Established September 1999
Library of Congress ISSN:1533-0753
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by Joan L. Feder
AllEars® Staff Writer
Join us on our monthly journey into the past as we step back in time and explore the history of Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company. This time we travel to September 2008 when the night club lights of Pleasure Island went out for the last time.
Pleasure Island opened on May 1, 1989, in the area that is now The Landing at Disney Springs. According to Disney legend, Pleasure Island was developed by 19th century shipping magnate Merriweather Adam Pleasure, and included factories, warehouses and lofts. Pleasure was lost at sea in 1939, and his lazy sons soon ran the island into the ground. Imagineers repurposed these empty buildings into a nighttime entertainment area aimed mostly at adults.
Pleasure Island was initially a ticketed attraction with shops, movie theaters and night clubs. The area went through many changes over the nearly two decades it was open. Over the years, several of the night clubs’ themes were revamped. By 2004, an admission ticket was no longer necessary, guests could wander the Island, paying to get into each individual club instead. In 2005, Pleasure Island’s renowned nightly “New Year’s Eve” fireworks, which began in 1990, came to an end. Finally, on June 27, 2008, Disney announced that Pleasure Island would be reimagined.
The night clubs at that time included Motion, which featured music videos, the BET Soundstage Club, an R&B/hip-hop dance club, and 8TRAX, which had a 1970s and ’80s theme. Three of the original clubs also remained: The Mannequin Dance Palace, with its revolving dance floor and human “mannequins”; The Comedy Warehouse, home to the satirical musical, Forbidden Disney (“SuperConcientiousFriendlyDisneyWorldEmployees” anyone?); and finally, a 1930s British explorers’ society, the beloved Adventurers Club. Packed with artifacts from its members’ journeys, it featured live performers, audience participation and audio-animatronics. Guests were greeted with an exuberant cry of “kungaloosh,” a multi-purpose word that was also the club’s signature drink.
Despite an online petition that garnered 2,750 signatures in 72 hours, the Adventurers Club closed, along with the others, on September 27, 2008. That evening, a capacity crowd enjoyed live entertainment and one last “New Year’s Eve” fireworks show. By morning many of the clubs’ signs were painted over or removed. The area was slated to become “Hyperion Wharf,” a warehouse district with an early 20th century nautical theme, set to open in 2013. Instead, it became the central area of Disney Springs and reopened in April 2015.
Pleasure Island is gone, but the Adventurers Club lives on in several locations. Its tribal masks are at the Explorers Club at Hong Kong Disneyland. References to the Adventurers Club can be found at both Aulani in Hawaii and the Polynesian Village Resort. The Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom has a display case of fezzes worn by the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (a topic for another day) including the one owned by Merriweather Pleasure. They also give you a chance to sound like a member of the Adventurers Club once more — just order their signature dessert, which goes by the name of Kungaloosh!
Each month, we like to share a few heart-warming Magical Moments brought to us by the amazing Disney cast members!
Tina: Our family had a multi-generational Disney trip in June. Our ages ranged from 19 to 76, and we had a great time. On day four of our eight-day vacation, we had advanced dining reservations at one of our favorite restaurants, 50’s Prime Time Cafe. We had reservations for 2 p.m., but weren’t seated until 2:30. The manager came over and gave us two free baskets of onion rings and offered an apology. No problem, we were a party of 10 and understood with that large of a party there were bound to be some delays. The manager then returned with 10 Fastpasses for us to use at any park (with a few ride restrictions) any time during our stay. Needless to say we were extremely happy with our treatment at the most Magical Place on Earth!
James T.: On a recent trip to the World, our group had reservations at Teppan Edo. Our extended family was a group of 17 adults and children. The staff at Teppan Edo was incredible. Our group consisted of adults, teens, pre-teens, and five children under the age of 6. They managed to seat us at the same time with tables facing each other. I feel the task of taking drink orders, fielding a hundred questions, and keeping the young ones occupied and happy was beyond what I expected. Smiles never left the faces of the staff. Kudos to the manager, Kimi, who orchestrated all of this without missing a beat. This was at the beginning of our stay, and made a positive impression for the rest of our family vacation.
We just bet you have a story to tell about an unforgettable moment during your Disney vacation! Please send your favorite memory for inclusion in a future AllEars® to our Contact Us page.
Thank you all for sharing!
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