Star Wars is quickly showing potential to be the most popular franchise that Disney offers. The early feedback after the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland has been incredibly positive. We only have the Millennium Falcon to ride so far, and only in California. But, Star Wars fever is rising! The second ride, Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance isn’t open yet, but should be later this year.
Now that the Star Wars land has opened in Disneyland, attention is shifting toward a late summer opening of a similar land at Disney World. At least as exciting as the debut of Galaxy’s Edge is the high-end, immersive Star Wars-themed hotel that is under construction at Disney World. (Sorry, Disneyland.) The themed hotel will open this year and when it does, it will look like nothing we have seen before.
Other than a few concept drawings and carefully worded brief remarks released from Disney, we haven’t had much in the way of official information. That’s standard operating procedure for Disney — a company that loves the big reveal.
Construction is under way in a major way though. Disney World super sleuth bioreconstruct has overhead images of the hotel construction (the walls in the dirt patch on the right of these images).
Disney World also has to dabble in the “real world,” and due to construction permitting requirements, we have some intel on the Star Wars-themed hotel project.
There are multiple documents that have been filed. If you really want to nerd out, we’ve included links to download some of the more relevant PDFs below:
- DW-DISNEY-Drawings_108219_11092018 (this one has all the meat and potatoes)
- PW-WDW PROJECT H Drawings-HS SENT (with a bit more good stuff here)
- DW-DISNEY-62-604.300(8)(a)_108219_11092018 (only for the true nerds among us)
- DW-DISNEY-Engineer Permit Application Submittal
Based on the filed documents with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, as well as some official Disney releases, here are three things we now know about the Star Wars hotel and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
1. Location of Disney’s Star Wars Hotel
The location of the Star Wars resort is just south of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but it will not be connected directly to the park.
Disney’s announcements have said the hotel would offer a “seamless connection” to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. Some, myself included, initially thought that meant the hotel would be directly and literally connected. However, we can tell from the construction images that won’t be the case.
The plans for the hotel clearly show shuttle buses, or perhaps “transports,” since this is Star Wars after all. There are rumors that Disney will employ technology to turn the windows of the hotel and transports into fully immersive views of the land. (If you’ve sailed aboard a cruise ship with “virtual” portholes that show real-time images from a camera at the ship’s bridge, you know what we mean.)
2. Layout of Disney’s Star Wars Hotel
California Coaster Kings did a great job stitching together some of the plan images, along with adding a bit of color for perspective. Here’s what we believe the layout of the Star Wars Hotel will look like:
There’s virtually no parking shown on the plans, which means there’s likely to be valet parking. Guests would appear to pull up to the front of the hotel and have a dedicated entryway for check-in and screening. The diagrams reference a luggage screening and metal detector area as soon as guests enter, which could mean you don’t have to be screened again when entering the parks (which would be great).
The plans show us that the first floor of the hotel contains 34 “cabins” or guest rooms. Thirty-two of these appear to be standard rooms, while two are labeled “First Class Cabin” and appear to be approximately double the size of a standard cabin.
Ready to nerd out, “blueprint-style”? Since this is just a submittal for wastewater plans, the pages revealed don’t have full room details. However, we can tell by the line drawings that the intent appears for the cabin to have sliding doors, and potentially sizable at that. Normal “swing” doors are called out for linen rooms and engineering closets. The cabins show one thin line at the entrance to each room, covering almost the entire width of the room. A sliding door would make sense with the futuristic theme of the Star Wars movies.
Additionally, with one exception (which could simply be an error or omission in these plans), none of the hotel rooms on the first floor are connecting. The lack of connecting rooms would represent a challenge for larger families.
3. Disney’s Star Wars Hotel Is Small
There’s been some chatter around the internet that the Star Wars Hotel is only two stories tall. Some folks have hypothesized that could mean only 68 total rooms with 34 displayed on the first level. Let’s pause for a minute to digest just how small that would be. Disney’s Caribbean Beach has around 2,000 rooms, and even the more compact deluxe hotels, such as Disney’s Contemporary Resort, still ring in at over 600 rooms. And, just for clarity, even at those larger sizes, the resorts sell out — regularly.
