What Is Disney Thinking With Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge?

July 6, 2022, 3:35 PM · 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.

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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.

Oh, well.

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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Replies (28)

July 6, 2022 at 3:45 PM

How strange.
It's almost as if someone was in charge of Disney who is known to be extremely stingy, overly greedy and with no concept of what Disney fans want.
Truly mystery we may never solve...

July 6, 2022 at 4:39 PM

Sounds like it's still bigger than Trader Sam's at the Poly.

July 6, 2022 at 5:46 PM

I've seen quite a bit of coverage of the Hyperspace Lounge, and I was pretty shocked at what they did in this space compared to Sublight Lounge on the Galactic Starcruiser. First, without those space windows and name on the entry area, you'd have no clue the Hyperspace Lounge was a Star Wars bar. While the Sublight Lounge on the Halcyon omits this feature, it screams Star Wars the second you walk in even without the screen (though as I noted, the public gathering areas of the Starcruiser like the Sublight Lounge probably could have used a few more screens to sell the theme and sense of motion through space). Secondly, the size of this space as I gather appears to be about half the size of Oga's Cantina at DHS/Disneyland. So the ratio of guests on the ship (@4,500) to seats in the lounge (@45) is probably 5-10 times as small as the ratio of guests in the respective theme park (@30-50k) to seats in Oga's Cantina (@75). However, over at the Starcruiser, the Sublight Lounge is just a tad smaller than the Hyperspace Lounge for less than 500 passengers, which is why we never entered the Lounge when there wasn't a place to sit, even when furious games of Sabaac were going on at the center table. Third, I'm pretty disappointed that there aren't characters in the lounge. I suppose that once the CMs running the bar get used to the space, they can get more into character like those who work at Oga's, but the overall cold look of the place and relatively bland design is screaming out for at least SOMETHING aside from a screen to entertain the guests inside. Perhaps that's the point - Disney doesn't want guests lingering inside too long so everyone on board who wants to hang out here can do so, and by charging for drinks inside (including non-alcoholic ones) guests will eventually run out of credits and leave, opening a seat for a guest behind the "velvet rope".

As far as the $5k drink, it's definitely an attention grabber, just as much as the price for a stay on the Galactic Starcruiser, and I think that's completely by design. As with the Starcruiser, when you break it down and analyze what you get for that massive cost (in the case of the drink, 3 shots of VERY exclusive liquor, collectible glasses, extra wine to take home, special "escort" off the Wish, and that ticket to Skywalker Ranch - just for one person though, which doesn't include travel costs), Disney is pushing the boundaries, but is not putting it completely out of reach of us mere mortals (though many of us would have to check our sanity after spending $5k on it). In the end, Disney is quickly learning that hard core Star Wars fans will spend whatever it takes to connect to their favorite franchise. The real question is how many of those fans can Disney connect with and how many times will they come back to keep these exclusive experiences operating?

The other issue is that some of these exclusive experiences are getting to the point where they're angering fans who see the cost of entry at such a high level that they begin to hate what they used to love, because they can't afford the cost anymore. It's not just Disney, but other companies appear to be doing the same thing by seemingly exploiting the fandom that they have created in their products and services trying to cater to the rich and their seemingly limitless disposable income. This drink is definitely on that level, and perhaps the backlash is as much media driven as anything else, particularly from outlets that are just getting indignant because of the price without fully analyzing or listing what you get.

July 6, 2022 at 5:56 PM

No thanks. Ill stick to the butter beer.

July 6, 2022 at 6:14 PM

I don't think a $5,000 drink would seem all that outrageous (or even that interesting, frankly) if they had created a larger, more interesting space for passengers to hang out in. it's disappointing that now, after several bites at this apple, Disney has yet to build a bar or restaurant where fans can just ... show up and grab a table without much hassle, despite building four (by my count) inside locations you have to spend money just to get inside.

just build a bigger bar, you're not paying rent to anyone and you don't have to worry about people wandering over to a more happening club down the block. you're the only show in town.

July 6, 2022 at 8:38 PM

My point is that Disney doesn’t want that. By creating an artificial scarcity for Star Wars stuff, Disney can help push an idea that Star Wars remains more popular that perhaps it really is.

July 6, 2022 at 8:57 PM

Ruby Payne, in her book “A Framework for Poverty” states what is important in regards to food for lower, middle, and upper economic class people. The lower class simply wants enough to eat; the middle class wants food that tastes good. But the upper class wants food that is “presented well”. With the amount of dessert parties showcasing fancy cupcakes, high dollar dinners in the parks, hotels, and cruise ships, and the high dollar drinks pretty much everywhere, it should be no surprise the clientele Disney management considers the most important.

