15 May 2017

Magicians Lounge

In 2015 I had the absolute pleasure of being able to visit the Magic Castle as a guest of friend who is also an incredible magician. The experience was, to put it mildly, one of the true joys I’ve experienced in my life. It’s no wonder then that when Disney announced a watering hole for magicians would be coming to BoardWalk I was over the moon. I was finally able to pull up a stool at AbracadaBar in April and pull back the curtain on the atmosphere, cocktails, small bites, and lingering magic of the establishment. No sleight of hand here, just our honest opinions!

From the outside, this neighbor to Flying Fish definitely looks like a headline attraction. I mean, it even has its own marquee! The billing on the windows and in the signage is on point and enticing for anyone looking for a magical moment or two. Once inside, there is a plush, old-school Victorian lair feel going on, right down to the tiled restrooms that feel like vintage dressing rooms that are right off stage. Display cases filled with magical artifacts, framed relics and ephemera, a variety of mirrors, and posters cover much of the walls and spill over into the shelfs behind the bar. The wall spaces that aren’t covered up offer glimpses of a rich red and gold wallpaper that includes hidden card suits, rings, ropes, birds, rabbits (Presto), and other signs of craft. Short of the Memento Mori wallpaper in the Spirit Photography room, the AbracadaBar wallpaper may be my favorite on property, and there is an argument to be made for it to be at the top of that list.

The posters highlighting magicians and their acts, prior to the night of their mass disappearance, are of particular note as they are an illusion unto themselves, but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own.

Moving on to the menu, there’s not a lot to talk about here, but in this case that’s a great thing. This isn’t your typical Walt Disney World lounge, as the food offerings are limited to a series of small bites. There are marinated olives, a fruit and cheese plate, and a charcuterie plate.  We opted for the fruit and cheese plate, which comes with two cheeses, cheddar and Boursin, and a selection of berries, jackfruit, and kiwi. The thin slices of toast included with the fruit and cheese plate are the real stars of this act, with great flavors embedded in the bread and as part of the olive oil drizzled over them.

The beverage menu is extensive, including Baffling Beers, Worldly Wines, and Curious Cocktails. There is a wide selection of beers and wines, many with names that play well into the magical theme of AbracadaBar, which is wonderful to see such a selection in a Walt Disney World lounge. As for the cocktails, while the names are imbued with clever wordplay, and we all know how much I love that, they are truly just your staple cocktails. I opted for the play on the Old Fashioned called the Parlor Trick. AbracadaBar doesn’t try to play down this fact, and puts the more well-known names in each beverage’s description, but they do create each with a high degree of skill. I don’t need a fancy concoction that is almost impossible to recreate at home, but I do appreciate a well-crafted cocktail, which AbracadaBar is more than willing and able to offer.

So far, so good, right? Let’s talk about where AbracadaBar lets me down. There are a lot of ways to include small illusions into the workings of the establishment that seem to have either been left on the drawing board or never considered. Sinking barstools, a face in the mirror, instruments that play with seemingly no musician, and the like that are similar to other effects used throughout attractions and restaurants. Walt Disney World, and the Disney name as a whole, is known for their ability to create illusions in their films and physical environments, many times producing groundbreaking effects that the world has never seen before. And yet when it comes to AbracadaBar, an establishment perfectly suited for incredible effects, there is nothing here to astound the magically inclined. There was so much potential to create a show-stopping magicians lounge, the likes of which could put Trader Sam’s to shame, and it just doesn’t live up to the billing.

My hope is that Disney is always learning new tricks and that maybe they can clean up their act at AbracadaBar. It has a wonderful atmosphere, adequate small bites, great fundamental cocktails and other beverages, but it is simply missing that something magical. In my wildest dreams this would have been a smaller, more intimate east coast Magic Castle, and that potential is still there. As with all things in the magical arts, all AbracadaBar needs more of are some great new illusions, coupled with some of the classics, and then practice, practice, practice.

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