Why The Galactic Starcruiser Crashed

Recently, Disney announced that its immersive, expensive Galactic Starcruiser hotel at Walt Disney World would close after just two years in operation. What? You didn’t know that Disney had a Star Wars-themed hotel set in a space ship – complete with droids and wookies – that cost a whopping $6,000 a weekend for a family of four? Neither did most people, I think, and therein lies the nature of its demise.

The crash of the luxury science fiction hotel was part of an overall Disney cost-cutting campaign, but like all business ventures, it would never have gotten the axe if it had been turning a profit. And why wasn’t a hotel based on one of the most popular film and TV franchises of all time attracting guests? Here’s my theory: nobody knew what it was – including Disney.

These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For

For starters, it’s difficult to nail down just who the target audience for the Galactic Starcruiser was. Was it old school Star Wars fans like me who remember watching the original movies in theaters (I still have a box of Star Wars action figures that are, unfortunately, in very bad shape from use)? Or was it aimed at young parents raised on the (awful but popular) sequel/prequels and their Mandalorian-watching kids? 

Probably both, but I feel like splitting the target like that may have created a bit of an identity crisis with the branding. Do young families want to pay that much for accommodations at Disney? After a day overloading on themed rides, junk food and character interaction, kids pretty much fall asleep as soon they get to the hotel. Your family could sleep in a linen closet, and they would never notice.

As for me, while I may secretly be intrigued by the idea of hanging out in the cantina on Tatooine, I’m not interested at all in doing so with a bunch of screaming kids. As a result of this paradox, the value proposition for this product is all topsy turvy, and the marketing for the Galactic Starcruiser seemed tepid at best (and non-existent at worst). I recall seeing a news story or two about the hotel when it debuted, but I don’t remember ever seeing any actual marketing messages.

And now this big idea ends up in the Death Star trash compactor with the dianogoa (yep, it has a name). What can you do to ensure that your own products don’t meet a similar fate? The first step is to be sure that your target audiences are clear, that your messaging is reaching the right people, and that your brand isn’t spread too thin (something the Star Wars franchise is struggling with as a whole). Think of it as a concise light saber attack instead of spraying blaster fire.

Want to talk branding? Want to find out how many Star Wars fans end up in the marketing business? Give us a call.