July 6, 2022 at 9:10 PM

Sorry, but that "theming" is pathetic, looks like the older kids room at Chuck E. Cheese. Also, the hyperspace lines don't go in the correct direction (they should come at you). A cruise must be seriously boring if folks are clamoring to spend time in there.

For five grand they should serve you the drink then heave you over the side of the boat.

July 6, 2022 at 11:41 PM

Thanks for the review Robert. This sounds very disappointing. Looks like Disney is really turning into the money-grubbers their detractors have long accused them of being.

July 6, 2022 at 11:55 PM

I honestly believe that a person’s money is a person’s money, end of conversation. They are free to spend it as they wish.
That being said, there is also something known as respect for money. That even if you are extremely rich the money you have should be respected and not wasted on nonsense. This 5k extravagance is the text book example of nonsense.
I’m no bleeding heart liberal type (far from it to be honest, Mr Niles would no doubt get red faced with me in regards to a few subjects) but the whole concept of throwing away 5k on a few shots seems borderline sinful. Now when I use the term sinful, I’m not using it in a religious sense but in the concept of thinking what that money could have gone to that really was worth while. Things like a years worth of piano lessons to make you a fuller person, a trip to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings to see truly a wonder of the world, make a donation to the Smithsonian to foster the minds of another generation or heck to just donate it to a soup kitchen in your local town.
Once again it is your money, but why waste it on this silliness?

July 7, 2022 at 12:46 AM

I'm the wrong person to talk to as I think five bucks for a soda is outrageous so five grand for a drink is mind-blowing. This really does seem like Disney vastly overestimated the general spending habits of many fans.

July 7, 2022 at 8:05 AM

@thecolonel - The window/screen in the Hyperspace Lounge is presenting "hyperspace" correctly, since the "lines" would only come towards a window that's on the front/bow of the ship. It's the same on the Galactic Starcruiser where the only display that shows the star streaks coming at the window are the ones on the bridge. All the other windows on the ship, including all of the cabins, show the stars streaking from from one side of the window to another.

July 7, 2022 at 9:15 AM

This is the first time I've heard anyone mention that there are lots of 'other' things you get for the cost of the drink. The press is so breathlessly in a hurry to blast a headline of 'look at these freaks at Disney, offering a $5k drink in a recession' that there seems to be plenty of blame to go around for the attention and focus on it. Had it just showed up quietly on the menu and not mentioned in the media cruise, etc. we probably would have gotten a ton of YouTube videos about 'what is this myseterious $5k drink on the menu on the Wish?'. I'm not sure Disney handled the PR right on how they revealed it, but the press has also gone out of their way to make it sounds outrageous.

July 7, 2022 at 10:15 AM

@Robert I understand what Disney wants, I’m just publicly processing my disappointment that a company capable of building large, incredible themed environments owns one of my favorite IPs, created one of my favorite Star Wars movies, and is doing this with it instead of what I think it’s capable of. it’s a bummer, to me. that’s all.

July 7, 2022 at 10:29 AM

@russell Guess that makes sense! Still looks wrong though.

July 7, 2022 at 11:11 AM

0:42 of the video:
Disney representative, "You remember that one scene from the Han Solo movie?"
Everyone watching this, "No, not really."

Still though, I agree with Robert that the Star Wars themed kids area of the ship looks pretty awesome.

July 7, 2022 at 11:22 AM

@Jacob - I think that's the basic problem with Star Wars. Because it's such a widely adored, popular, and long-running IP, everyone is going to approach it from a slightly different perspective, even Imagineers that have been tasked with packaging themed environments for the masses. Everyone comes to the table with different expectations and reference points for the IP. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are naturally going to connect to the Original Trilogy, while Millennials and the next generation (whatever catchy phrase they're going to be known by) are likely to connect with the Prequels and/or the Disney versions of the IP. WDI has to try to please the widest audience while still making these environments look and feel like Star Wars to each of these distinct groups (hence why Galaxy's Edge was set on Batuu and not an existing planet from the Star Wars Universe).

The only on-screen "bars" we've seen have been Mos Eisley's Cantina (ANH), Dex's Diner (AoTC), Maz Kanata's place (TFA), Dryden Vos's bar on his starship (Solo), and random unnamed establishments from The Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett, which were mostly just copies of places seen in the feature films. So WDI had to take visual queues from a very limited set of references while still trying to make them unique as they are set in different locations from their filmed counterparts.

