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How Disney’s Star Wars hotel fits into the canon of a galaxy far, far away

The ship has a 275-year history that links The Last Jedi, Galaxy’s Edge, and the High Republic

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A purple Twi’lek croons over a hasty meal aboard the Halcyon.
Superstar entertainer Gaya performs for the press during a preview of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Disney World Resorts’ Star Wars hotel experience, called Galactic Starcruiser, officially opened its doors on March 1. Guests are booked for a two-night stay where they participate in a novel live theater performance that lets them choose to support either the First Order or the Resistance. According to Lucasfilm, that story itself is canon — an interstitial part of the sequel trilogy — and the overall Star Wars storyline.

Like Disneyland’s Star Wars area, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Galactic Starcruiser has its own story beats, ones that repeat Groundhog Day-style every time a new group of guests come aboard. According to Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin, senior creative executive for franchise story and content, that has allowed his team to fill in several gaps in the larger timeline — and even extend it into new areas, like novels.

The majority of that lore applies to events that take place on the planet Batuu, the setting for Galaxy’s Edge. That makes the Starcruiser a key that unlocks even more narrative content inside the theme park.

“Since we were working on Galaxy’s Edge and Starcruiser around the same time,” Martins told Polygon, “we were able to plant story threads in Galaxy’s Edge that can pay off [on the Starcruiser]. So as a passenger, you will take your transport to go to Batuu, and even if you’ve been to Batuu before, it really recontextualizes a lot of the things.”

[Ed. note: What follows will spoil key narrative events that take place at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.]

For instance, one of the highlights of a trip to Batuu is meeting Chewbacca, who roams around the park interacting with guests and generally keeping a low profile. In the canonical fiction, he’s there to meet with Vi Moradi, princess Leia Organa’s top spy, who’s working on finding a new base of operations for the Resistance. As it turns out, the reason Chewbacca is on Batuu in the first place is because the guests on board the Starcruiser — with the help of its captain, Riyola Keevan — answer a distress call and rescue him from inside an escape pod.

Chewbacca skulks around the engine room of the Halcyon. Photo: Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

Some of the props and setpiece rides at Galaxy’s Edge get additional context as well. Recall that the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride, which lets guests take the helm of Han Solo’s pride and joy, asks you to steal some potent coaxium fuel from the First Order. At least some of that fuel makes its way back on board the Starcruiser to Gaya, the Twi’lek entertainer holding court there. The TIE Echelon parked in the First Order area of Galaxy’s Edge also makes a cameo during the Starcruiser’s storyline. Guests will help commandeer the ship, which contains miniaturized hyperspace tracking technology of a type featured in The Last Jedi, and help smuggle it to agents of the Resistance.

Purple lights reflect from a TIE Echelon during a special press preview of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land in 2019. Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

Galactic Starcruiser also contains a throughline that directly connects two of the sequel movies.

When Luke Skywalker burns down the Jedi tree at the end of The Last Jedi, he thinks he’s destroying all that remains of the written history of the Jedi order. But in the final moments of that film, we see that Rey has smuggled at least some of that material on board the Falcon. One piece of that collection was missing, however: Yoda’s own holocron, a high-tech archive of his teachings. That object somehow makes it on board the Starcruiser, where guests will open it with Rey’s help, then eventually smuggle it off the ship and into the waiting hands of the Resistance.

But Disney and Lucasfilm didn’t stop there. They made the ship itself, the Halcyon, 275 years old. That means it dates all the way back to the High Republic, placing it squarely in the middle of Lucasfilm’s latest narrative push. The ship itself is a kind of bridge, connecting Star Wars’ history back in time through novels, comics, and more. Guests can learn about that history by interrogating a droid named D3-09. She appears on screen as an Alexa-like artificial intelligence embedded inside each stateroom.

A black panel that looks ripped from the Death Star hallways. On board the Halcyon, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Climate controls and an in-room telephone flank a small screen inside each stateroom. That’s where guests can interact with D3-09, querying her about the history of the ship.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

“She’s been there this whole time,” Martins said. “So [the Halcyon] has a storied past, and we needed on the story side to develop that past. And because it’s Star Wars, we actually have a medium to tell some of those stories as well. So we were able to get it into books and comics and do an entire comic series based around the Halcyon, which is just a nice byproduct of working on Star Wars.”

Finally, it was announced last month that the Halcyon also plays a role in connecting the original trilogy to the sequel trilogy. Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel, a new novel by Beth Revis, will tell the story of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa’s honeymoon on board the ship.

“Facing their most desperate hour,” reads the official description at Penguin Random House, “the soldiers of the Empire have dispersed across the galaxy, retrenching on isolated worlds vulnerable to their influence. As the Halcyon travels from world to world, one thing becomes abundantly clear: The war is not over. But as danger draws closer, Han and Leia find that they fight their best battles not alone but as husband and wife.”

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel is available for pre-order and will be published on Aug. 16. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is booking now, with trips starting at roughly $5,000 for a family of four. You can read more in our review.

Polygon’s preview trip and accommodations were paid for by Walt Disney World, but this did not influence our editorial content. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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