Ten years ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger negotiated the groundbreaking acquisition that brought Lucasfilm under the Disney umbrella.
In the years that followed, not only did Iger oversee the release of five Star Wars theatrical films and The Mandalorian's first season on Disney+, but also the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World.
In the wake of the poor reception to The Rise of Skywalker in late 2019, followed by Iger's own retirement in February 2020, new CEO Bob Chapek appeared to take a slightly different approach.
And, instead of a Star Wars land or new attraction at the Disney Parks, the CEO oversaw the debut of a new breed of travel and fan experience in March of 2022: the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
What is the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
While often labeled as a hotel or resort, the Galactic Starcruiser is far more than just a place to sleep.
Located next to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, the Starcruiser is structured similarly to that of a cruise.
Fans stay in cabins instead of guest rooms and enjoy buffets, live entertainment, onboard activities like lightsaber and bridge training, and even a "shore excursion" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
But where the Starcruiser truly breaks new ground is in its immersive, choose-your-adventure experience.
Fans who book the Galactic Starcruiser are there for two nights; and from the second they arrive, they're treated as if they're literally in the Star Wars Universe, taking a pleasure cruise aboard a ship called the Halcyon.
This illusion is reinforced by the look and feel of a ship traveling through space, including jumps through hyperspace, as well as food and drink inspired by Star Wars locales.
Guests are encouraged to cosplay and form their own character backstories, as well as interact with the ship's cast of Rodians, Twi'leks, and Togrutas both in person and on an app.
How guests choose to respond in these interactions and assigned "missions" determines whether they help the Resistance or support the First Order, culminating in a climactic event on the last night of the experience.
"I've Got a Bad Feeling About This..."
Before the Starcruiser ever opened its blast doors to the public, both Star Wars fans and theme park fans had their misgivings.
In addition to a failed ad campaign where the Starcruiser appeared cheap and even cartoonish, some guests were hesitant about being largely confined to a hotel for two nights with only screens as windows.
There was also the fact that, like Galaxy's Edge, the Halycon is set between the events of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Not only are these two films highly controversial amongst fans, but it means the most immersive Star Wars experience ever created is limited in terms of its characters.
While some sequel trilogy characters are popular, the fact remains that Darth Vader, OG trilogy Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the Mandalorian are absent.
Others were hesitant about the concept of a multi-day role-playing experience that relied so heavily on participation and interactions.
Despite these concerns, the Starcruiser enjoyed a largely positive reception upon its debut, especially in terms of the quality of its performers.
Still, a number of complaints remained, including that of price.
When the Starcruiser opened in early 2022, a two-night "voyage" for 2 guests per cabin was priced at $4,809 total.
For two adults and one child per cabin, rates hovered around $5,300 total.
While these steep rates do include meals and one-time entry to Galaxy's Edge's two attractions, it looked as if Disney was targeting only the wealthiest percentage of the vacationing public and pricing out others.
Can Bob Iger Bring Balance to the Force?
Two months after the Galactic Starcruiser debuted, Disney's then-CEO Bob Chapek touted the "strong demand" for the Star Wars experience that opened under his watch.
But now, out ahead of the Starcruiser's one-year anniversary, that demand is seemingly non-existent; and it's Iger - not Chapek - who's left holding the bag.
At the time of writing, only one voyage (which is the equivalent of two nights) between January and September of 2023 is completely booked.
For reference, the Starcruiser houses 100 cabins and suites with a max capacity of 502 guests.
Still, despite Chapek's claim earlier in the year, guest drop-off isn't new.
Recent reports claimed that occupancies have been low, leading Disney to cut employee hours and additional entertainment.
While the Galactic Starcruiser was intended to be Disney's next-generation vacation experience, and one that immersed guests in one of its biggest IPs, it now stands as yet another Lucasfilm-related problem Iger has to deal with.
Disney and Lucasfilm may be leaving cash on the table in keeping Star Wars out of the theaters, but the Starcruiser is actually losing money due to the absence of guests.
Now, it is worth noting that days after Iger's return, Disney offered its first-ever discount for the Galactic Starcruiser to Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. Whether that offer was previously planned, or the result of Iger's comeback, is unknown.
Still, a single discount is unlikely to save this sinking starship or Disney's reputation for its handling of Star Wars IP in its parks and resorts.
With 2023 just around the corner, it will be fascinating to see how the CEO addresses both the absence of Star Wars films and the demand for the touted Starcruiser.
But for now, it's safe to say that Bob Iger has more than one Star Wars issue to handle before his two-year contract concludes.