Tuesday, March 1, 2022

We Toured Disney's New Galactic Starcruiser With The Cast & Crew. Come See!

My NDA lifts today, bots and babes, and while I'm the last in line of media coverage to hit the internet (all other press was allowed to post 2/25), I'm grateful for the extra time to collect my thoughts, ride out the emotional high, and sort through my hundreds of photos and dozens of videos. I've also been watching the flood of media coverage - largely negative, but not entirely. So that's all in my head today.

So what am I talking about? WELL. Let me tell you.

Last week John and I received a last-minute invitation to the exclusive entertainment cast preview onboard the new Star Wars' Starcruiser Halcyon. (!!) This was not a media event. This was not a guest event. This was only for the Halcyon entertainment cast & crew - just over a hundred individuals - who each were allowed 2 guests for a 4-hour tour. Most brought their spouses and family, others their closest friends. Needless to say this was an incredible honor, and legitimately a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm still reeling. More on that to come.

Because this was not a press event, I'm going to tread carefully with this post. John and I saw things not meant for the public, and besides our CM friend who invited us, we also knew a lot of people there and chatted with many of the off-duty cast. We got a lot of background info and even a few insider scoops, which was just, super awesome. I'm going to respect the performers and the Disney magic, though, by not revealing any cast member names. You also won't find any sneaky backstage photos or anything unbecoming to the show here. You will, however, find lots and LOTS of spoilers. I'm about to tell all, so if you want to be surprised during your own Halcyon stay, turn back now.

This preview was so the cast could perform for their loved ones and show what they've been working on all this time, and you could feel it. The energy, the affection. Every person working that night was working for someone they loved, and every person in the crowd was personally rooting for someone on stage or behind the scenes. It felt like a giant family reunion... combined with a school play... except on a Disney level. ::silent happy flailing::

To give the full cast a chance to perform, I noticed the on-stage characters switched out through the night. They would never do this for press or guests, because it could be confusing to see two different cruise directors, captains, etc.

Gaya's manager, Raithe, looks a LOT like Joe Rhode. Back me up on this, Dizgeeks.

So with all that said, obviously this isn't going to be a typical media review. In fact it won't be a review at all, but more of a "come with me while we see and do SUPER COOL STUFF on one of the most amazing nights of my life."


Sweet. C'mon, we're running through this lightsaber arch:


There was a pretty sedate crowd of folks just walking through when I got there. I saw the clear path, yelled out, "Can I film you??" and got a chorus of "yes"es. Then I held my phone up and jogged through, shrieking at the top of my lungs. They all laughed and cheered me on. (You'll get that wildly swaying video later - so pop a Dramamine now. ;))

Each party of 2 was allowed one "designated photographer." That meant I got a special wrist band and signed an NDA before entry, while John's phone lens was securely covered with a wrap-around sticker.

With that sorted, we turned down an unexpectedly narrow hallway:

Which leads to two of these doors:

You'll see the interior animations later in my video, but I can tell you the "launch" experience has no discernible motion, and is mercifully short for folks like me with agoraphobia. It's also pretty cool.

The launch pods might remind you of the ocean elevators to Seabase Alpha at Epcot, if you're old enough to remember those. (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)  Especially when the doors open to this view:

It's space instead of ocean, but a similar feel - and you almost expect a diver to float down that far tube, right?

I don't want to downplay this, though, because stepping into the Halcyon atrium was on par with my first steps into Diagon Alley. I was transported, y'all. A wave of wonder and emotion hit me, and I had to take a moment to wave back a few tears. The Halcyon is a grand reveal in every sense of the word.

I don't think I moved from my spot just a few feet into the atrium for some time. Other friends sent me this photo of John waiting patiently while I documented every square inch:

Hey, I knew this was my only chance. I promise I didn't take a second of this night for granted.

The bridge is directly to your left upon entering the atrium:

It's very dim in there, to emphasize the amazing view. I'll have some video snippets later.

The atrium seating is a deep plush red velvet; your hand sinks into it. The upper "windows" show beautiful moving spacescapes and occasional ships passing by. The two flanking tubes have changing hologram animations used frequently throughout the experience.

Gaya is an intergalactic pop star, and she gives us a heckuva show later.

After the atrium filled with all the guests for the night, we had a few announcements from the cast director, and the show proper began. They began with everyone's favorite part of a cruise (/sarcasm), the muster drill. Standing through fake safety protocols is definitely not the most exciting way to start, but don't worry, everything quickly goes to Hoth in a hand basket.

A delightfully snooty First Order officer menaces his way in and announces he will "monitor" the rest of our voyage. This officer is one of my favorite characters of the night; hilarious, snide, and just the right amount of eeeee-ville.

If you want the whole story I recommend watching Kitra & Peter's videos at Ordinary Adventures; they have about 3 hours' of video on YouTube from their stay, plus they're awesome people you'll want to be friends with by the end.

