How to plan an epic Disney 'Star Wars' trip — that doesn't cost $6,000
There's no denying Disney World's Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is the ultimate space-traveling, lightsaber-battling, Force-power-harnessing adventure.
This cross between a "Star Wars"-themed hotel and a two-night interactive theater experience also has the power to significantly lighten your wallet thanks to its hefty price tag. Pricing starts around $5,299 for a two-night, three-person voyage and TPG's Director of Travel Content Summer Hull recently paid $6,875 for her family of four to spend two nights aboard the Starcruiser.
You'll have to read her full review to find out if it was all worth it, but it's undeniably a lot of cash.
If you aren't looking to spend that amount of money for a two-night trip (however amazing the experience), there is another all-in way to scratch your "Star Wars" itch at Disney World for almost half the cost of the Galactic Starcruiser.
We've compiled a full "Star Wars" itinerary — including where to stay, what to eat, which parks to visit and which activities should be at the top of your list — that rings in much more affordably than the Galactic Starcruiser. May the Force (and a few thousand extra dollars) be with you.
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For apples-to-apples consistency, we will stick with the example of a family of four — two adults and two children under 10 years old — that TPG covered for the Starcruiser. But, unlike the short (less than) 48 hours you spend on board the Starcruiser, our "Star Wars" vacation in this example spans three days and four nights, including two Disney park days.
Pricing includes accommodations, tickets, meals and a few special souvenirs, all for less than $4,000.
See, we're already off to a better start.
Aside from the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, there are no hotel rooms at Disney World themed to "Star Wars." To find that, you'll have to head off-site to one of the many vacation rental communities near the park.
To better woo families, many of these rentals have themed kids bedrooms and we found one on Vrbo with "spaceship" loft beds that have "Star Wars" bedding, viewport windows and a slide that doubles as an escape hatch during playtime. Kids can use the area beneath the beds as their Rebel hideout. Unless, of course, you pull rank and send them to the main bedroom so you can live out your own "Star Wars" dreams.
Located about 10 miles from Disney World in Kissimmee's Reunion Resort and Golf Club, this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home sleeps eight guests and features a private pool, theater room, full kitchen and living area. You'll also have access to resort amenities like complimentary theme park transportation, swimming pools, sports courts, an on-site water park, fitness center, arcade and cafe.
The home has a four-night minimum, but with an average rate of around $235 for nights in September, a family of four could stay for a total of $1,748 all-in once all the taxes and fees are included.
We found a couple of less expensive options, as well. One is located about 12 miles from Disney World in Solterra Resort and the other is only 4 miles away in Windsor Hills Resort. Both have "Star Wars" theming and similar resort amenities, but come with a lower price tag and less-restrictive minimum stay requirements.
For this trip, you'll want to spend two days at Disney World checking out all of the out-of-this-world "Star Wars" and space-inspired experiences.
Two-day Park Hopper tickets start at $144 per day, for a total starting price of $287.33 for adults and $277.59 for kids ages 3 to 9. With the Genie+ and Memory Maker add-ons (so you can skip the lines and download all your vacation photos), your total for tickets will come to just over $1,500 for dates in September. If you don't want to park-hop each day, you could shave some off the cost.
You can also typically save a few extra dollars by booking through discount ticket sites like Get Away Today and Undercover Tourist. The savings are minimal, but enough to cover the price of a few Ronto Wraps at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
As soon as you purchase your tickets, you'll need to make Park Pass reservations for the parks you wish to visit during your trip. For this itinerary, you'll want one day at Hollywood Studios and one at Epcot. We'll break down why in a moment.
The food on board the Starcruiser is plentiful and diverse (blue shrimp, anyone?) and all of it is included in the cost of your stay (excluding alcoholic beverages). We tried our best to include the shining stars of "space food" inside the parks to best mimic what you'd find on the Starcruiser.
This includes space-age drinks and off-planet delicacies at Galaxy's Edge and lunch at Epcot's Space 220 which, like the Starcruiser, has a lovely view out into space. To keep costs down, we'll assume you purchase $100 worth of groceries for easy breakfasts in your vacation rental before heading to the parks each day.
It's unlikely you'll be able to get into Oga's Cantina in Galaxy's Edge or Space 220 without a reservation, so you will want to make reservations for both as soon as your booking window opens.
