At a climactic point in the interactive narrative that unfolds onboard the Halcyon — the hotel-cum-spaceship that is home to Disney World’s incredibly expensive, soon-to-open two-day theme park/Live Action Role Play Star Wars experience — an invasion of First Order stormtroopers overtakes the ship, adorning it with blood red banners featuring their hexagonal insignia. It’s a moment that is supposed to strike fear (you know, pretend fear) into the hearts of the paying customers play-acting as part of the Resistance, but it didn’t do much for me, because I never found the First Order the least bit scary.
Perhaps that’s unfair to Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma, and co., but I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy. The new, slightly off-model fascist galactic government is never going to hit me in the same way. The Death Star will always be scarier than Starkiller Base, and Darth Vader a more potent menace than his poofy-haired grandson.
But the thing is, Disney doesn’t really care about how I feel about Episodes IV-VI, because those movies are old and harder to monetise with new merchandise, spin-off storylines, and, yes, theme park attractions. And as far as the narrative of the Galactic Starcruiser goes, the OT may as well be ancient history.
Not Quite As Long Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Like the Galaxy’s Edge theme park, which opened in 2019, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort, the story that occurs during a stay on the Galactic Starcruiser is deeply intertwined with the plot of the sequel trilogy. The primary heroes are members of the Resistance, and the baddies are from the First Order. Though Chewbacca, Yoda, C-3PO, and R2-D2 make cursory appearances (Chewie runs around the ship a bit; the latter trio pop up as holograms or on a viewscreen), they aren’t really active participants in the plot.
The expanded canon has made a point of noting that Han Solo and General Leia Organa had their honeymoon onboard the Halcyon, but you’d have to pry that information out of one of the costumed cast members if you wanted to learn more about it — and the same goes for news of Master Luke and Darth Vader. Because the timeline places the adventure in between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, you won’t even hear anything about the Emperor — Kylo Ren is apparently still the Supreme Leader, so this must all be unfolding before, somehow, Palpatine returned.
A Prequel and a Sequel to Galaxy’s Edge
If you visit Galaxy’s Edge and ride its two primary attractions — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance — you’ll get a sliver of story about a mission to steal some “coaxium,” a powerful fuel source (hope you saw Solo), as well as Rey’s efforts to protect the location of the Resistance base.
Despite opening some three years later, the Galactic Starcruiser storyline intertwines intimately with those events, serving as both prequel and sequel. Your first day onboard the ship, you can take part in missions that will prepare you for the coaxium heist (or, if you take the path of the First Order, attempt to thwart it). The second day, which includes a visit to Galaxy’s Edge, hinges on what happens to that coaxium after it is delivered to the Halcyon.
It’s a clever bit of retroactive continuity that seres as an excellent example of Disney’s approach to the franchise. Rather than the grand, semi-improvised vision of George Lucas, the official Star Wars canon is now a machine built up of countless narrative elements that can each be unplugged and expanded upon as the need arises, with every new TV show, film, or ride providing fresh components to construct an even bigger (if not more satisfying) story.
For Better or Worse, the Disney Canon Is the Future of Star Wars
That’s all perfectly understandable from a business sense. It definitely benefits Disney to keep the franchise moving forward; even if we don’t have to kill it, dwelling on the past naturally limits the potential future audience for the saga. As much as I love the OT, those films are 40 years old or more, and not nearly as slick or accessible to the next generation of pint-sized Padawans (trying to watch A New Hope with a five-year-old in 2022 will force you to take note of how differently movies are paced these days).
But when it comes to the Galactic Starcruiser, it’s not those younger fans who will be shelling out as much as $US6,000 ($8,329) to spend two days in space. Not every veteran fan is as indifferent to the new characters as I am (though I do love Kylo Ren, who was the most psychologically interesting of all Star Wars baddies until Rise of Skywalker ruined him), but even those who have taken their first steps into the larger expanded universe would likely appreciate more overt attention paid to what came before.