Based on queue length, the most popular attraction aboard the new Disney Wish has to be the Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge. Passengers gathered outside this Star Wars-themed bar throughout the afternoons and evenings, spilling over into the adjacent "The Princess and the Frog"-themed The Bayou lounge.
Of course, long-time Theme Park Insider readers know that queue length is not, by itself, an honest indicator of popularity. Capacity affects wait times, too, and capacity is definitely an issue in the Hyperspace Lounge.
Accommodating no more than about four dozen people at a time, this is definitely an intimate space. So intimate, that one has to suspect that Disney designed it to generate the social buzz that a line out of the door creates rather than to accommodate as many Star Wars fans as possible.
It's a lesson taught by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager with their Studio 54 in the 1970s and adopted as gospel by club owners around the world since. If there's not a mass of people waiting behind a velvet rope at the door, your club is a dud.
But is that really what Disney was going for with Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge? We talked with one of the location's creators, then got a demonstration - and a taste - of what the lounge has to offer.
Now let's see the Hyperspace Lounge in action.
Theming Disney Wish's Hyperspace Lounge to a bar in the lowest-grossing live-action Star Wars film [Dryden Vos' First Light from "Solo: A Star Wars Story"] is an, uh, aggressive design choice. There's no DJ Rex here, as in Oga's Cantina, or the walk-around characters that help drive the story about the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser's Halcyon. It's up to the people who get past the velvet rope to supply the energy in this room.
That giant space window does help, especially when the lounge's ship makes the jump to light speed and everyone in the bar cheers.
But let's talk about the element of Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge that has elicited the most jeers since the bar opened to the press last week - that $5,000 “Kaiburr Crystal” cocktail.
In the video above, you can see Natalie ask about the drink, only for the bartender to demur. I wasn't about to drop five racks to find out what the thing was, but of course, others on the cruise did.
According to my friend Arthur Levine, the drinks come in a special container (which you don’t get to keep) holding silver-plated shot glasses (which you do). The alcohol includes Camus cognac and Grand Marnier Quintessence, as well as shots of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 Year bourbon and Taylor's Fladgate Kingsman Edition Very Old Tawny Port. The $5K also gets you Skywalker Ranch wines delivered to your stateroom as well as a pass to visit the closed-to-the-public Skywalker Ranch in California after your cruise.
Ultimately, to many, what the $5,000 gets you does not matter as much as the fact that you - or someone else - paid five Gs for it. It’s a status play, made to a public that is becoming increasingly frustrated with profligate spending by a select few while so many of us struggle to pay for rent, gas, health care, and student loans.
Granted, outside of a media preview cruise, you won’t find too many passengers struggling to make ends meet on a Disney Cruise. But Disney put this extravagance on the menu knowing it would grab attention far beyond the decks of the Wish.
Did Disney not know how much this thing would trigger its fans, already weary from annual pass limitations and Lightning Lane upcharges? Or did it not care?
Ultimately, Disney could have had it both ways with a little extra creativity. Natalie suggested that Disney could have instead delivered its $5K spender a custom cocktail with a hand-signed note thanking them for their $4,950 donation to Make-A-Wish.
Disney literally made a production of its support for Make-A-Wish with the Christening ceremony for the Disney Wish, including three Make-A-Wish kids to bless the ship. Turning a honey trap for attention-grabbing big spenders into a source of money for this charity could have made for far more interesting discussions online than what Disney’s current product has elicited.
That aside, as a long-time Star Wars fan, I got more excited touring the far more detailed and interactive Star Wars Cargo Bay downstairs from the Hyperspace Lounge, in the Wish’s kids’ area. (Description of that is coming later this week.) And if I just wanted a drink, The Bayou next door is charming.
But nothing I say matters, does it? So long as a people crowd the velvet rope, and “Star Wars” is on the door, fans will want to get in.
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