Blasting off to a galaxy far, far away is no longer a pipe dream for Star Wars fans. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an immersive two-day, two-night adventure, officially launched at Walt Disney World on March 1, 2022. More than just a Star wars hotel, this “space voyage” aboard the Halcyon starcruiser simulates a luxury cruise across the galaxy packed with nonstop characters, immersive role play, and themed dining and entertainment, and puts guests in control of their Star Wars experience. At about $6,000 for the two-night voyage for four, families will want to take into account a number of factors — including kids’ ages and interests — to ensure they’re choosing the best time to go and to get maximum value out of this premium experience. I took my first voyage on the Halcyon with my husband and two sons during a media preview and our Star Wars-loving family had the time of our lives in a galaxy far, far away. Here’s everything you need to know about voyaging on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser with kids.
Create Your Own Story
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a fully immersive experience. Guests are encouraged to arrive with a backstory — or just an open mind to step into the story onboard and see where it takes you. You’ll have countless opportunities to interact with and get to know characters, as well as your fellow passengers, some of whom will be costumed and so immersed in their own characters that you may even mistake them for actors. Many of our fellow passengers not only never broke character, but did a wonderful job interacting with our kids, just like the crew members. By the end of our voyage, those with whom we found ourselves aligned over the course of the days’ events felt like friends.
Use Your Datapad to Drive Your Experience
There’s no way around it — devices are essential to the Galactic Starcruiser experience, so this is one vacation where screen time is practically required. Every guest should have their own “datapad” (aka smart device) loaded with the Play Disney Parks app, which will include your Events — up-to-the minute itinerary; Comms — messages and instructions from characters; Tools to hack, scan, and translate Aurebesh, the writing system used in the Star Wars universe; a Map of the Halcyon and of Batuu, the Outer Rim planet that’s home to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that you’ll visit during an excursion on day two of your voyage; and your Profile, where you’ll find your list of Associates and the level of familiarity and trust you share with each of them.
To begin to forge your own story and path on the ship, it’s important to keep track of your Events and to engage in the Comms channel, responding to messages and answering questions. This is where you’ll begin to forge allegiances and establish your place within the story of your voyage.
Kids and guests who do not have a smart device can borrow one for use during their journey. If your entire party wants to stick together during your voyage, it’s a good idea to align your engagement and answers to questions in the Comms channel to follow the same path.
We ended up splitting into two sides as a family — I joined my five-year-old in supporting the First Order’s efforts while my husband and eight-year-old son lent their help to the Resistance. By the second day of the voyage, we began to receive divergent missions and invitations to different meetings. We loved splitting up and getting two experiences during these shorter story moments — and there were plenty of opportunities to reconnect and catch back up throughout the day.
It’s especially important to team up if you have a kiddo who can’t yet read. I spent a lot of time helping my son keep track of his Comms channel — he was rapidly enamored with the magnetic First Order Lieutenant Croy and was eager to please him, never missing a message or a request for help. I read the messages to Auden and let him choose the answers he wanted to send or missions he wanted to accept, and then I’d then hop on my own datapad and mirror those choices to ensure our paths remained the same. I began our voyage ready to help the Resistance, but Lt. Croy hooked me too, and I disembarked a proud First Order Loyalist.
What’s the Best Age for Kids to Experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
If you’re only planning to experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser once (just wait, we’re already desperate to return), it’s a good idea to give serious consideration to the ages of your kids when you go. While children are welcome at any age, our youngest is five and we felt that he is probably on the lower end for an optimal age for kids on the Halcyon. He’s a massive Star Wars fan so he understood the storyline and characters well, and played along as well as our 8-year-old son — with my help reading his datapad. A younger child who lacked interest or was unable to follow the storyline would probably need a lot of parental attention that could take away from the family’s overall experience. Here’s a look at some of the moments that made the experience so special for our kids.
Sleep needs are another major consideration. Families can choose between one of two dinner seatings — 5:30 or 8 p.m. Your time will be the same both nights of your voyage. Major activities that drive the story forward take place before and after dinner, with climactic moments running through 10 p.m. There is no childcare available onboard the ship, so you’ll either want to be sure your kids can stay up that late, or you’ll need someone in your party willing to miss out if younger kids need to go to bed.
There are activities and story moments taking place quite literally every minute of the voyage. It’s not essential, nor is it possible, to participate in all of them, but we tried our best not to miss a moment. Taking a break for nap or quiet time in your room during the day is possible, but you do run the risk of missing something. Even when there aren’t scheduled events on your itinerary, there’s a good chance you’ll bump into a character, from the ship’s captain or cruise director to a roaming Stormtrooper or alien musician.
