Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – The Continuity Conundrum
Note: This post contains spoilers for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience.
As discussed in a previous post, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser offers an immersive, interactive, individualized experience unlike anything available elsewhere. On the Halcyon, passengers really do get to live their own Star Wars adventures, fulfilling the highest aspirations of Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm in their collaboration.
And yet, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser comes with an important caveat. You can live your own Star Wars adventure – as long as it’s set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker on the in-universe timeline.
Aboard the Halcyon, you can’t have an adventure with Luke, Leia, and Han from the Original Trilogy, nor Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan from the Prequel Trilogy. Excited by the thrilling episodes of The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett? You can’t interact with Din Djarin, Grogu, Boba Fett, or Fennec Shand on the Galactic Starcruiser. In the months ahead, your adventure can’t connect to Cassian’s covert operations in Andor or Tano’s quest in Ahsoka. For some prospective customers, that may be a dealbreaker. And some who’ve already booked reservations for the voyage may not realize its tightly constrained in-universe continuity until they’re already aboard, and find it disappointing.
Interestingly, the timeline placement of the voyage is irrelevant to much of the overall experience. Almost nothing about the Halcyon or its crew is inherently tied to the Sequel Trilogy era. The Batuu excursion connects with the two theme park rides, Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, set in the Sequel Trilogy era, but onboard the Starcruiser itself most of the dining, scheduled events, spontaneous interactions, and character personalities are functionally timeline agnostic. The appearances by movie characters are only cameos, and for all intents and purposes the Halcyon adventure is undertaken with new characters created for the Galactic Starcruiser experience.
The most obvious dilemma also has the most contrived solution. It wouldn’t be a Star Wars adventure without lightsabers, and the Galactic Starcruiser experience made sure to include a lightsaber training session for every passenger 7 & over – finally giving adults a chance to participate in an activity akin to the Jedi Training Academy for children that operated at Disneyland and Hollywood Studios for many years (though not since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic). But between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, no Jedi Order exists to sponsor any such training room on a starliner. To solve this problem, the Galactic Starcruiser invents a new Force sect – the Saja – similar to the Guardians of the Whills from Rogue One. The Saja are not themselves Jedi, but they can feel the Force and honor the teachings and legacy of the Jedi. It is a Saja who leads the lightsaber training sessions, and who teaches a Force mantra that pays off later in the adventure. None of that would be necessary, though, except for the timeline placement of the voyage and the decision to adhere to strict in-universe continuity for the Halcyon voyage. Furthermore, the conundrum faced by the designers of the Galactic Starcruiser highlights the short-sightedness of the Sequel Trilogy’s storytelling choices that undercut the potential for the entire Star Wars franchise, in a prominent segment of its continuity, to use Jedi across story, parks, and merchandise.
In the brief showdown on the Halcyon between Rey and Kylo Ren, the timeline placement between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker is maintained: they are combative adversaries, each feeling the sting of the respectively perceived betrayals at the end of The Last Jedi. Kylo still believes she is foolish not to abandon the past and join him in ruling the galaxy; Rey still believes that the Jedi way and the Resistance cause of freedom is worth fighting for. Kylo remarks that Rey has been training more with the Force, and Rey replies “Yes” – yet oddly, she does not add “with your mother” even though that taunt presumably would have staggered him. (One also wonders whether Kylo is aware that his parents honeymooned on the very ship he is now menacing.) Like Kijimi and Kef Bir to come, their lightsaber duel is personal and vicious. At one point, Kylo shoves Rey face-first into a metal pole, enhanced by a sound-effect clang, with such violence that it elicited loud gasps from many of the onlooking passengers. Presumably inadvertently, this moment in particular also further reinforces the dissonance between the first ninety minutes and last hour of The Rise of Skywalker.
Other than these few relatively minor details in the story of the voyage, however, the Resistance and First Order could be swapped for the Rebellion and Empire – or the New Republic and Imperial remnant forces of The Mandalorian era – with only the most superficial of changes in dialogue and costumes. (The shift to the Prequel and Clone Wars era admittedly would be more challenging, as the Republic’s white-armored troopers are the good guys and the battle droids of the Separatist army aren’t easily portrayed by humans in costumes.) It might feel a bit unusual for the Batuu excursion to exist at a different point in the timeline than the Halcyon voyage, but it’s unclear how many customers would be bothered by a lack of adherence to a strict single continuity within the multi-day Galactic Starcruiser experience.
The Star Wars franchise has grown to encompass multiple generations of fans with different entry points – and favorite stories – and a corresponding opportunity to appeal to each of them. In the short term, many Star Wars and Disney Parks fans have not yet been able to visit the Sequel Trilogy era version of Black Spire Outpost, which had been open less than a year in California and six months in Florida before the pandemic closures. Likewise, the Galactic Starcruiser is unlikely to quickly exhaust the initial demand irrespective of timeline placement preferences. Many fans are excited about new Star Wars content regardless, and it will take time and data-gathering to determine how much untapped potential revenue is foregone by fixing Star Wars in the Disney Parks to one in-universe moment. Ultimately, the decision to situate Galaxy’s Edge solely within the Sequel Trilogy continuity – as opposed to the more fluid option of Avenger’s Campus – linked the long-term potential of the parks, and related ventures like Galactic Starcruiser, to the reception of those stories with the fandom and the broader Star Wars audience. It will be interesting to observe whether, in the years ahead, Black Spire Outpost and the Galactic Starcruiser experience are modified to offer different timeline options to optimize their appeal for customer expenditures.
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