From here we hustled down to the dining room, where we had tickets to the first seating of the mysterious "Gaya show." None of our friends would tell us what that was, so we had ZERO idea what to expect.

The Crown of Corellia Dining Room is spectacular, another big WOW moment:

The center lights give the illusion of holograms, and the room is kitted out with plenty of color-changing concert lights for the show:

You can *just* see Gaya entering on the right side here. She's a gorgeous purple Twi'lek.

We were seated allll the way in back, but this turned out great, because directly behind me were these stairs:

Gaya travels through the audience extensively, so she danced her way down these stairs 3 or 4 times during the show. She even sang right in front of me! As much as she moves around, I promise every seat is a good seat in this room.

When we first sat down I'll confess I was feeling impatient. We'd only just arrived, and I didn't want to waste a single moment when we could be off exploring the ship.

But then the music started. And Ouanni - Gaya's drummer/keyboardist - started to dance. And EEEEEE what a show! The first song, Welcome to the New World, is still stuck in my head. Gaya performed 5 or 6 songs, each different but with a funky cool beat, incredible show lighting, and beautiful choreography. I was literally on the edge of my seat the entire concert. So good. (I have video, I promise. Keep scrolling!)

For the last song Gaya had us all on our feet to do a "simple dance" - and to my horror I found EVERYONE around us already knew the steps, because of course most of them work there. Everyone was having such a great time, though, that I stopped worrying about looking silly and just soaked it in. You'll see in my video compilation, but it was pure joy, not embarrassing at all.

After sending Gaya off with tumultuous applause we were released to explore the rest of the ship. So let's gooooo!

That's Ouanni, Gaya's keyboardist, on the right, and if you're like me you'll want to pet her hair. (It looks so soft!) (But I didn't, don't worry.) Ouanni is quite friendly, speaks only in Huttese, and has impressive animation in her face, from the ears on down.

That's Sandro beside her, who is supposed to be a Togruta, like Ahsoka Tano, but his headpiece isn't in yet. Those pesky supply chain issues strike again; Disney apparently had no choice but to send Sandro out in a beanie for all of press week. That said, I don't think I'd have noticed anything amiss if other cast hadn't pointed it out.

During our 4 hour stay we got an abbreviated version of Sandro and Oanni's story arc, which has them meeting during Gaya's concert and falling for each other. They mingle freely in the atrium crowd, and it was adorable watching them together during the finale, the cutest of couples:

See what I mean about Ouanni's hair? It shifts from green to lavender to purple, and looks like the fuzziest chenille yarn. Must. not. pet.

Right, back to the rest of the ship.

The gift shop was roped off, since they didn't want to risk selling out of anything before the actual guests arrived. We could take photos from the doorway, though:

The shop only carries in-world merchandise, so no Mickey ears here. Instead you'll find Halcyon ship models, a custom ship lightsaber, various size replicas of the ship's droid, SK, Sabacc cards, and themed clothing.

We'll come back to the atrium level later, but for now let's head downstairs.

Can I say how much I love all the orange accents in the ship's design? It's most striking in the cabins, which we'll tour later.

There are several "pods" in the lower decks that contain the lightsaber training room, the climate simulator room, engineering, and the brig.

These doors are so satisfying: you push the button beside them and they whoosh open like a turbolift. SO COOL. Also shiny Star Wars makes me think of Star Trek, I can't help it.

The Climate Simulator was an unexpected surprise after all the sparse, brightly lit corridors:

This is the only room open to the elements of Florida, because it "perfectly simulates the environment on Batuu." Cute, right? It has a variety of real plant life lining the walls, and someone told me there was a wasp problem in here at one point, so maybe don't go nuzzling the plants.

The center area is for meditative rock stacking, and when we first entered there were a couple dozen people in here, stacking rocks. If you're lucky, the teacher/guide might also show you how to move a few rocks with the Force:

I just missed seeing it from my angle, but I could hear the rock moving.

The brig is a tiny room with a crawl-space access from Engineering, so that younger passengers can "free" prisoners throughout the story line. Love that.

By the end of the night we were the last few down here haunting the empty halls and rooms to get clear shots like this. We also met some new cast member friends who kindly let me run amuck, escorting me back into all the closed pods for crowd-free photos. (Excited Jen was BESIDE HERSELF, let me tell you.)

Even in the crowds I often felt like the only one taking photos/film, because again, these people weren't media. They were family and crew. Everywhere we went exploring John and I were met with easy smiles, even back stage, because everyone knew we were cleared to be there.

Random wall doodads.

I think I can share this: for the preview we didn't get any official Halcyon food. Instead Disney brought over a local BBQ food truck, which they parked outside on the curb. That meant to get dinner we had to push through an emergency exit door into a back stage area filled with on-duty cast. Talk about surreal. Then we missed dinner anyway, because we took too long exploring downstairs, ha. No regrets; Disney also supplied a few snacks in the atrium, so we subsisted on Space Doritos and trail mix.

