Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hyperspace Hoopla - View to a Kill

They need to do something about the Hyperspace Hoopla, the culminating show at the end of the day during Star Wars Weekends.

This great, amazing, wonderful, cheesy, irreverent (and sometimes baffling to the uninitiated, or irritating to the ultra-purist Star Wars fan) show has always had trouble with venues. It started on the small stage next to Star Tours, and in the early years had a small enough crowd that they could get the audience to dance along with them. Oh, how I miss the Hoopla Hustle:

They haven't done it since 2008. The crowds got too big for the audience to dance along (as you see in the video, there's movement involved).

Then, in 2011, they moved the venue to a new stage in front of the Chinese Theater. I mean in front of the Sorcerer's Hat (so there are now TWO things blocking the Chinese Theater during Star Wars Weekends, but that's a discussion for another time).

You'd think the stage would make a huge difference. It's elevated, so now people can see, right?

Well, no. The problem is that the ground is on a grade here, and it slopes down as you get further away from the stage. Thus, the further away you are, the LOWER you are. This is not good. It generates poor sightlines for everyone who is not in the very front row (hence, people now line up two hours before showtime, and there is only show per day).

Because no one else can see, desperate parents put kids on their shoulders, which just ruins the view for everyone else. Desperate photographers and videographers, some sporting monopods and similar equipment, also hoist their gear up high. Also blocking the view.

I'm 5-foot-11, and this photo was taken by raising my own camera above my head - temporarily - and shooting blindly. I'm located about thirty rows back from the front:

Kids on shoulders to the left of me, kids on shoulders to the right of me, and a raised-up camera in the middle. My own kids had no hope of seeing the show. Even I could not see as well as the shot you see here. Here's another shot from the same show, same location, but taken with a different lens (and again with the camera help up over my head, shooting blindly):

We starting holding our spot at 6:15 for the 8:00pm show, and those thirty "rows" back was the best we could do.

They need to move the venue. At a minimum, they should turn it around so that it is on the other side of this plaza (near the tip board) and FACING the big hat, so that way the ground slopes in everyone's favor.

But they might as well move the show to a real theater: Indy, Beauty and the Beast, or even Fantasmic (the former Hunchback theater is configured for celebrity talk shows during Star Wars Weekends). I know the Hoopla uses fireworks and thus the other theaters might not be optimal, but I'd rather they tweak the fireworks (or have none at all) than continue with the unfriendly way it's shown now.

In the short term, they could also experiment with an operational fix: make an announcement via the speakers that "for everyone's safety, we require that children not sit on parents' shoulders."

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.