Pleasure Island (June 1, 1989 - September 27, 2008)
by, 06-27-2008 at 07:48 PM (4887 Views)
Among my first thoughts when I heard the news (aside from "we've need to make sure that we go during our August trip") were the final words of the original Planet of the Apes: "You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
I'm a little calmer now (just a little), so maybe I don't condemn them as sharply as George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) condemned the human race in the classic science fiction film. Still I think of what Pleasure Island was like, how it was slowly killed in the guise of trying to make it more competitive with CityWalk, and I just have to shake my head in disbelief as one of the truly unique places at Walt Disney World will soon be no more.
For those that haven't heard, as I first reported as a rumor back in late 2005, Disney is going to close all of the six remaining clubs on Pleasure Island on September 27.
Of course, it's not like we didn't see this coming. I wrote a column on some of the problems that had been cropping up at Downtown Disney last July. We revisited the topic on the MouseStation Podcast back in January. The path to ruination of Pleasure Island was set years ago. You can read the article and listen to the podcast; I'm not going to rehash the problems here.
I'm not much for dancing, so while 8Trax, Mannequins and the like were fun to stand around and watch for a while, it's the Adventurer's Club and Comedy Warehouse that I'll personally miss the most. I've spent way too many nights enjoying those clubs, sometimes drinking a bit, sometimes just a little. I've been pulled on stage at the Adventurer's Club, had my yelled suggestions used at the Comedy Warehouse and had a friend of mine receive the opening phone call at the Warehouse and completely outplay the cast member on the other end. Those two places were true Disney magic.
I remember when the late, lamented West End Stage was host to live performances with a major stage show at midnight every night counting down to the "new year." Every night was New Year's Eve on Pleasure Island, and it felt that way with the festive environment. Then things changed.
Free and open admission to the Island allowed everyone, including underage folks, admission to the area, taking away the "specialness" and adult party environment. As that strategy backfired, all repair efforts just seemed to accelerate the pace. Local parents would drop their kids off at PI to hang out, rather than being at a local mall. How is that a special and party-like environment for adults?
Well, they finally decided to kill it. First they crippled it, and now, like a racehorse with a broken leg, they're going to put it down. Eight Belles, meet Pleasure Island.
It used to be one of the things that I looked forward to the most in a trip to Walt Disney World. I'll have to convince my son that he wants to go to one of the kids clubs one night during our August trip so that my wife and I can go back one last time and enjoy the Radiothon and Hoopla, see one last improv show. In fact, if we didn't have a family commitment that weekend, I would fly down to Walt Disney World the weekend of September 27 to be part of the final farewell.
Even though it's not what it once was, I'm already very sad to be saying goodbye to Pleasure Island. To steal the closing lyrics from the reprise of "Camelot":
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
Goodbye, Pleasure Island. I'm going to miss you.