As far as Star Wars as a whole, I think Disney could create an entire 150 acre theme park full of Star Wars attractions and lands, and it would be immensely popular, but it would still be very risky from a company that has generally been pretty conservative in terms of pushing the envelope when it comes to the design and definition of a theme park (ducks wrenches thrown from TH). I would argue that the Galactic Starcruiser (and it's "bolting on" to Galaxy's Edge) is the Star Wars theme park that many wanted when Disney bought Lucasfilm, but obviously the way it's designed and priced is not conducive to the masses wanting to visit a Star Wars theme park.

When UC debuted Hogsmeade and then expanded with Diagon Alley a couple of years later, they established a potential mold to create a full theme park centered around one IP. However, Disney chose to constrain Star Wars to singular (duplicative) lands in their American parks, and are adding smaller, more intimate Star Wars experiences in response to the popularity of Galaxy's Edge instead of creating larger and more varied Star Wars lands or that illusive dream of a full-scale Star Wars park.

IMHO, WDI is in an unwinnable situation, because they know they're sitting on a gold mine that executives want them to exploit for massive profit. However, WDI has always been about creating legacies and installations that can last the test of time, and going "all-in" on Star Wars (as the film division attempted to do when they first purchased Lucasfilm, but have since reeled back to avoid oversaturation) would represent a massive risk that would still never meet fan expectations nor have a wide enough appeal to satisfy executives' thirst for revenue.

Instead WDI is kind of trying to straddle this line by creating "profit centers" that are limited in scope to avoid alienating the GP, while still detailed and immersive enough to draw the hard core fans and keeping some cards in their hand to maintain that thirst for more.

July 7, 2022 at 11:30 AM

Im honestly quite surprised that Lucasfilm hasn't done more in either Star Wars television or film to reference Batuu on screen. I know that it has appeared on the printed page, and perhaps the quite-specific timeframe in which the "story" of the land is supposed to happen has constrained this notion. But i also feel like there is a real opportunity there to create a more engaging place for theme park fans and star wars die hards there too.
Again, i know that the story of RotR is a very specific plot point that leads directly into Episode 9, but if you pay me like WDI or Lucasfilm execs i betcha i could come up with several nifty solutions on how to still pull this off ;)

July 7, 2022 at 11:30 AM

Well, the approaches of WDI and Universal Creative are certainly different. Universal created the 'areas you wanted to visit' from the films for Harry Potter. So they leaned heavily into direct movie IP in lifting those areas. That was less risky for a company that paid a lot of money for the rights to HP and at the same time did not previously have a lot of experience with large placesetting and spending a lot of money to create the same in a theme park.

WDI, starting with their adaptation of Avatar and now Star Wars have taken a very different approach. You could probably make a case that that placesetting started before that overseas, but Avatar is the first fully fleshed out one in the States anyhow. They are place setting in the 'universe of' the IP, and not necessarily in the direct places from the movie. They are trying to expand the narrative to have the parks exist in places that could exist in line with the primary narrative. They are doing the same now with the various Marvel characters and lands as well.

July 7, 2022 at 12:06 PM

We talked about the challenge of bringing Star Wars into the parks nearly 10 years ago - see https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201306/3526/. Curiously, the option that Disney went with was the least-favored option in that poll.

July 7, 2022 at 12:15 PM

"So they leaned heavily into direct movie IP in lifting those areas."

That is true, but in UC's case, they were also constrained by the IP's creator who had final say on EVERYTHING that's part of the WWoHP. While Cameron and Lightstorm had tons of input on PtWoA, and Lucasfilm collaborated with WDI for Galaxy's Edge, Imagineers had a lot more freedom to tailor those lands to their vision than UC had with Harry Potter. Granted Disney had already worked with Lucasfilm on Star Tours, so perhaps the two entities had already agreed on what a theoretical Star Wars Land would look like back in 1987, though the setting of DHS's Star Tours on Endor would suggest a known location would have been used.

I strongly believe that if Cameron had creative control over PtWoA, there's absolutely no way the only Na'Vi guests see in the land would be the animatronic Shaman and the projected versions you see on FoP. Similarly, if Lucasfilm (mainly George) were in complete control of Galaxy's Edge, it would have almost certainly been set on an already visited planet (or planets) within the Star Wars universe.

July 7, 2022 at 12:32 PM

Russell sums it up perfectly with a line I've seen elsewhere: What is "true" Star Wars to one fan is not to another. They'll have differences in opinions and views and you see the fights on forums over it. For every person who hails The Last Jedi, there's another who says it's horrible. Actually, it's like that for every movie, even haters on Empire Strikes Back and such. There was no way to present a Galaxy's Edge to please everyone, there would always be haters.

