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Mark My Words

Pleasure Island (June 1, 1989 - September 27, 2008)

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
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
As Camelot.

Goodbye, Pleasure Island. I'm going to miss you.

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  1. Drince88's Avatar
    Aww, bummer. I never did make it over to the Adventurer's Club (we did try last October, but it was closed until much later due to a private party). That's one I'm going to have to continue to kick myself about, since I'm not going to make it back before September.
  2. Fantasmicgal's Avatar
    That really stinks. I'm so glad that we will be there the week that PI closes, although it will be sad to see the Comedy Warehouse go, we have spent several wonderful nights there laughing our .... off. Stupid, stupid move on their part. I can understand closing the clubs except AC but not my Comedy Warehouse.
  3. carolinakid's Avatar
    Great blog, Mark. My boyfriend and I were great fans of 8Trax. We so loved dancing there and just enjoying the party atmosphere. So we're getting more shops and restaurants! Big whoop! So what are folks like us going to have to do now when the parks are closed early and you don't WANT to eat or shop and you're not ready to turn in? I guess just hang at the lounges, but we could certainly do that if we stayed in Jersey! I'm majorly disappointed with this...

  4. bqool's Avatar
    I am bumming! Pleasure Island and especially the Adv. Club are such a great night time diversion while staying at WDW. To read that it will soon disappeer into memory with the likes of River Country and Horizons is just, well, SAD. I'll have to rent a car on our visit and leave The World and drive all the way to Universal Citywalk to have some fun. In actuality, I will most likely cut our trip in half and move to some other Florida option outside of Disney for the remainder of our trip with the loss of PI and Adv. club. Currently, it is part of the ticketing add-on "Waterparks and MORE" what will the "More" part of that ticket become now? It was always such a big part of our vacation. Say bye bye to my $$$$$$$$ Disney.
    The fun Disneylike effects, puppets and animatronics,(which are not the standard Disney Characters,which is also a nice diversion) in use throughout the Adv. Club creates such a special place. Plus, the fact those said effects interact with the club members whom entertain us and audience is so freakin' cool and one of a kind! I mean Kungaloosh, already!
    Shopping and dining, shopping and dining... we do not need any more shopping and dining options at WDW. There are plenty in the theme parks and resorts to choose from along with those already on PI and in DTD.
    I understand the teens and young adults are into the "Thug" scene, not only that frequent PI but Nationwide. It is just a marketing ploy by the music and fashion industry that the teens had their parents buy for them and young adults have bought into as well and it is harmless. They are just people/kids, much like those that have bought into the Disney marketing ploy. Sigh Don't we all just want to have some fun in our lives?
    The decision has been made and announced by Disney, there is no saving PI and ADV Club is going away forever. Hold on to those memories or quick! go make some before September's closing date!







  5. maleficent82's Avatar
    It's kind of crazy, I'm actually going to be there the weekend they close. I'll try and hit up as many places, and take as much video as my camera will handle, so I can share the end with whomever would like to see it.
    I remember when I was a freshman in college, and I couldn't wait to be old enough to go into all the clubs at PI, as I had family members at the time working in PI. When I finally was old enough and had the chance to go, it was pretty open to whomever to walk through, and it didn't seem as big of a deal. I have yet to go into anywhere besides Mannequin's, but will try to hit each and every spot during my ten days down there.
  6. msmarcusj's Avatar
    Ouch. I've been going to Pleasure Island since 1998 (10 years now, it's hard to believe). This really hurts. "More demand for shopping and dining, less demand for nightclubs"? Do they make this stuff up? Pleasure Island has always been hopping.

    So why can't they just relocate it? Rebuild it somewhere else? I've tried CityWalk a few times, but it just isn't as good!