Height is yet another consideration for kids. In addition to height requirements on the rides in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (more on that below), one of the best experiences onboard the ship — bridge training — would be tough to do if a child isn’t tall enough to reach the controls. See more on ride height requirements in the Galaxy’s Edge section below.
What to Pack
Costumes are optional, but dressing up definitely enhances your experience, and if your costume has a clear Light Side or Dark Side vibe, the characters on board will likely pick up on it and engage accordingly. Many kids on our voyage wore Star Wars Halloween costumes, dressing as a favorite character, but our boys opted to be their own Force-sensitive selves, wearing light and dark Jedi tunics and robes that we ordered from ShopDisney.
An exclusive collection of costumes on shopDisney is also available only to guests with confirmed sailings on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, and features fun options for kiddos, including some that look just like the outfits worn by some of the main characters onboard. A similar selection is also available onboard the ship in The Chandrila Collection just off the atrium.
Your 45-hour experience aboard the Halcyon is so fast-paced that you won’t want to waste time with extra costume changes. Our kids wore one outfit on embarkation day, one outfit on day two, which includes a visit to Batuu (aka Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge), and a simple T-shirt and pants on debarkation day, when all you have time for is breakfast before leaving the ship.
Arriving at the Halcyon
I highly recommend arriving just before 1 p.m. so you can board the Halcyon as early as possible to get the most out of your experience. To speed things up, be sure to check in online in advance. A crew member will greet you at the terminal to provide you with exclusive Halcyon MagicBands before directing you to the Launch Pod for your journey from Earth to meet the ship.
Airlock doors swoosh open to a bright, elegant atrium. The heart of the ship, the atrium is where many of Galactic Starcruiser’s characters are introduced and overarching story moments take place. It’s also where alliances begin to form. My five-year-old rapidly aligned with Lieutenant Croy and the First Order, eager to receive instructions and become a part of their mission to root out Resistance members onboard the ship.
Cabins on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Apart from the ship’s bridge, nothing makes the Halcyon feel more convincingly like a space cruise than the guest cabins. Laid out very similarly to a cruise ship, standard cabins include a queen-size bed, two bunk beds, and a pull-down bed, and sleep five total guests, regardless of age. Bunk beds are very generous and, according to a 6′ 3″ friend, comfortably fit taller adults, but it’s the kiddos who will lose their minds for them. Cut into the walls just like in the movies and lined with bright orange padding, bunks give kids their own little nook, enclosed on three sides, with a small reading light inside. The bedding for the bunks and pull-down bed is a rolled-up “sleeping bag” that was a huge hit with the kids too.
In place of a window, cabins have a viewport into space, where you can watch passing ships and nearby planets. The viewport “opens and closes” with the push of a button, and your kids will definitely want to do the honors. Your “vidscreen,” aka television, displays a live map of your voyage and will show you where you are within the galaxy.
The ship also includes Galaxy Class suites, which sleep four passengers in a more spacious cabin with a living space, but, with kids, I’d personally choose the standard cabin over this one because the suite doesn’t include the bunk beds. Plus, you’ll spend so little time in your room that the extra space just isn’t very important.
For larger families or combined parties, the Grand Captain Suite is a two-bedroom suite that sleeps eight and includes two bunk beds, two queen beds, and two pull-down beds, plus a living space and second bathroom. If you have more than four children, your options are the Grand Captain Suite or two cabins.
Parents should note that none of the rooms include bathtubs, though at just a maximum 45-hour experience, many kids too young for showers are probably OK to skip the bath until they’re off the ship.
Food on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Dining is a major highlight on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Meals on your voyage are a feast for the eyes and stomach, and there are so many options in so little time that you’ll be spoilt for choice. All main meals are served in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room, but take a few different forms.
Breakfasts and Lunches
Breakfast and lunch are buffets served bento-style and guests can choose from a huge array of dishes and assemble their own colorful concoction on a tray. If you normally shy away from buffets, as I do, keep an open mind with this one. This is elevated fare of a much higher quality than you’d find on any other Walt Disney World buffet.
Dishes are artistically plated and most look more exotic than they taste — grilled cheese looks like an other-worldly, bubbly waffle; PB&J is reimagined as sunflower butter and jelly in a little green pod; and chicken nuggets are compressed “Tip Yip” cubes. Kid-friendly favorites like eggs, waffles, blueberry muffins, bacon and sausage are available at breakfast. If picky kids shy away from any component of a dish as it’s presented, dining room staff are extremely accommodating and happy to get you a scaled-back plate.