Currently, that is 60 days out from your visit beginning at 5:45 a.m. ET. If you don't get the day or time you are looking for right away, keep checking in the days leading up to your trip. People often make changes or cancellations that could open up the reservation you need.
Disney planning site WDW Prep School developed an easy method for estimating your average Disney World food costs. Assuming two snacks, one quick-service and one table-service meal each day, you are looking at a total of $291 for three days. When you tack on a 20% gratuity, you come out with a grand total of $349.20.
This is the fun part! We've already calculated most of the costs, so now you just get to plan your perfect "Star Wars" getaway. Were you to take a voyage on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, you'd spend your days meeting characters, going on secret missions and being regaled by some of the finest entertainers in the galaxy.
You can enjoy similar adventures inside Disney World's theme parks and at Disney Springs, while leaving enough time to enjoy the amenities at your resort. Fire up your engines with this three-day sample itinerary:
Day 1: Hollywood Studios
You're here for "Star Wars" and we are going to give you "Star Wars." Your first day will be spent at Hollywood Studios in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, a land so immersive guests have been known to tear up when they first lay eyes on it.
There are two rides in the land – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Guests on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcrusier get the opportunity to experience both of these during an excursion on the second day of their journey and you can do the same.
Skip-the-line access to fly the Millennium Falcon is included with Genie+, but hyper-driving to the front of the line on Rise of the Resistance requires a separate purchase. Pricing varies by day, but usually runs about $15 per person. That'll add $60 to your grand total for the family, but you also have the option to wait in the standby line for no additional charge.
Between rides, you'll want to fuel up.
On the Galactic Starcruiser, you can sample Bantha Beef Tenderloin and Tip Yip Chicken (don't worry, it's the same beef and chicken we eat here on Earth) and you can find similar delicacies at Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo in Galaxy's Edge. For lunch or dinner, Docking Bay 7 serves a Batuuan Beef Stir Fry and two versions of Tip Yip Chicken (one deliciously spicy, the other milder).
The same way beer and cocktails flow endlessly at most all-inclusive resorts, you can find complimentary blue and green milks on tap on the Galactic Starcruiser. These tropical "Star Wars" beverages are also available at the Milk Stand in Galaxy's Edge. You'll have to pay by the glass on Batuu, but you can have that same experience.
If you were able to secure a reservation for Oga's Cantina, make a note of your reservation time so you don't miss it. Kids will love the popping pearls in the Carbon Freeze and our favorite adult drink is the Fuzzy Tauntaun. Just be aware the foam on top of the drink may make your mouth a bit tingly, in a fun way.
The rest of your time in Galaxy's Edge can be spent exploring the land and meeting the "locals." The Galactic Starcruiser experience hinges on how much you participate in the role-playing aspect and, while you won't have the time to get as deep into the storyline, you can also get into character at Galaxy's Edge.
If you see Rey, Chewbacca or other costumed characters like Vi Moradi around the land, chat them up and see if there are any openings in the Rebellion. Or, if the dark side of the Force is more your style, hit up Kylo Ren or his stormtroopers to see how you can sabotage the good guys. They'll usually engage in a bit of banter with you and pose for a photo before resuming their post protecting (or attempting to bring down) the galaxy.
Before your visit, download the Play Disney Parks app so you can access the Datapad function. This essentially transforms your phone into a Datapad capable of interacting with droids in the land, decrypting transmissions and scanning cargo crates to collect digital rewards. These "missions" add another layer of immersion and let you become a character in the world of "Star Wars," just like if you had been on the Galactic Starcruiser.
While not on Batuu, don't leave Hollywood Studios without stopping by Star Tours (near the Grand Avenue entrance to Galaxy's Edge), Disney's original "Star Wars" attraction. It's not as smooth or advanced as the newer attractions in Galaxy's Edge, but it's a classic and still tons of fun.
Even better, the line is usually much shorter than the ones you'll find in Galaxy's Edge.
On the Galactic Starcruiser, you can test your lightsaber skills in a simulated training experience. While there is no such alternative in Hollywood Studios, you can build your own lightsaber for much less than you'd think.
