Star Wars is pretty good. People don’t say that enough, at least not on the internet. From movies, to TV shows, to comics, to theme parks, Star Wars is, by and large, pretty good. Definitely not that bad. (Oh, videogames, too.) Yeah, some Star Wars aren’t as good as others, but even the weaker movies are fun to watch, and its well-worn aesthetic—the alien deserts and dusty, grimy relics of far-future technology juxtaposed with the immaculate, soulless, and monstrously large architecture of space fascists—remains so powerful and evocative that it can make you overlook all sorts of problems. That’s a big reason why my favorite recent additions to the Star Wars canon are its themed spaces, from the Galaxy’s Edge theme park area, to the Galactic Starcruiser hotel. They genuinely feel like lived-in Star Wars locations—locations that you now get to live in, too, at least for a short while.
Disney recently debuted its latest Star Wars space, the Hyperspace Lounge—a small themed bar aboard the Disney Wish cruise ship, whose maiden voyage sets sail on July 14. Like Disney’s other Star Wars bars—Oga’s Cantina at Galaxy’s Edge and the Sublight Lounge on the Galactic Starcruiser—the Hyperspace Lounge transports you to the galaxy you’ve been watching on-screen for decades, and then plies you with the kind of drinks Han and Lando almost definitely knocked back as often as they could. You’d probably want to hang out there just for that Star Wars atmosphere even if it didn’t sell alcohol; as it is, the booze just makes the whole place that much better.
The Hyperspace has a crucial central design feature that helps it live up to the high standard set by the more intricately themed Oga’s Cantina and Sublight Lounge. Behind the bar hangs a giant screen that looks like a window into space; guests can watch ships and planets from the movies float by as they sip their drinks, with a convincing illusion of cruising through space. Every few minutes the lounge enters hyperspace, with blue lights streaking across the screen, and a subtle sense of motion, and lands in a new scene set somewhere else in the Star Wars universe. There’s about an hour of footage total, so those hyperspace jumps will keep you entertained as you down your Picked Mynock. Somehow the jumps never quite get old, and the whole show is one of the best things Disney has done yet with its Star Wars bars. I could sit there staring out into space and hopping through the galaxy all night.
That screen does a lot of heavy lifting for the Hyperspace. It’s an intentionally sleek and elegant room, without all of the tiny details or interactive elements of Disney’s other Star Wars bars. It’s the fanciest of the three, which means it’s also the coldest and least inviting. The whole experience hinges on that screen, and thankfully it’s a powerful enough illusion to carry that weight.
Like the Sublight, the Hyperspace Lounge reflects the wealthier side of the Star Wars universe. As Imagineer Pam Rollins told us, it’s inspired in part by crime lord Dryden Vos’s elegant ship First Light, as seen in Solo. It’s a minimal aesthetic for a Stars Wars space, without the grit and clutter of Oga’s Cantina. Expect a color scheme of gold and purple, with circular light fixtures on clean walls and an almost-room-length bar that ripples against the far wall. Seating is sparse, with two booths, a handful of free-standing tables, seven or eight stools at the bar, and some bench-style seating on the ends of the room; with a capacity of only a few dozen, the Hyperspace will require reservations, and will also limit guests’ time to 45 minutes, just like at Oga’s Cantina. Clear liquor bottles sit behind the bar with Star Wars writing etched upon them, as large beakers of colored liquid gurgle in the corner. A few exhibits dot the room, including a bust of a Togrutan and what appears to be a petrified or taxidermied space bird. It’s small, clean, and sparsely decorated, which fits the in-universe inspiration, but makes it less interesting to hang out in than those other Star Wars bars, outside of those cool hyperspace jumps.