I've said it before and I maintain, if they had made it for the OT, then plenty of complaints on "Disney played it too safe with familiar stuff rather than try something new." And that's without the issues working with creators so it's little wonder why trying to please such an often divided and fickle fanbase was a fool's errand.

July 7, 2022 at 12:47 PM


Its an entertaining and fascinating exercise reading some of the theories and suggestions in the Comments section of that link. Thanks for the throwback

July 7, 2022 at 2:25 PM

Terrible lounge that doesn't look anything star wars and too small. I have no problem to spent 5K for a few shots but:
1) silver-plating gets ugly in the dishwasher and can't go into the microwave.
2) No stadium seating, so the plebs on the ship can't see me spent all that money.
3) Smoke shouldn't bellow out of the container but should also be blown up my ass.

In all seriousness I have no problem with the cost of the drinks but Disney should handle their staff with more respectful (press charges when they are mistreated by guests) and give them a living wages. But instead it goes to Bobs third home, second wife and a wig.

July 7, 2022 at 2:27 PM

I agree with all that, and as someone who is generally a tremendous fan of Galaxy's Edge I only wish the restaurant spaces were larger and more immersive (or, I guess, more varied and interesting). Oga's Cantina is phenomenal (even as someone who no longer drinks alcohol) but it's tiny.

So, I dunno, make a bigger cantina. That's it. That's the post.

Also, as is the case today and will be the case in another 10 years: I disagree with me from 10 years ago. I was wrong. I like what Disney decided to do more than what I wanted them to do.

July 7, 2022 at 5:42 PM

@OT lollll on 3)

@Russell great analysis.

July 8, 2022 at 11:04 AM

@russell I'm pretty sure James Cameron and his producer Jon Landau had a heavy hand in what we see in the land in Animal Kingdom. I listened to Jon give an interview in fact at the opening of same where he discussed that the park setting was in a time beyond the arc of the movies (plural, not the singular Avatar). Had the other 4 movies never come to fruition, we'd be left a bit to wonder what connected the two, and as it is Cameron and Disney have only committed to the next 2 theatrical releases having filmed them back to back. It remains to be seen I guess how that actually plays out.

Won't get into the differences between J.K. Rowling (who I see as fairly narrow minded in scope and vision for Harry Potter) vs James Cameron (who at least for Avatar is painting on a MUCH larger, more expansive canvas). But as you note, they go a long way too in what got built.

@Jacob Yes. I believe the problem for WDW Galaxies Edge is that it's too much a copy of the Disneyland version in sizing and scope. Having been to both, those spaces feel 'right' at Disneyland but even the open shopping area feels small and oppressive in the summer heat in Florida in comparison. WDW needed to be able to 'plus' it up a little for larger sizing of WDW and there I think they blew it. Though the caps on attendance have helped some in making the land feel less crowded.

July 8, 2022 at 1:45 PM

@fireboy92k - You're correct about PtWoA's setting in that universe, but the way that was initially released seemed pretty clear that the decision was coming from WDI and Rohde, not Lightstorm and Cameron who were already planning for the sequels prior to Disney purchasing the theme park license. Many observers, including myself here, noted the omission of Na'vi from the land as a cop-out because WDI has been unable to produce real-life versions of the characters that could stand up to up-close scrutiny as roam-around characters (Universal has figured out how to get legit-looking Transformers and dinosaurs to walk around the park). So what better way to avoid the challenge of populating Pandora with Na'Vi? Build a backstory that has them evacuating the planet, yet for some reason the Shaman is left behind as well as a few others to become guests' avatars in FoP - LAME.

I highly doubt Cameron would have approved such a decision if he had full creative control like Rowling does over the WWoHP.

When it comes to Galaxy's Edge, I think it was a mistake to build virtually carbon copies of the land in both parks. I don't necessarily think DHS needed a larger version (technically it is larger if you include Galactic Starcruiser), just something slightly different to encourage more guests to visit both parks. The only difference between the 2 is the extra entrance at DL (next to the land speeder repair bay) and the Galactic Starcruiser Launch Bay. DHS is the smallest park at WDW, so it's not like they had a massive amount of space to work with there, but they still used economies of scale to save money by copying the DL designs at DHS instead of creating a unique land for the Florida park. It's not like Galaxy's Edge wasn't going to make a return on the investment, so it's baffling that they chose to cut corners through cloning for their most lucrative IP.

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