There are a few details in the plans that would seem to indicate that the hotel is at least a bit larger than 68 rooms, though not much larger. Make no mistake, this will be a boutique hotel (or large attraction?).
We don’t have “elevations,” a diagram that would definitively show how large upper floor(s) of the hotel would be. But, there are some breadcrumbs that help us define the size. The hotel has five elevators. Two of those definitely appear to be for guests to use to get to and from upper floors, with a third potentially available for the same purpose. Based on the placement of a few of the elevators, it seems reasonable to believe the second floor houses more cabins than the first, likely covering the restaurant and other back-of-house spaces.
However, a key detail that is found not in the drawings, but in the application, likely reveals how many guest rooms the hotel expects to have, give or take a few. The term “key” is generally used in the hotel industry to detail how many rooms you plan to construct. For example, the new Super Duper Inn will be five stories tall with 400 keys. Or, the new Super Duper Inn will cost $100,000 per key to construct. In the application, there’s a calculation for maximum water flow. I know, I know. We’re nerding out, but stick with me. See the image below:
The notes at the bottom say “100 keys x 230 gpd/key. If we translate that into English, the assumption is that each guest room will be responsible for about 230 gallons of water per day. That includes showers, toilet flushes, sink use and likely a calculation for food prep, etc. since most guests will dine at the hotel. If the first floor is 34 rooms, then the second floor is likely 66. This is a really small property. For perspective, your typical roadside Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express is probably 80–100 rooms.
A hotel that small would be a major departure from Disney World’s previous ventures. There are some smaller buildings, like the 136 units at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. However, Boulder Ridge is virtually connected to Wilderness Lodge, which has over 700 rooms. With wetlands surrounding the Star Wars Hotel, this will be the (by far) smallest free-standing guest housing complex on the grounds of Disney World.
The hotel features one table service restaurant on the plans, with a buffet line near the back, a larger open space and booths for four to six people around the perimeter.
Outside the restaurant, we find some themed spaces labeled Brig, Dojo and Transport Hall. We see a shuttle bus area that seems to be covered and/or connected to the hotel, most likely to simulate the “pods.” That’s all consistent with the theatrics expected for the immersive experience
We’re really getting to the nitty-gritty and making some guestimations based on partial diagrams of the Star Wars resort hotel. But — I think it’s safe to say, based on the information we know, that a stay at Disney’s Star Wars Hotel is going to cost quite a bit of cash thanks to simple supply and demand Disney economics. Standard Disney deluxe resort rooms at other properties sell out at $600+ per night, so imagine what this immersive experience might cost.
Star Wars is very popular with adults, so this hotel could see plenty of single or double-occupancy rooms, as opposed to every room having two adults and two children. If we use 2.5 people per room as a reasonable average, that means with 100 rooms roughly 250 people a day could get to experience the Star Wars Hotel. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently the smallest of the Disney World theme parks in terms of attendance, and it still saw more than 10 million guests last year. If we factor 250 guests a day, that comes to a little under 100,000 guests per year … if new guests were allowed every night, which doesn’t seem likely given the “multiday experience” description Disney has given. If our inferences are on track, that translates to well under 1% of current Hollywood Studios visitors getting a shot at this overnight experience each year.
Disney’s Star Wars Hotel is going to be a very small, immersive (and likely, very cool) experience. Spectators without a reservation may not even be able to visit the hotel and rates seem destined for the stratosphere. What does all that point to? In the Disney World universe, a potentially out-of-this-world experience for an out-of-this-world price.
If a 2019 trip to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is in your future:
- First Look Inside Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- Was The Force With Disney for Opening Day of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
- The Essential Guide To Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland
- Best (and Worst) Food and Drinks at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- TPG Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World
- Save Money at Disney: Rent Disney Vacation Club Points
- The Best Points Hotels Near Disney World
- Best $69 You Can Spend at Disney World
- Best Restaurants at Walt Disney World
- Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort
- Review of Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Is Disney Club Level Worth It?
- Disneyland: Staying On or Off Property?
Featured image courtesy of Disney