galactic Starcruiser," experience, which starts at roughly $5,000 for two people for the two-night experience offers what could be called a "land cruise." Guests enter a Star Wars bubble in/on the hotel/ship which takes them for a stop at "Galaxy's Edge."
It's fully immersive and unlike anything offered at any theme park. At first, it was a surprise hit, selling out consistently. Now, Disney has been forced to cancel a number of "Galactic Starcruiser" dates and that may be a sign of a very big problem.
Only a very select group of people can afford to spend $5,000 (or more) on a two-night experience no matter how awesome it is. And, while there may be a lot of people willing to do that once, you have to question how many Star Wars fans will want to repeat the experience.
It's possible that Disney has already exhausted the potential audience for "Galactic Starcruiser" based on a new report from Theme Park Tourist.
"This week, Disney has canceled a number of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages for select dates in July, August and September due to low-occupancy. Those guests affected have been contacted and offered another date with a 50% reduction," the website shared.
The popular theme park website has also made a troubling allegation against Walt Disney.
"A number of our readers have also noticed Facebook posts which advertise the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and include lesser known characters. There appear to be quite a few “absolutely loved this” posts from people claiming they were guests on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser which if you look at their profiles have no info at all, no town, school, or jobs. This leads us to question their authenticity," Theme Park Tourist alleged.
Overall, the cancellations are more troubling than potential fake reviews. It's possible that Disney built an attraction with tremendous appeal, but a limited audience due to price and little reason for people to visit more than once. You can take your family on a Disney Cruise for 7 nights for less than what Galactic Starcruiser costs and that's a lot easier to justify than a two-day trip.
 

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