You’ll have the option to have one lunch in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo or Ronto Roasters, but I highly recommend having breakfast right before you go, completing all of the activities on Batuu (more on those next), and then returning to the ship for lunch. Food on Batuu is delicious, but lunches are different on day one and two onboard, and the opportunity to eat on the Halcyon is one you won’t likely have again as easily as visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options are also served in the Sublight Lounge. Coffee, water, juice, whole fruit, and a box of assorted pastries is available to grab before you head to Batuu on your second morning or off the ship on your third morning.
For drinks in the dining room during breakfast and lunch, apple, orange, cranberry, and grapefruit juice are available, as well as a self-serve soda station, blue and green milk, and for parents, self-serve coffee, tea by request, and wine, beer and cocktails for purchase. White milk is readily available upon request. At dinner all drinks are served by your server.
Dinner is served both nights in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room. The first night is another bento-style presentation that begins with colorful, pan-seared Spiral Dumplings filled with Tip Yip Chicken, Bantha Beef, or Flora Vegetables and served with Interplanetary Dipping Sauces and a Flora Noodle Salad. The second course is a selection of beef, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables served with green herbed fluffy rice.
Kids can share the family-style courses or order from the Younglings’ Menu, which includes a selection of starters, the plainest of which is a fruit cup, and entrees like Grilled Chicken Tip Yip Swords, Fried Tip Yip Chicken Chunks, and Cheese Pizza. Simple sides like buttered noodles, steamed green beans, fruit, and waffle fries (a favorite with my five-year-old) help round out meals for picky kids.
Dinner on night two — Taste Around the Galaxy — is the most exotic of the menus during the voyage, and pickier kiddos will definitely want to order from the kids menu for this one (though my adventurous eight-year-old loved the blue shrimp). Another menu highlight for the kids was the blue milk and cookies for dessert.
Dinners are fast-paced, with food constantly hitting the table and characters regularly appearing as part of the overall story. The first night features an extended performance by galactic superstar Gaya, and the second night includes some important story moments (so choose your timing wisely if anyone needs a bathroom break!). We typically bring an arsenal of art supplies to keep my kids occupied during table-service meals, but they didn’t need anything to stay entertained during dinners on the Halcyon.
Allergies and Other Dietary Restrictions
Allergies and other dietary restrictions are well accommodated onboard the Halcyon. Vegans and vegetarians have a broad range of options at every meal. For other restrictions, guests are asked to visit the Crown of Corellia Dining Room between 1 and 4 p.m. on embarkation day to speak with a chef or crew member and needs will be accommodated.
Otherworldly cocktails, snacks, and small plates are available in the Sublight Lounge, which is open all day and late into the evening. A similar but smaller food menu and the same cocktails can also be ordered from servers in the Atrium. Sublight Lounge is the most adult-feeling space onboard the ship. Kids are welcome and it’s definitely worth bringing your younglings in to look around and check out the Holo-Sabacc table in the middle of the lounge, but our kiddos mostly spent time outside of the lounge.
In the atrium, a bar is regularly replenished with both salty and sweet snacks, from popcorn and goldfish to trail mix, cookies, and Rice Krispie treats. A self-serve water station dispenses chilled still, chilled sparkling, and ambient water.
Prepare to Get Sucked In
A 4 p.m. Muster sets the wheels in motion for your adventure. This is when you’ll meet many of the key players for the first time, and get your first taste of the conflicts that lie ahead. From here, it’s a dizzying whirlwind of excitement and interactions. Everywhere you turn, you’ll spot characters engaging with small pockets of guests. As you interact, you’ll get opportunities to scan your MagicBand, further cementing your association with certain characters. Think you know whose side you want to be on? Stick with them as much as possible and reject their adversaries’ requests in your Comms channel.
My eight-year-old stayed true to the Resistance, helping Rey, Chewie, and Sammie, the ships charming-but-uncertain mechanic. My five-year-old wanted nothing but to be a faithful servant to Lt. Croy and the First Order, and it paid off. He put in his time (and turned in his Resistance brother) and landed himself on a first-name basis with his new favorite Star Wars character. Here are a few highlights from their interactions:
Excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Just like on a regular cruise, your voyage aboard the Halcyon includes an excursion off the ship. Grab breakfast in the Crown of Corellia Dining room before boarding a transport shuttle to the Outer Rim planet of Batuu, aka Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Before boarding your transport, you’ll be given a pin to wear, denoting you’re a Halcyon passenger. This acts as an extra way for Batuu locals (aka Disney cast members) to recognize you as a Halcyon passenger — and based on our experience, give you the VIP treatment. When you step off the transport shuttle you’ll find yourself immediately in the middle of Black Spire Outpost, Batuu’s bustling center (no passing through the park’s main gates as you would during a normal visit to the theme park). When you visit during your Halcyon voyage, the story is never broken, making this an ideal way to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the first time.
