Where the Star Wars hotel went wrong and what it means for creators

Two Star Wars posts in as many days? It’s a record.

Actually, I had a totally different post queued for today, but when I hopped onto Twitter for a minute yesterday to check something, I couldn’t help but see this headline:

…and I busted out laughing. (Here’s the link to the article, by the way.)

I’m sure thousands of people are putting in their two cents on this right now (and have been for the past several months), and I wanted to do the same – only, I plan to look at this situation from the perspective of a creator.

If you don’t know the whole story, years ago, Disney announced they were creating this incredible and immersive Star Wars hotel called Galactic Starcruiser. At first, it sounded awesome! Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel and pretend like they’re in Star Wars the whole time?

But then when detail after cringey detail was announced, the dream was shattered.

First was the ludicrous price tag of $749-$1,209 per night per guest, depending on how many people were staying in your cabin. Next were the interior pictures that all looked…very not-Star Warsy. The final blow before the opening of the hotel was a video ad Disney put out that everyone hated on so much that they took it down immediately afterward. Then of course, after the launch, the reviews of mediocrity poured in.

I, of course, have not stayed at the hotel (I wouldn’t be asking for donations if I could afford it), but I could see its failure from a mile away. All of the reviews I’ve read have only confirmed my suspicions. People said it was just okay. And you can’t put a several-thousand-dollar price tag on something that’s okay.

In my opinion, the entire creation of Galactic Starcruiser is a testament to just how out of touch Disney – and specifically, Lucasfilm – is with their fans. The fact that Disney put millions of dollars on the line without listening to the fans that would be their only customers for this hotel… Well, you see the inherent problem. That’s why the fact they’re confused as to why it isn’t working is so funny to me and everyone else.

But actually, this flop doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to Star Wars fans, who have had to put up with this kind of stuff for a long time.

This is what happens when a story becomes disconnected from its fans.

There’s an age-old argument that writers debate over: do you write what you want, or what the fans want? I believe that you should write whatever you’re passionate about – at least to start. Once you gain a significant fanbase, though, suddenly you have other people to consider. Does this mean that you must succumb to every whim of your fans? Of course not! You’re still the creator and you still have power over your works.

But once other people are involved with those works, they’re no longer just for you. They’re for everyone else, too. You can choose to ignore your fans if you want to – just look at Louisa May Alcott, who literally made Jo not marry Laurie just because she got tired of everyone obsessing over them getting married eventually, thereby completely missing the point of Jo being an independent woman who could make her own way and didn’t need to be married.

In the case of Little Women, ignoring the fans worked. But that was around 150 years ago, and it was only a single book.

Star Wars is unique in that it’s evolved into something beyond just a story – it’s a culture, a multiverse, a family, and whatever else you want to call it. Star Wars very much belongs to the fans, as much as Lucasfilm seems to keep ignoring this. If they keep ignoring their fans, one day they’re going to look around and wonder where all the money went.

And that’s where Galactic Starcruiser fell short. All they had to do was poll ten dedicated Star Wars fans about what they would want this hotel to be like, and this flop wouldn’t be happening right now. But by what the end product looks like, it seems like someone who’s never even seen a Star Wars movie was put in charge of the design. Maybe it was a budget cut due to the pandemic, maybe something more happened behind the scenes that we don’t know, or maybe it was simple carelessness – the latter being the most likely in my opinion – but the truth is that Lucasfilm learned the hard way that you can’t make something for the fans without knowing the fans. All creators know this…except, apparently, the ones who make billions of dollars.

Will Lucasfilm and Disney actually learn from this blunder? Who knows! We can only hope, however slim that hope may be.

As my husband and I often say, “Put me in charge of Disney for a day…”

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Photo by Lawrence Hookham on Unsplash

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