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Will WDW's Adventurers Club soon be "marching along" to a new location somewhere else on property?

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Will WDW's Adventurers Club soon be "marching along" to a new location somewhere else on property?

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Today may be Valentine's Day. But when it comes to Pleasure Island, it's clear that Disney World management has little love left for this once wildly popular night-time entertainment complex.

Want proof? Then let's talk about PI's Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club, which closed its doors back on February 3rd. Now I know that there have been rumors bouncing around the Web that the Mouse is considering gutting this live music venue so that it can then build a cosmic bowling alley. You know? With the glow-in-the-darks balls & pins and dance music and such?

Well, if that ever really was the plan for Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club, it ain't the plan now. Earlier this week, word came out of Lake Buena Vista that Mickey is writing this PI facility off. Which is why -- in order to contain costs -- Disney just cuts off the building's electricity as well as turning off the water that used to flow into this night club.

So now that the Beach Club has gone to Rock 'n' Roll heaven, Pleasure Island continues its downward spiral. Which began back on New Year's Eve 2005, when the Mouse pulled the plug on PI's long-running "Every night is New Year's Eve" promotion. That move -- coupled with the closing of the Pleasure Island Jazz Club as well as the demolition of both the West End & Hub Stages -- turned PI's once-lively streets into a virtually entertainment-free zone.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Oh, sure. There's live music to be heard inside of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant as well as fun watersports-related items available for purchase inside of Curl by Sammy Duval ... But these new restaurants & shops represent a significant departure from what Pleasure Island used to be. Which was a highly themed collection of quirky night clubs.

These days, PI's remaining clubs are on the endangered species list. As Mickey whittles away at what once made Pleasure Island unique so that this area can then conform to Downtown Disney's new battle plan. Which will transform this corner of the WDW resort into a faux big-city environment that's " ... alive with excitement, unique shops, restaurants and entertainment!"

So where once WDI's main concern was making sure that this Disney Village Marketplace expansion area was as quirky as possible (hence the Island's whole Merryweather Pleasure backstory), now Disney's goal for PI is improve its sightlines & flow-thru. Which is why a footbridge to the West Side as well as a water taxi dock were added to this section of Downtown Disney early last year.

But for those of us who remember what Pleasure Island was like in the early 1990s, it's been kind of tough watching this once ambitious entertainment complex spin in. Seeing one-of-a-kind eateries like the Fireworks Factory slowly give way to ridiculous Rainforest Cafe clones like T-Rex.


 Photo by Jeff Lange

But let's be honest, folks. The handwriting has been on the wall for quite a while now. When PI's Disney-cast-members-get-in-free night changed from "Thursdays Only" to "Thursdays & Mondays" to "Sunday through Thursday" to what it is today (i.e. Any WDW cast members with a valid ID can now get in free to this night club complex seven days a week) ... It's pretty obvious that Pleasure Island isn't nearly as popular as it once was. Which is why some changes clearly have to be made.

Which brings us to the Adventurers Club. Perhaps the most quirky of all the clubs found on the Island, the AC is much beloved by tens of thousands of WDW visitors. Who would surely raise holy hell were the Mouse to ever try & close its doors.

And yet -- if Mickey is to proceed with its slowly-kill-off-all-of-PI's-nightclub plan, so that Downtown Disney can then be one continuous span of " ... unique shops, restaurants and entertainment" -- the Adventurers Club really does have to close its doors someday soon.

Or does it?

What if I were to tell you that -- come 2011 -- the Pleasure Island version of the Adventurers Club will be closing? Only to then be reborn somewhere else on property in a much grander manner? Where the Club would then serve as the gateway to a brand-new type of Disney theme park adventure?

Intrigued yet? Come back tomorrow and I'll give you the full details.

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  • Pretty sad...  I remember plenty an evening at PI in my CM days.  In fact, my wife "picked me up" at Fireworks Factory back in the day, so we have a pretty good attachment to the place.  Of course, AC was/is  my favorite hangout, so I'll be interested to see where this story is leading.  Kungaloosh!

