Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – Interview with Walt Disney Imagineering

After disembarking from the media preview voyage on February 23, FANgirl Blog had the opportunity to interview several of the project leaders behind its creation. In addition to Lucasfilm’s Doug Chiang, we spoke with Walt Disney Imagineering’s Ann Morrow Johnson, who served as Executive Producer and Creative Director for the development of the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience.

“You went on a journey in a galaxy far, far away. It’s not a hotel, it’s not a cruise ship, it’s an adventure – and you lived it.”

The Halcyon jumps to hyperspace.

One of the aspects of the experience we were eager to ask about is the complexity of the choose-your-own-adventure structure of the voyage’s narrative. Passengers can interact with the adventure in numerous ways, including the Datapad, scheduled character interactions, and spontaneous encounters on the ship. In addition, Comms conversations on the Datapad often prompt you with several possible alternative responses, each of which leads to a different permutation of the ongoing interaction. Surely the Imagineers must have a giant flowchart of how all these elements interrelate over the span of the voyage?

“There definitely a lot of different ways you can play and engage. Depending on how you choose to play, you will wind up in some very different scenarios. The branching ways you can see different things or go on different missions, and act in different ways, and then come back together for a conclusion, is definitely a design challenge. But the real goal is that you can feel seen in the world, that your choices really do matter. If you are playing that way, you really can help a cruise director, from the moment you learn what her allegiance is, all the way through that narrative.”

We also spoke to another Imagineering producer on the Galactic Starcruiser project, Travis Finstein. The goal of the project, he explained, was “creating these next-generation type experiences that tell a story beyond what is on a screen, that instead takes guests into an environment and lets them participate in a story.” We then asked what he hoped guests would take away from their Halcyon adventure.

“I hope they have an experience they can’t have anywhere else in the world. I hope they come here to experience something new, and playing to a level that they have never played before. When you get a chance to interact with and play with these characters, and run around the ship with stormtroopers and Rey and other characters we have onboard the ship, and participate in an adventure with them in an authentic Star Wars environment, you’re really getting to do something we’ve never had a chance to do before.”

Something’s happening on the bridge … without the Captain.

And the adventure is not limited to the Halcyon itself. While talking to Ann Morrow Johnson, we noted that both Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester are quite familiar with Galaxy’s Edge from multiple visits since its 2019 opening. Yet now those scenarios and experiences on Batuu – including the events occurring on the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance theme park rides, as well as a visit to Oga’s Cantina – have a completely new connotation when experienced as part of the Galactic Starcruiser voyage.

“It is all part of your adventure and your story. The time you have in your short excursion to the Black Spire Outpost, you may get up to things that a normal cruise passenger might not be supposed to do as a tourist. But yes, it is a part of your story and it absolutely has ramifications back onboard the ship.”

About to enter Black Spire Outpost from the Halycon excursion.

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Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to

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