Sunday 24 October 2021

When you Wish upon a Star Wars

For the past few weeks, UK-based Disney cruise ships have been moored offshore entertaining passengers eager for Hollywood-themed escapism as we emerge from the latest lockdown.

Next year, Disney Wish passengers will be able to make the jump into hyperspace. Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, uses macrobinoculars to peer across oceans in a galaxy far, far away...

Guest post by Nick Smith

Outer space may still be reserved for the mega-rich and famous but next year, somewhere out on the ocean, fans will be able to enjoy a little corner of the galaxy courtesy of Disney.

The entertainment company recently announced a Star Wars-themed immersive cruise with a children’s space and a family lounge on the Disney Wish. As earth’s disappointingly singular sun sets, however, the lounge will become a bar for grown-ups, providing what the company calls, ‘an elevated adult escape.’

When Disney senior creative director of Imagineering Danny Handke oversaw Star Wars-themed children’s spots on other cruise ships – the Dream and the Fantasy – he saw an opportunity to provide a space for adults, too. The Hyperspace Lounge will be, "a kind of a Dryden Vos yacht ship," he explained, "… a party ship through the galaxy. We’re jumping to different locations and getting a tour of space, and sampling amazing drinks from those different planets."

Screens will show locations like Tatooine, Mustafar and Endor and a little skirmish between TIE Fighters and X-wings, created with the assistance of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

Other than that, concept art depicts what looks like a regular bar with gold Star Wars trimmings. The vertical lighting is reminiscent of John Barry’s groundbreaking designs for Star Wars: A New Hope. The virtual view of space will be the real draw, along with gallery pieces from different planets that the space vessel visits – kind of like the memorabilia you see in the Hard Rock CafĂ© but with more Sith bits.

"It might be a volcanic crystal from Mustafar," says Handke. "We have an idol that was unearthed from Batuu. We just wanted to have different oddities that bring color to the space, but also celebrate the overall hyperspace story that we’re telling."

The Disney Wish, with its lightspeed lounge, is set to sail in summer 2022. It’s a far cry from the cantina I built when I was a kid, using a grocery box with cardboard chairs and tables for my action figures. While my set-up cost nothing but time, the real-as-you-can-get starcruiser experience will put you back almost $5000 for two nights. It’s pricey, even for an immersive experience. It might be better to save up for real space travel instead.

Yet the Hyperspace Lounge could be the experience of a lifetime and the technology behind the screens is enthralling in itself. Kids get to immerse themselves all the time and it is good to see adults get a turn. It’s childish to play pretend but, as Yoda showed us, it’s OK to act like a youngling sometimes.

The themed lounge also begs the question, what’s next? Eastenders Afloat, where you can get queasy on The Queen Vic? Carry On up the Clyde, a place to have a pint with a cackling Sid James lookalike? Or we could keep on doing what we’ve always done and use our imaginations – and save a small fortune – instead.

One last question: Do they allow droids?

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