  • Hmm, sad. I grew up going to WDW, and always wanted to go to PI with my friends. Sadly, by the time I went on my first "non-family" trip in January, the place was in the sad shape it's in now. My favorite clubs were always The Comedy Warehouse, and the AC, so I'll shed a tear if they're removed. And, I really am intrigued by the end of that article, I certainly hope you won't leave us hanging Jim...

  • I wonder if it would be part of a re-do for Adventure Land. That would make sense since there is rumors that they want to give it a make over to compete with HP at IOA. I am looking forward to hearing what Jim has to say.

  • I have to say. I walked through Pleasure Island once...and never set foot there again.

    I thought it was loud, obnoxious, cheesy, tacky and completely out of place for WDW.

    I didn't make it into the Adventurer's Club, which looks very cool, but the rest of it was a disaster in my eyes.

    I remember hearing how Walt had such a disdain for what happened on Harbor Blvd. in Disneyland, cheap tacky shops and restaurants, a honky tonk sort of atmosphere. To me that describes Pleasure Island.

    I was completley taken out of my "vacation mind" and couldn't wait to leave. There was some awful rock cover band playing on the outdoor stage. I couldn't get out of there quick enough.

    I'm an avid concert goer and am completely used to crowded, drunken, smoke filled environments. I don't go to Disney for that. Raze the whole island as far as I'm concerned.

  • Admit I'm intrigued, which was the whole point of a teaser like this,  but skeptical the AC could work anywhere outside of a PI/Church St Station context.  I don't see it working as a "full night attraction" nor in an alcohol-free environment like Adventureland.  Still, curious to see what the plan is, and if it ties into the latest rumors of a "nighttime" park.

    And I personally think the downward spiral began when they tore the entrance gates down.

  • Let's face it ... like Jason said, PI became a disaster as soon they stopped charging admission and let anybody through the door.

    The last time I was there I felt like I had stumbled into some seedy section of downtown Miami. It was overrun with small-time thugs, wanna-be gangsters, and just generally seedy looking people overall. It was just about the most un-Disney like experience I've ever had on Disney property.

    Personally, I'll be fine if they get rid of all the clubs and such. There are plenty of nice bars and restaurants scattered around the property for those that want to indulge during their trips. Personally, I'd much prefer an evening at Jellyrolls over dealing with that lowlife crowd at PI anyway.

    I'll be interested to see what Jim has to say tomorrow, though. My personal hope has been that Disney would avoid the temptation to open a 5th gate at WDW. The resort is just too big as it is and impossible to staff with anything approximating decent cast. I can only hope they go the way of something more like Discovery Cove, where the cost structure will enable them to hire people at something more than minimum wage.

  • Based on the teaser and others comments, I could see the movement in a few different venues.:

    1. If there is a redo of Adventureland, then this could be where the original rumors of the Tortuga could just be a transplant of this aptly themed club (although that would be a real copout IMHO)

    2. Possibly an addition/expansion in AK since they are talking about a nighttime parade and other attractions to add to this park to make it a "full day" experience.

    3. There were rumors floating around about Discovery Island and a Pirate based experience at one point. This might be a good place to relocate the club along with the resort expansion in this area. (this would be a more boutique/Discovery Cove type venue)

    4. Maybe an addition to DS as part of Lucasland, where the Adventurer's Club would play into the Indy theme (given that ID4 is on the way)

    5. The most unlikely option would be Epcot where they could fold it in between two existing countries (there are some smaller open areas). The theme could very loosely tie in to the experience of going on a "world tour adventure" and since this is a more adult oriented venue it fits into the direction that WS has gone with more upscale resturaunts.

    Just my musings, which are all probably wrong anyway....

  • I suspect #3 is the closest to the truth ... I've been hearing rumors for years that Rasulo was interested in getting into small, highly themed, boutique-style theme parks. That Discovery Island rumor has been around for a good while.

  • I have an idea for Pleasue Island. Just take all the stuff that's being removed from DCA and dump it in Florida LOL! Then change the name from Pleasue Island to Disneys Florida Adventure. OK enough joking around here. Jim has Disney made anything public about plans for the old River Country site?

