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Star Wars hotel at Disney World like a cruise into space

Mike Schneider
Associated Press

Orlando, Fla. – It’s going to be a cruise to nowhere, but that will be just fine with die-hard “Star Wars” fans.

Disney officials on Tuesday offered new details on its recently announced Star Wars-themed resort in Florida.

“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser” will be like a two-day cruise in that it drops visitors into a completely self-contained world. Except instead of traveling on the high seas, visitors will be made to feel like they’ve been launched from a parking lot at Walt Disney World in Florida to a spaceship millions of miles above Earth.

A new Star Wars vacation experience unlike anything Disney has ever created before will fully immerse guests. When the Launch Pod docks with the Halcyon and the airlock opens, you will step into the ship’s main deck Atrium to begin your journey through a galaxy far, far away.

Once aboard the “ship,” visitors become part of a narrative involving other passengers, crew members and cast members dressed as Chewbacca or stormtroopers. They are given tours of the ship’s “bridge” where navigation and defense systems are explained. At various points during the two days, they may have to put knowledge they’ve acquired on the cruise to use as part of the storytelling, said Ann Morrow Johnson, a creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, during a presentation where video and still photography was prohibited.

The all-immersive experience also features entertaining activities, such as wielding a lightsaber while facing off against a training remote, where you may discover your own connection with the Force.

“There are characters on the ship, and many you will be meeting for the first time,” Johnson said. “It’s a dangerous time in the galaxy and you should be wary about who you make allegiances with because your choices matter. The choices will affect how your ‘Star Wars’ story unfolds.”

Guests will be able to visit the starcruiser’s Bridge to learn about ship systems and how to operate them, including navigation and defense – skills that may come in handy during a journey through this adventure-filled galaxy.

Hotel room windows won’t look out to the Florida sun and palm tree, but rather a screen showing the twinkly lights of stars in the vast darkness of space. The bedrooms have king-sized beds and also bunk beds built into the walls.

The opening date hasn’t been set yet.

The details on the hotel were given as Walt Disney World prepares to open its $1 billion, 14-acre (5.6-hectare) Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park on Thursday. A near-identical park opened in Disneyland in California earlier this summer.

Hondo Ahnaka welcomes guests in the cue of the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run ride.

Visitors staying at the Star Wars hotel will get to visit the new land, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” as their “port of call” during their two-day stay.

Park visitors walk near the entrance to the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run ride during a preview of the Star Wars themed land, Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios at Disney World, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The attraction will open Thursday to park guests.

Disney officials on Tuesday gave new details on the most anticipated ride at the Star Wars land. “Rise of the Resistance” won’t open at the Florida park until December, but Disney officials described it as one of the most ambitious and complicated rides ever built at a Disney park.

It has “everything that makes ‘Star Wars’ Star Wars, all in one attraction,” said Scott Trowbridge, creative portfolio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering.

A First Order officer, center, and two storm troopers on patrol during a preview of the Star Wars themed land, Galaxy's Edge.

Passengers on the ride are part of a rag-tag group of rebels who are pulled into the enemy First Order’s ship, where they try to make their way to an escape pod using a ride system. Once they arrive at the escape pod, their ride car gets into a motion-based simulator. There’s a stomach-in-throat surprise drop, and then the simulator makes them feel like they’re returning to their home planet.

“There’s a kick-in-the-pants final moment,” Trowbridge said.

Along the way, passengers encounter the Star Wars characters of Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren.

The X-Wing ship stands ready for flight at the Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios at Disney World, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

In a sneak peak of the unfinished ride given to journalists, doors swoosh open to reveal the command bridge of a Star Destroyer. Three dozen stormtroopers are lined up in three rows before a gigantic screen of small stars set against the blackness of space.

Ben Cline, his wife, Jen, and their two grade-school-age children, planned to wake up in the middle of the night Thursday so they can be among the first tourists to see the Florida version of the Star Wars land.

“It just sounds awesome, everything we’ve heard about it,” said Cline, a lifelong Star Wars fans who was visiting from Raleigh, North Carolina. “There’s a whole new generation of kids who will get exposed to it.”