Why Did the Star Wars Hotel Fail? (Part 3)

Why Did the Star Wars Hotel Fail? (Part 3)

Why did the star wars hotel fail part 3

The live action role playing was at the heart of the now late Star Wars Hotel.  Disney Marketing’s peculiar attempts at distracting people from this notwithstanding, this really was the point and purpose of the experience, everything else like the lightsaber training and Sabac tournaments was just window dressing. 

The LARP concept was interesting. It was a hybrid of live NPC actors providing key engagement moments and live action cutscenes as rewards for a player’s actions. This was to be supported and managed by an app that would send the player communications from an AI version of the NPC.   The NPC actors were on a rigid schedule, they would be at a certain time at a certain place, the app would send you messages from the app version of the NPC character telling you when and where to be.  You could only make replies from a menu of pre-wrtten dialog trees.   Your choices from this menu determined how the actor would interact with you later and what story scenes would be unlocked for you or conversely remain locked.

The NPC actors all had ear pieces with proximity detectors, if your smart phone came within interaction range the NPC actor would be told what to say to you.   For instance you have been interacting with Captain Keevan on the App, and then the App NPC Keevan assigns you a certain task, the App tracks whether you’ve done the tasks or not and then App NPC texts you to “Meet me on the bridge at 20:00.”  The App knows the NPC actor’s schedule. You show up on the bridge at the appointed time and the App on your smartphone tells the Actor NPC if you’ve done the task or not. There was a reputational component as well. Let’s say it’s on a 1-10 scale, the app tells the Captain Keevan NPC actor your reputation is an 8  you’ll be greeted as a dear friend as well as thanked for performing the mission.  Although, that same score would be inverted for the First Order Lieutenant, and he would treat you frostily because to him you are a 2. 

NPCs that you have a high reputation with will then take you to your own story moments like, “My friend Chewbacca has been put in the brig. Let’s break him out.”  There would also be “cut scenes,” If you’re with the First Order you might get to sit in on a video conference between the lieutenant and the Disney Dollar Store Darth Vader (yes, I mean Kylo).

There were also time blocks that kept you out of play while other players interacted with the NPC actors.  This was stuff like light saber training, bridge orientation, a Sabaac tournament, breakfast, dinner and the trip to Galaxy’s Edge.  The App manages your schedule. 

If you have been an aggressive or at least pro-active player the NPC actors may give you a by name call out some time during the finale. 

I should stress that this is how a very complicated process is supposed to work in theory. Which means that this Disney app would need to work flawlessly.  If you know anything at all about Disney Parks’ apps you’re already laughing. 

Granted, the system did work.  Occasionally.  Those people were perfectly happy with their Star Wars adventure from start to finish. They interacted with the right actors they wanted to and were assigned missions to complete, got the unlocks and cutscenes they wanted, plus a few shout outs during  the finale. These happy souls had nothing but praise for the Star Wars Hotel and they tended to sneer about “skill issues” for the people with complaints. Not considering the possibility that a broken clock is still correct twice a day, and if it told them the right time in that one instance they looked at it, then they would assume the clock always worked perfectly.

There were a lot of very unhappy people that felt they’d been strongarmed into a storyline whether they wanted to be on that path or not.  Which is likely because of the time constraints.  This game couldn’t afford to have too many players on one track. Consequently, people that wanted to serve the First Order ended up as smugglers. Or would-be Resistance heroes became servants of darkness.

However, quite a few people that I talked to felt that the app just ghosted them. No matter how hard they tried to interact with NPC actors, they were getting the cold shoulder, “I see, you want me to incriminate myself with the First Order. Well, I won’t fall for it.”  These people were given no missions at all by the system.  Now, if you went to the front desk and told them about it, the cast members would apologize and just put you on a story path.  

The problem was, you had to figure out that that was what you needed to do and a lot of people didn’t. There weren’t that many resources on this game.  So, they just rode out their sucky, non-refundable, six thousand dollar experience in broken hearted misery.

Guests would be transported out to Batuu on the morning of the second day, Disney had originally planned to use a sort of train but switched to box truck for budget reasons..  Guests would arrive at the park before rope drop so they briefly had it to themselves. Aside from the only two rides available, they could do interactive missions.  What this meant was you’d look for buildings or boxes with a QR code, scan the code which would open a very simple puzzle or game.  You would beat that game and be informed that you’d done a thing by the app.  There was absolutely no real world interactions resulting from this.  Nothing lit up, no statue moved. A Droid didn’t go beep. You would just have the app say you had done something of consequence when you clearly had nothing to show for it.

Your only reward was a text on your smartphone.

That was mostly your reward for doing anything on the Halcyon.  You would just get a text message telling you that something had been accomplished and occasionally to go see one of the NPC actors at a certain time. 

There were some special effects moments that worked quite well.  When Rey opened a holocron there was a very neat little “hologram” of Yoda delivering a message of hope.

The finale after dinner was by all accounts a great little lightsaber floor show.  The First Order takes over the ship. Kylo Ren shows up and threatens the audience.  There was some calls and responses. Then Rey arrives and uses the lightsaber prop from the commercial, then the audience is distracted while she changes to the stunt lightsaber. Rey and Kylo fight. Rey is thrown the Holocron and she escapes with it.  Kylo orders everyone including the First Order sympathizers, killed.  One of the Stormtroopers turns out to be a disguised good guy and takes the First Order Lt prisoner.  Captain Keevan gives a speech and then a fireworks in space show happens.  It was a good floor show  but it wasn’t substantially better than any of the live action shows you can see at any of the parks.

If you stuck around for the dessert tasting you got to see the end of Ouannii’s romance story if you were curious about that. The female-Greedo ends up with her guitarist.  

After that go to bed, have breakfast in the morning and get out.

The Star Wars Hotel under-delivered on everything it promised. As Jenny Nicholson put it, “There was just enough stuff in it, to fill a TikTok.”  The only thing that made it tolerable was of course the Disney Cast Members who as usual were the unsung heroes of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser.  Anyone with any fond memories of the Halcyon at all is usually due to the efforts of a cast member that went above and beyond the call of duty. 

The Star Wars Hotel did accomplish what it was meant to.  It made Bob Chapek the CEO of the Walt Disney Company. 

Everyone predicted that for the first six months it would filled to capacity by the well-to-do and idiot influencers but as these early adapters thinned out, attendance would drop like a stone. and for once everyone was right. That was exactly what happened. Either the prices were going to have to be cut or major changes made.

lt could have been salvaged as a dinner theater with a couple of showings a night and the cabins used for general storage.   Likely the only thing it will be used for now is conferences and training.  Although it’s just as likely the Halcyon will be left empty until its time to tear it down to build something else. As I said, it’s purpose to make Bob Chapek CEO of Disney.

Less than six months after Bob Iger was reinstalled on the Golden Mouse Throne, the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser was shutdown for a tax write down, along with the new HArmonius show at Epcot that Chapek had also championed. 

For those of you who remain sorry that you never got to stay at Star Wars themed hotel, fear not!  The Stella Nova Resort at Universal Studios opens next year.

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