  • Isn't it interesting that, little by little, the temporal monuments of a seemingly indomitable but nonetheless exiled Disney regime are being taken down. And quite quickly, too. I can't help but picture a final scene in the Twlight Zone episode "The Little People" in which a statues were taken down. (http://www.tv.com/the-twilight-zone/the-little-people/episode/12678/recap.html)

    Pleasure Island always seemed to be one of the symbols of a Disney that tried to be something it shouldn't have been. That said, I must add that the Adventurer's Club is perhaps the only club on the island that seems to follow the Disney tradition of providing something unique, rather than copycatting whatever a competitor is doing up the street.

    Let's hope that if there is any change that the talented people who work there (and at Comedy Warehouse) -- some of whom have been there for many years and have a fan base themselves -- are able to ply their noble trades elsewhere on property.

  • If PI is doing so bad why is it impossible to find a parking spot anywhere near it???

  • I cannot wait to hear the second part of this story. AC is one of my favroite places in the world. As long as they do not turn it into anything other than a bar, I'm in. I agree with most of the posts here. I also cannot stand most of PI. The AC and the Comedy Warehouse are great, but the rest is pretty lame.

  • jables: it's 'cause it's free parking!

    In spite of efforts to curb it (which don't seem that strong), people can park there for free and sneak onto a hotel bus (and/or carpool) to get to the real parks for free rather than paying the parking costs at each one.  It's that typical trade-off - is 15 minutes on the bus worth it to save $15+ in parking (I'm guessing at that price; I have no idea having done the magical express when I went).

    As for evening/night parking, well the rest of DTD is still a draw, from the restaurants to the movies and Cirque du Soleil.  Just 'cause PI and DisneyQwest aren't that big anymore doesn't mean the rest of DTD isn't "working".  In fact, what Jim's describing is just that - the "nightclub" scene isn't working anymore but more traditional/typical restaurants with a *slight* twist (Raglan Road, e.g.) DO seem to be working (that pub was for me - we went 3 times in a week, sometimes just for the drink and music, once for the excellent food).

  • Firstly, PI is going more towards the dining/entertainment experiences (Raglan Road is a concept to build upon - however I find their over-priced drinks and mealy food...sorry, I wasn't impressed...are there to draw the money...a $ 25.00 shot of whiskey [Red Breast] when I can buy the whole bottle for $ 29.00 leaves a lot to be thought about...the music, however, is dynamite...).  Does this mean Comedy Warehouse and AC will get the boot?  I am not sure, but, not foreseeable.

    As for a re-location of AC -wherever it is, the club will have to be open late (after most park hours) and have plenty of alcohol flowing to boot.  This keeps it out of the MAgic Kingdom altogether, and, generally outside the gates of most parks as well.  That being said, the idea of an attachment off the new Animal Kingdom DVC village is an interesting concept.  Same with an extended attachment of Studios.

    The point ofthe interactive park has been around for decades as a use for Discovery Island.  That started wtih Myst, went to Lost, then Pirates.  The problem with that is access....and, operational hours.  DI is, relatively, a small plot of land (overall) and a boat back and forth doesn't seem a totally efficient way to handle the numbers such a club would bring...especially for the night time hours.  Speaking of those night hours, it makes more sense that an entertainment and drinking establishment would do better on the main land as well.

    Jim teases with the fact that this could be part of the entry way to a "whole new park"...good point.  But, that remains to be seen.  

    Until the things are built and up and running, everything is speculation.  

  • I feel sorry for Beach Club, on cast member nights (03/04) we used to go there because there was never a wait at the bar.

    I always used to feel sorry for cover band that played there every Monday, singing 'Brown Eyed Girl' to a hand full of drunk College Programme Participants.

    That said I have fond memories of that quirky bar, I liked the pool tables and arcade machines.  I like the fact that it used to be a Rollerskating Bar, I mean that place was massive inside.

    RIP Beachclub.

    And RIP the Jazz Club while I'm at it.  Sometimes the best places on property are the places that are always quiet, and you can get away from it all.  Obviously Disney doesn't think like that.

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