If you’ve visited Galaxy’s Edge in the past, you may be thinking it’s not worth your time to visit during your Galactic Starcruiser experience (as a Batuu regular, I wondered the same). But, whether you know Black Spire Outpost like the back of your hand or it’s your first time visiting, you should definitely plan to make the trip, primarily because it’s an important part of furthering your story and missions via your datapad.
The transport shuttle to Batuu is a ride on its own right — and no amount of money will get you on without a voyage on the Halcyon. Your visit also includes priority access to Walt Disney World’s highest-demand attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, as well as Galaxy’s Edge’s second extremely popular ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. If you’ve been monitoring your Comms channel on your datapad, chances are you’ll have some tasks tied to riding the rides too.
You also might get the chance to see some characters while on Batuu. Spot Kylo Ren and First Order Stormtroopers near the Tie Echelon and Rey, Chewie, and Vi near the Millennium Falcon or near the Resistance encampment.
One major factor to consider where rides are concerned is that both have a height requirement (40″ for Rise of the Resistance and 38″ for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run). If any of your kids aren’t tall enough, you can utilize the Rider Switch option that lets those tall enough trade off, but it will also slow down your day and mean less fun for the littles. It’s not a dealbreaker, but if you’re on the fence about timing, waiting until all of your kids are above 40″ could be a good move.
You’ll also have the opportunity to reserve a visit to Oga’s Cantina, Batuu’s must-visit watering hole. Reminiscent of Mos Eisley’s infamous bar, Oga’s is definitely geared a bit more towards adults than younglings, but it’s still worth a visit for families. Order a Blue Bantha (blue milk topped with a fun cookie) or one of Oga’s other non-alcoholic drinks for the kiddos, and parents can get an adult beverage (it’s five o’clock somewhere in the galaxy) while you complete your missions with some special help from your server.
Two other add-on Batuu experiences you can include in your Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser excursion to Black Spire Outpost are building a droid at Droid Depot ($99.99) and building a lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers ($219.99). We have done both of these worthwhile experiences prior to the opening of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and highly recommend them, but they don’t enhance your experience on the Halcyon in any notable ways, so if you have another day on Batuu after your Galactic Starcruiser voyage, I’d recommend saving the time and reserving those experiences for before or after your voyage.
Can’t-Miss Kid Experiences on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Without childcare offered onboard, kids are welcome at all of the activities included on your family’s itinerary, but some are better for little kids and more important to prioritize than others. Bridge training on day one is is a must-do. It helps set the stage on your first day and is like a giant, interactive video game you play with a roomful of teammates. Plus, you get to make the jump to hyperspace, and if that’s not a Star Wars dream come true, I’m not sure what is.
The main lightsaber training experience is also a highlight, but it’s limited to guests over the age of seven. Guided by a Force-sensitive Saja, participants face off against a training remote, alternating between using a lightsaber and a shield. My five-year-old definitely struggled with being left out of this one. We were told he could come in the room with us, but would need to sit in the back and watch. When a crew member saw how sad he was, she sat with him and kept him company during the experience and he ended up having a great time.
There are several experiences reserved just for the littlest kids on board, who are referred to as the “Loth-Cat Crew.” Loth-Cat Crew activities are recommended primarily for kids under age seven, but they’re more flexible on age cutoffs than they are during Lightsaber Training, the only activity onboard with a firm age restriction. During Loth-Cat Crew Lightsaber Training, little ones get their chance to test their lightsaber skills by facing off against a family member. Kiddos get a blue or green blade and are “Loth-Cats” and grown-ups get red blades and are “Loth-Wolves.” You’ll be coached through a series of moves for several cycles. Our eight-year-old was also allowed to participate alongside his little brother for this one, taking on my husband and me. An “Image Scanner,” aka PhotoPass photographer, is also present for the entire experience and takes photos both during the training and with each family after they’ve finished.
Other Activities for Kids
The Loth-Cat Porg Detection Drill is a hide-and-find game where kids search for stuffed porgs deep within the Engineering Room. It’s a bit silly, but our five-year-old loved it. Droid racing in the atrium is another fun activity for kiddos. While you’re welcome to bring your own droid from Droid Depot, plenty are provided for guests to borrow if they don’t have their own.