When you exit through the Star Tours gift shop, Tatooine Traders, there is an area where the kids can build their own custom lightsabers. There are a variety of blade colors to choose from so they can even make a dual-blade lightsaber a la Darth Maul. Single-blade sabers are $30 plus tax and dual-blade sabers are $45 plus tax.
We'll go with the higher number for our estimate – about $96 for two lightsabers.
This is much less than the lightsaber construction you can do inside Galaxy's Edge, which will set you back about $200 per saber, though it is an immersive experience just about to the same level as on the Starcruiser ... albeit for a few minutes instead of a couple of days.
Day 2: Disney Springs and resort
There's no point in booking a "Star Wars" vacation rental if you aren't going to spend any time there. Take it easy this morning and let the kids play in their "Star Wars" room while you recover from your first day at Disney. In the afternoon, head to the pool or water park to stay cool before visiting Disney Springs in the evening when the sun is a bit less intense.
There are plenty of quick-service dinner options at Disney Springs, though nothing space-themed, unfortunately. There are, however, two "Star Wars" stores where you can shop (or window shop) for costumes and souvenirs.
The Star Wars Galactic Outpost is located in Disney Springs' West Side near the AMC Theatres, and the Star Wars Trading Post is located in the Disney Springs Marketplace near Rainforest Cafe.
Don't stay out too late because you've got one more big Disney day ahead of you.
Day 3: Epcot and Hollywood Studios
This may surprise you, but your final day at Disney is going to start at Epcot. No, you won't see any stormtroopers roaming around, but this park has not one, not two, but three opportunities to visit outer space.
Use Genie+ to book a Lightning Lane reservation for Epcot's space flight simulator attraction, Mission: Space. This attraction has two missions to choose from – the Orange Mission (44-inch minimum height requirement) is more intense (and not great for those who suffer from motion sickness) and the Green Mission is more family-friendly.
As you exit the attraction (or even if you bypass the ride altogether), you'll pass through the Advanced Training Lab, an interactive play area with a space-themed playground and video games. Kids will have a "blast" playing astronaut and parents will enjoy the blast of cool air in this indoor play space.
Just next door to Mission: Space, you can dine 220 miles up in the sky at Space 220. Hopefully, you were able to get a reservation for lunch because the views and the food are amazing. To get there, you'll travel upward in a space elevator until you reach the space station, quite similarly to how you board the Starcruiser. Reservations are also available for the restaurant's prix fixe menu or the lounge, where you can order drinks and small bites.
The food doesn't always follow through with the space theming quite as closely as what you'd find on the Galactic Starcruiser (or in Galaxy's Edge, for that matter), but, let's face it, the main reason to visit Space 220 is for the views.
And while not all the menu items are otherworldly, there are some really fun space drinks with pop rocks and disappearing "cloud" cotton candy that aren't all that different than what you'll find on the Starcruiser.
Last but not least, there's no better way to end a Disney "Star Wars" vacation than with a nighttime visit to Galaxy's Edge.
If you missed it in the evening the first day, park-hop on over to Hollywood Studios via the Skyliner for one last trip to a galaxy far, far away. It tends to be less crowded at night, giving you a better opportunity to notice the differences that can only be experienced at night. This is an experience you won't get while on the Starcruiser.
Colorful lights enhance the ships and scenic rock work, alien insects chirp quietly and you can hear spaceships zoom by overhead. If your kids built their own lightsabers, bring them along so you can see how they glow at night.
Because of the lower evening crowds, there's a decent chance you can re-ride one or both "Star Wars" attractions, as well, before heading back to Earth (and real life).
Let's take a look at the numbers and see how much money we were able to save on this longer "Star Wars"-themed vacation versus booking a stay on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
- Accommodations: $1,748.
- Tickets: $1,500.
- Individual Lightning Lane: $60.
- Groceries: $100.
- Dining: $349.20.
- Souvenirs: $96.
Grand total: $3,853.20.
That's still a lot, but much less than the two-night trip on the Starcruiser that costs just under $7,000 — before drinks.
There is nothing in our galaxy or a galaxy far, far away that can fully replicate the experience of being on board the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. It's in a class all its own, but that class may be one that's outside of your vacation budget.
Luckily, Disney has "Star Wars" experiences for all travelers, no matter their budget or what planet they hail from. So whether you follow this plan or chart your own course, there are plenty of ways to reach a galaxy that's not all that far away.