News broke this week that Disney is conducting surveys to gauge interest in the creation of an all-inclusive, immersive, 2-night resort experience at a theoretical Star Wars Starship hotel. From WDWNT:
This all-inclusive, 2-night immersive resort experience at Walt Disney World would include:
-The opportunity to experience a 2-day story set in the the Star Wars universe
-Be surrounded in a continuous, story-driven entertainment experience as it unfolds over the course of the 2-night stay
-Have personal interactions with Star Wars characters, live performers throughout the starship (experience the story or simply observe the action according to personal preference)
-Engage in the story with programs such as flight training, ship exploration, lightsaber training, and personalized secret missions (both on the starship and throughout the Star Wars themed planet)
Disney Has a Resort Quality Problem
What many people might not realize is that Walt Disney World actually has a resort quality problem. Specifically, since letting other resorts onto their property, people have started to take notice that Disney resorts are actually not always the highest quality. This isn't to say they aren't great, they are. But when you're comparing quality on the dollar, they don't compete with, say, the Four Seasons. Yes, there are lots of perks to staying at Disney-managed properties. Indeed, we much prefer these properties, but the problem is real. This most recently popped into the news when rumors started circulating that Grand Floridian might be up for serious refurbishment.
As Walt Disney World Otherwise Improves, the Resort Quality Matters More, Not Less
The Walt Disney World parks are on the upswing. Definitely. New Fantasyland was an improvement to Magic Kingdom. Pandora will be a welcome update to Animal Kingdom for many. Hollywood Studios is getting two new great lands. And all indications are that major changes are ahead at Epcot.
My gut reaction was that improving parks makes resort quality less important. Since people are going to be spending all their time in the parks, why should they care about the little things back at their resort.
But this instinct was wrong. It would be correct if Disney had a single resort with park access, but with improving transit options, other resort options are going to start to come into play for more folks. That means that if I'm able to catch a gondola from Pop Century, or a Disney-Rideshare from the Four Seasons, to spend up to 16 hours away from my resort, Disney's best resorts better offer something really special if they want me to pay a premium.
The Rumored Star Wars Resort Sounds Really Special, But Then What?
If this Star Wars resort came to fruition it would be, for lack of a better word, magical. At the rumored price point ($1000 per person), I would definitely book a stay. (If I had two kids...eh....). But is this a long-term strategy for Disney? What if they revamped the Grand Floridian to be some sort of princess-themed resort?
Disney has already started to theme cruises, with Star Wars and Avengers offerings being quite popular. They have themed RunDisney races. Pandora, with its unique food options, seems to be an entirely new level of park theming.
What intrigues me most about this is that the Disney resorts try to be themed, but for the most part they fall short of the rest of the Disney experience. Animal Kingdom Lodge is perhaps the best resort at transporting you into a different world, but does anyone walk into the Contemporary and feel transported? What about BoardWalk Inn? Taking the theming to the next level could be a workable long-term strategy, and it could help distinguish Disney resorts from other high-quality resorts.