Oh, but they did have two themed snacks: a surprisingly tasty cookie:

... and a thoroughly unappetizing looking "asteroid ball" that ended up tasting AMAZING:

Disney peeps, if any of you have a recipe for these, DO TELL. It's a soft chocolate dough-like center rolled in Rice Krispy treats. I have the ingredient list from the label, but no idea how they go together. And I want more. Nomz.

Oh wow, I just looked at how many more photos and stories I still have to share and got the panic sweats. I don't want to slash and burn this post to make it shorter, y'all; I'm having too much fun. So let's call this Part 1, and I'll cover the rest of the ship and Story next time.

Next post I'll take you through Lightsaber Training, Engineering (which is the most Star Wars-feeling area of the whole ship, IMO), the Sublight Lounge (which has my favorite photos!), both the regular ship's cabin AND the enormous suite, plus I'll show you the exciting show finale, share a few more fun stories of cast interactions, and talk about the one moment I hope I never, ever forget, because it was that special.

That's next time, so be sure to check back this Friday.

If you're impatient and want to see more of that now, though, then good news: here comes ALL of my video:

John put this together for me and I'm not about to make him go split everything up again, so you get the whole shebang. A lot of this will be jumping ahead to the show finale, so promise to act surprised when I talk about that next time, k? ;)

 'Til then, good journey, and may the Force be with you.



P.S. The Halcyon's official maiden voyage is today, so shout-out to the first "real" passengers boarding this afternoon! Lean in to the chaos while you're there, my friends, and soak up every second.


P.P.S. Before I go, my February Squeegineer winners are Elsie S., Shelly L., & Rebecca She. Congrats, you three, and please check your inboxes for a message from John, so you can choose your prizes!

New on the prize board this month are these Haunted Mansion bat necklaces I made - and then lost - several years ago:

I was cleaning out the back of my office closet and found an entire box of these that had fallen behind the printer shelf, ha. Who wants 'em?

You can enter my monthly give-away by sharing any of my posts on social media and e-mailing me about it - details here. Or, if you want to go the extra parsec, you can donate any amount to Epbot via Paypal and be entered automatically. Either way helps support this site and allows me to pour my time and heart into this community, so THANK YOU.


  1. Is it just me, or does the whole starcruiser have a really strong Enterprise/ST:TNG feel to it's design?

    1. I agree. The pics of the store confused me since I was looking for Red Shirts and Phasers. Lol.

    2. Same, lol, I'm glad I wasn't the only one!

    3. Plus the silver mannequins in the gift shop are dead ringers for Ferengi - that doesn't help, bahaha.

  2. I am SO excited for you that you got to go, and that we get to experience it all through you. I'm holding off watching the video until all your posts are up, but what I've seen so far is awesome.

  3. We LOVE Kitra and Peter and have already watched all of their videos. My husband and I have been trying to place Raithe since the first video and you may have identified who we both thought he looked like--Joe Rohde! He wondered if it was someone we encountered at Galaxy's Edge this summer (I checked my Savi's pics and that wasn't it...), but that may be it!

  4. Oh my goodness that is SO COOL!!! Thank you for sharing all the gorgeousness with us! :D

  5. Thanks for the tour and NOT giving away the magic.

  6. I'm so excited to hear about your visit and looking forward to the next post. So cool you got to see some of the behind the scenes stuff.

  7. I'm so fascinated with how the operations work on this! Like, how many performers are there for each roles, and how many runs do they have each week?

    1. I believe there are 2 main performers for each on-stage role who switch off, though I imagine there must be understudies, too, for emergencies.

      My CM friends tell me the ship only gets a single 3-hour block between guests to reset, so they must run continuously in those 48-hour stays, no days off. Which would work out to, what, about 3.5 runs a week? ;)

  8. Maybe I'll start playing the lottery because that's the only way I'll ever be able to go. I knew it was going to be expensive, I just didn't expect it to be quite SO expensive...

    I'm looking forward to seeing all the reviews, especially Serena from LivingByDisney, because she specifically didn't go as a media guest so she'll feel freer to be honest about her experience.

    1. Same here, I love Serena! She's my favorite Disney blogger/Instagrammer, I recommend her to everyone who asks for the best advice & opinions on the parks.

  9. Awesome pix and video, thank you! WOW, the fight choreography! And yes, Gaya's manager there looks like John Rohde.

    1. I mean Joe. Sorry, it's late. I do know who I'm talking about, I swear, don't take my Dizgeek cred away...

  10. Man, I'm so excited for this and sad that it's not likely to happen! Just have to live vicariously through some videos and pics!

  11. I can see why you were so excited! I agree with one of commenter's above, it does give off some Star Trek vibes. And a bit of Phantom of the Opera after watching the video.

  12. This is fantabulous! Thanks for taking so many detailed shots so we can tour it with you. <3


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