Fortunately the drinks are top notch. The cocktail menu includes drinks themed to such locations as Mustafar, Batuu, and the Moons of Endor, with ingredients that try to reflect the spirit of each planet. The Chancellor, from the Imperial capital of Coruscant, is a heady mix of Hennessy James cognac and Calvados Menorval 1972 brandy served with a cinnamon smoke bubble; it’s exactly the kind of richly intoxicating drink you’d expect self-important men to sip during backroom meetings. The Freetown Reserve, meanwhile, infuses Woodford Reserve Double Oaked with “Bantha hides” and fermented grains. The bourbon appears to be titrated through a large glass tower with a flask containing fruit and other earthy elements to nail that taste of desert planet alien pack mule you expect from a Bantha. I’m not sure exactly what’s in it, but it’s far tastier than any drink made of Bantha should ever be. The menu includes four other cocktails (the tropical Pickled Mynock was one of my favorites), a variety of beer and wine, and two zero-proof drinks for anybody laying off the hard stuff. One of those, the Temple Twist, was the best drink I had in the whole place; a crisp and refreshing combo of apple, mint, pineapple, and ginger beer, it came with a kiwi slice with a pineapple leaf stuck into either side, giving the whole joint just a tiny little touch of Grogu. (The Temple Twist would be amazing with some rum in it.)
Of course there’s one thing on the menu that has dominated most of the conversation around the Hyperspace Lounge—and perhaps even the Disney Wish as a whole. That’s the $5000 cocktail, the infamous Kaiburr Crystal, the contents of which were a closely held secret aboard the Disney Wish. It was only on the last day of the media cruise that one journalist got the scoop; as Arthur Levine reported in his newsletter Arthur’s About Theme Parks, this absurdly expensive order isn’t a single drink but a little treasure chest full of goodies. It comes in some kind of themed container that makes sounds and needs to be manually opened by guests, and inside are three servings of a cocktail with Camus cognac, Grand Marnier Quintessence, yuzu and kumquat. It also includes shots of Pappy Van Winkle’s costly Family Reserve 23 Year bourbon and the excellently-named Taylor’s Fladgate Kingsman Edition Very Old Tawny Port. That appears to all be mixed together into a single drink, with three servings in an order. Despite the high price, guests can’t keep the container it comes in, but they do go home with the three cups inside. Later on they’ll receive flowers and a bottle of Skywalker wine in their stateroom. The kicker, and the closest this drink’s price gets to making sense, is a ticket for a tour of George Lucas’s Skywalker Vineyard. It doesn’t cover airfare to Northern California or lodging, but if you can get to Marin County, you can get a tour of the place, which is otherwise closed to the public.
If a $5000 cocktail sounds more like a marketing ploy than a real drink Disney expects anybody to order, well, I’m right there with you. It’s not as annoying or infuriating as those hamburgers that cost thousands of dollars and come wrapped in edible gold foil—and a tour of an otherwise untourable winery is a legitimate perk—but selling something so exorbitant on an already expensive cruise seems more than a little out of a touch at a time when the economy is fading and most people are struggling. It feels like an especially bad decision when Disney is already getting bad publicity for customer-unfriendly changes like replacing free Fast Passes at the parks with the paid (and inferior) Lightning Lane service. On top of that, playing coy about what comes in the $5000 drink on a cruise ship full of media guarantees that early press coverage will heavily focus on it, and that’s exactly what happened—everybody I’ve talked to about the cruise has immediately asked about the overpriced Star Wars drink. I’m sure there’ll be a number of fantastically wealthy Wish guests who splurge for the high-ticket cocktail, but the Kaiburr Crystal seems less about selling booze and more about getting attention—and not really the kind of attention Disney needs right now.
The Kaiburr Crystal is like a black hole sucking all the attention and acclaim the Hyperspace Lounge deserves into the dead space of this absurdly priced drink. That’s a shame; it’s not quite on the level of Oga’s Cantina or the Sublight Lounge, but the Hyperspace is an exciting, enchanting addition to Disney’s growing roster of Star Wars bars. If it was in my hometown and was easy to get into, I’d be a regular, which is the highest praise you can give a bar. If you ever sail aboard the Disney Wish, make a point of getting a reservation, if you can.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.