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Disney Has a Massive 'Star Wars' Hit Many Never Expected

The theme park giant bet big on 'Star Wars' yet again and that bet has appeared to pay off.

"Star Wars" has had a mixed response since Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report spent $4 billion buying the franchise, as well as a few others, including "Indiana Jones" from George Lucas. 

The company released a new trilogy that met with financial success but was not well received by fans. 

It's not that people universally disliked the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, but it certainly did not receive the universal acclaim of the original trilogy.

Disney also made the well-regarded "Star Wars: Rogue One" standalone movie and the much less well-liked "Solo: A Star Wars Story." 

That film, a bomb by "Star Wars" standards, essentially put the theatrical future of the franchise on pause.

That may have been a blessing as it turned the focus to "The Mandalorian," a Disney+ streaming show that reignited the fan base — and perhaps brought in new people through Baby Yoda.

"The Mandalorian" led to "Book of Boba Fett," which served as sort of a companion series and that has gotten people very excited for the streaming channel's late-May "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series.

Disney has also made "Star Wars" a huge part of its theme parks and that has not always been smooth sailing.

Disneyland Star Wars Lead JS

Star Wars the Theme Park Attraction  

Disney opted to bet big on "Star Wars" in its theme parks building two Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands at Disneyland in California and at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

Both parks were immersive worlds designed to make visitors feel like they were on a different planet.      

The lands, which depict the fictional planet Batuu, shut out the outside world and put visitors into a "Star Wars" experience. 

It was a very bold bet, on par with what rival Comcast's (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report Universal Studios have built with their Harry Potter lands.

That bet, at first, looked like it may flop as the lands were met with construction delays and opened with only Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run fully operational while Galaxy's Edge's top attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (ROTR) struggled with frequent breakdowns.

Even when ROTR began operating normally, Disney used a lottery system for slots on the ride which left some theme park visitors not being able to ride. 

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That created bad feelings and led to initial skepticism that Galaxy's Edge would be a hit.

Time has worked out the kinks and quelled those fears with Galaxy's Edge being an unparalleled hit on both coasts. 

That did not, however, allow the company any benefit of the doubt for its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel project.

This two-night immersive experience — which includes time at Galaxy's Edge — costs $4,809 for a party of two and $5,999 for a party of four. 

That's a huge number which led to a lot of skepticism about the project. 

Disney Disproves Its Doubters

In the lead-up to Galaxy Starcruiser's launch, there were countless media reports about people canceling their reservations after being underwhelmed by early footage of the experience. 

It was reported that there were all sorts of unsold dates and a narrative was advanced that Disney likely had reached too far on price.

Disney said very during the periods of predicted doom and negative publicity. 

Now, with the "Star Wars"-themed hotel open, CEO Bob Chapek gave an emphatic answer to anyone who doubted the project during his company's second-quarter earnings call.

"Response to next-generation storytelling like Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has been phenomenal," he said. 

"In fact, guest ratings for this immersive experience, which opened March 1, are incredibly high and in line with our best-in-class offerings. Demand is strong, and we expect 100% utilization through the end of Q3."

It's hard to do better than 100% utilization. 

Disney has repeatedly shown that it has pricing power due to scarcity. 

That's why its sells out its added-fee limited capacity after-hours events, and why it can charge higher prices during busier times. 

Now, it has made it very clear that it knows the "Star Wars" audience and they will pay pretty much whatever it takes to immerse themselves in that world.