What Not to Pack
Scroll back up for what sort of clothes to bring, but two things to leave at home if you’re trying to cut down on luggage are droids and lightsabers. In story, lightsabers are weapons, so Halcyon passengers aren’t allowed to travel with them (blame the intergalactic TSA) and wield them with the blades attached except in lightsaber training, where you’re required to use the sabers provided rather than your own. You can bring the hilt around the ship with you, but unless you have a good belt clip, I’d recommend leaving them at home because you’ll need your hands free for your datapad.
The Halcyon isn’t Mos Eisley Cantina, but I’d still recommend leaving droids at home too. Droid racing is a brief activity you might not even end up finding time to do, and it’s not worth the extra space to bring your own when you can use the droids on the ship for racing.
Lock In Those Memories
If you’re looking to commemorate your experience with some excellent photos, be sure to book the CSL Portrait Experience in advance. Similar to the “Capture Your Moment” private photo session from Disney PhotoPass that you can do in the theme parks, $99 on Galactic Starcruiser will get you a 30-minute private photoshoot with an “Image Scanner,” aka Disney PhotoPass photographer, in uncrowded locations around the ship. The experience needs to be booked by phone in advance, and includes the high-resolution downloads.
There’s no denying it — Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a big investment. At $6,000 for for four, there are plenty of other family vacations you could take for a longer period of time for less money. Our family has been fortunate to experience many other incredible Disney vacations, from Walt Disney World to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, to Disneyland to some incredible Disney cruises. But, we have never been so moved so quickly by an experience as we were by our time on the Halcyon.
Maybe it was our love for Star Wars.
Maybe it was the incredible character interactions that made us feel so connected to them that by the end of the second night, we couldn’t believe we’d only just met them the day before. My eight-year-old knew perfectly well that Rey was an actor, but his passion and excitement as he spoke to her about what he’d learned during his missions that might help the Resistance was like nothing I’ve ever seen from him. Watching my slightly shy five-year-old march up to his beloved Lt. Croy to out his big brother for helping the Resistance is a memory I will hold forever.
And maybe it was also that it’s been two solid years of watching two Disney-loving kids keep growing up and never getting close to a character at a Disney park. The unfamiliar normalcy of taking masks off and experiencing so much up-close interaction with characters and with strangers might have impacted us more than we first realized too. My five-year-old has loved Darth Vader since he was a baby, and longed to turn four and get his chance to wield a lightsaber and battle Lord Vader like his big brother. Then Covid hit and Jedi training and Darth Vader meet-and-greets became things of the past. Thinking of that window of lost moments for my son has always made me sad, and I think that’s part of what moved me so much about my boys finally getting to have these experiences.
There’s no doubt that just like Disney parks, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is an experience that can be enjoyed by adults without kids just as deeply as by a family with children. But when you’re grown up, the timing isn’t as important. There’s a magical sweet spot with kids at certain ages that leads to unforgettable moments and memories that can never be recreated.
Kids’ ages and stages are so fleeting and I couldn’t feel more strongly that we hit this one at exactly the perfect time for our boys.
My boys cried when it was over, and now that we’re back home, we miss it — a lot. We will be back.
Is it claustrophobic? What about fresh air?
This is a common question but my firm answer is no. You arrive to the Halcyon no earlier than 1 p.m. the first day, and spend half of the second day on Batuu, and depart by 10 a.m. on the third day, so you’re really never inside for more than half a day. If you’re desperate for fresh air, you can always head to the Climate Simulator, an open air space that “simulates” the climate of the planet it’s heading to. You are also able to leave Galactic Starcruiser at any time if you need or want to.
Do kids get a chance to run around and get their energy out?
While there aren’t specific kids play areas — the ship’s Engineering Room probably comes closest to being like a play area, with lots of buttons and dials and interactivity. However, the story action on the ship has you constantly roaming — in some cases my eight-year-old was in a flat-out sprint from one location to the next and at points we laughed at how sweaty he got from being so busy and into it. Kids shouldn’t have a problem getting enough space to move around.
Can you bring a stroller with you?
You can bring a stroller onboard, but it wouldn’t be very practical to bring it into some of the small spaces or to have it with you during certain action-packed story moments when you’re moving place to place.
Is anything scary for kids?
Nothing is overtly scary. There are some slightly dramatic moments with yelling, loud noises, and flashing lights, and some fight sequences, but nothing explicitly scary. My five-year-old loved every second of it.
(This article was originally published on Better. )