Money at 30: Thrifting Our Way Into Disney’s New Star Wars Experience
Today, Walt Disney World debuted its latest and perhaps one of its most ambitious projects: the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser. While it’s colloquially referred to as the “Star Wars hotel” by many, the two-day affair actually promises to be an immersive experience that takes on the theme of an interplanetary cruise. What also differentiates the Galactic Starcruiser from a typical hotel is the price, with packages typically ranging from $4,000 to $7,000 for standard accommodations. On the bright side, the experience is all-inclusive, with meals (minus alcoholic beverages), one-day park tickets, and other such amenities covered.
As I briefly mentioned previously, my wife and I are actually slated to embark on one of these pricey “cruises” in just a few weeks. And, indeed, we did pay a pretty penny in order to check out the experience. Yet, there are some things we just couldn’t bring ourselves to pay for. Thus, as the Starcruiser takes flight for its maiden voyage today, I wanted to share a few ways we’re cutting costs on what’s sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Sharing our cabin
Starting with the most obviously money-saving solution, we’re actually sharing our room with a pair of friends. In fact, I’ll go ahead and blame them for inspiring this pricey endeavor in the first place! Regardless of who roped in whom (it was totally them), we decided to split a standard “stateroom” between the four of us. By the way, the room does include one queen bed, two bunks, and apparently an additional pull-down bed. So, in theory, it could really sleep five.
Although this plan does go a long way toward keeping costs down, there are some things to remember. Namely, since your reservation includes meals, tickets, etc., adding people to your party does adjust the rate more than it would at a normal hotel.
By the way, in total, our complete booking came to $6,634.32. That made our share $3,317.16 — so definitely still crazy expensive for a two-day, two-night event. It’s also worth noting that 20% of this was due at the time of the booking (although was refundable up until a certain date), with the rest due a couple of months later.
Avoiding the weekend
As expensive as our chosen dates were, it could have been worse. Originally, we were eyeing a cruise that would have entered into the weekend. Just like at a regular hotel, this apparently comes with a premium as the quoted price jumped by more than $1,500. Luckily, we realized that this slightly-later slot worked well for our schedule after all and we were able to avoid that extra cost.
Making the most of the park time
For any cruise experience, while the amenities on the ship itself are a big selling point, there are typically ports to explore as well. Sure enough, in the case of the Starcruiser, passengers will have the chance to spend a day on Batuu. If you don’t know what that is, well, it’s the name of the planet featured in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — the land found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and Disneyland). As I mentioned, entry to Batuu is included with your fare, so it’s a nice opportunity to get out and explore.
One thing that’s cool is that the experience also includes priority access to two of Battu’s most popular attractions: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Having only had the chance to do this pair of attractions a couple of times before, I’m definitely excited to experience them again — and with shorter lines. In particular, Rise of the Resistance is a truly masterful attraction with so much to see on every ride through.
And while immersion is a big part of the Galactic Starcruiser experience, seeing as we’re no longer Walt Disney World pass holders, we can’t help but take advantage of our park day. Thus, I suspect we’ll be venturing “off-world” to enjoy some of what else Hollywood Studios has to offer. With one-day, one-park tickets running upwards of $150 these days, it’s definitely in our best interest to make the most of our park time and, in turn, increase the value we get from our Starcruiser booking.
Forgoing the pre-made costumes and thrifting instead
I’ll admit that, when we first booked our Galactic Starcruiser adventure, I assumed I’d mostly just play observer. This is to say that I didn’t have much interest in the LARPing (live-action role-playing) aspects of the experience — and, honestly, I still don’t. However, after seeing some early footage and reviews from media previews, something changed within me. Specifically, despite my original plan to just wear the same jeans and t-shirt I typically sport on the daily, I suddenly felt the desire to dress up.
Disney, of course, was counting on this and has outfits available on shopDisney. As you might have guessed, these too fetch a hefty price. For example, the “Saber Trainer Tunic” I kind of liked goes for $79.99. Mind you, this fee is on top of the $3k+ we already spent. Plus, in all reality, I would likely only wear this outfit once — save a possible convention resurrection sometime in the future. So, instead of ponying up for such extras, we took matters into our own hands.
This past weekend, we headed out to a couple of local thrift shops to see what kind of galactic treasures we could find. To our surprise, we found some potentially useful pieces for our outfits. For me, we found a barber coat that, when worn with a belt and perhaps some embellishments, doesn’t feel far removed from the Star Wars universe. Meanwhile, my wife found both a dress and an interesting gold top that could be incorporated into her finished look.
The grand total for these items? $16. Granted, they’re likely not done on their own, but they’re a strong start to three outfits compared to $80 for a single shirt! Better yet, while we’re likely to see plenty of other passengers wearing the same tunics, we’ll have the benefit of standing out a bit… er, hopefully for the best.
With only a few weeks to go until we get to board the Halcyon (the official in-story name of the ship) for ourselves, we’re definitely getting excited. What’s more, having paid off our final balance months ago, we don’t really have to worry about extra expenses as we draw near — well, at least we won’t now that we’ve dodged some pricey extras. Ultimately, despite our best efforts, our Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience will never reach the ranks of “budget,” but hopefully, when all is said and done, it will still be well worth it.