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Last call at the Adventurers Club

Last call at the Adventurers Club

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10 o'clock in the morning is very early. Particularly when you've just spent the previous night attending the Adventurers Club's next-to-last night of operation. Where many of the performers broke into tears during Friday night's Hoopla. Or -- at the very least -- broke character. I mean, It was genuinely hard not to mist up when that evening's Emil -- just before he launched into "Bessie the Heifer" -- choked up as he said: "I can't believe that this is the very last time I'm going to sing this song."

But I was determined to be a part of PI history, be among the handful of guests who actually got inside and experienced what the Adventurers Club was like during the last night that it was open to the public. But when I arrived at the top of Hill Street, I found that 50 or so fans had actually gotten there ahead of me and were already camped out in front of the Club. With some seated under umbrellas in an effort to beat the 85 degree heat.

Photo by Max Schilling

As morning gave way to afternoon, the line behind me got larger & larger. As did the fretful bunch of Disney suits, PI managers and Security officers who were keeping tabs on this crew. Who were clearly concerned about how they were going to handle the crowds once the Club opened around 6 p.m.

Now where this gets interesting is -- throughout the afternoon -- past & present Adventurers Club cast members kept showing up. Not because they were there to get ready for that night's shows. But -- rather -- because they wanted to see for themselves the hundreds of people who were standing there in line. And then realize that what they did clearly meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people.

An off-duty Emil & Otis pose for pictures as they survey
the crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Photo by Max Schilling

In the end, it was probably a good thing that I got to PI as early as I did. For the doors to the Adventurers Club opened at 5:45 p.m. And just 25 minutes later -- after every guest had been personally greeted by Pamelia Perkins & Samantha Sterling as they entered the Club -- this PI nightclub reached capacity and was then forced to close its doors. And I'm told that those who were stuck outside at 6:15 p.m. then weren't able to enter the Club 'til 12:30 a.m.

As for what went on inside of the Adventurers Club that night ... Well, it was a truly historic occasion. With Otis Wren -- after 19 years of dreaming & scheming -- finally winning the Balderdash Cup.

Photo by Max Schilling

Not to mention long-MIA AC staffers like Marcel the gorilla / butler and oft-mentioned-but-never-before-seen Adventurers Club members like Sutter Bestwick making an appearance.

Sutter Bestwick is the one on the left.
Photo by Max Schilling

Even behind-the-scenes personnel got the chance to stand in the spotlight Saturday night. Below you'll see Sheila Ward & Tim Goodwin -- the two WDW cast members who've spent the most years performing at the Adventurers Club -- paying tribute to Jim Roberts, the hugely-talented-though-long-unseen piano player who's portrayed "Fingers" Zambese at the Club for the past 13 years.

Sheila Ward (L) and Tim Goodwin (R) hold up Jim Roberts'
fingers. (Get it?) Photo by Max Schilling

And as for the final show of the night ... There were so many moments in the Hoopla that first made you laugh and then kind of broke your heart. Like Emil Beelhall's acoustical guitar version of Jonathan Coulton's "When You Go." Which starts off with this far-too-appropriate lyric:

Only a moment ago we had nothing but time
Everything lasted forever and you were all mine
Only a dream I know
Thinking you’d never go
Tearing off pieces of myself
Just for the time it buys me 

Photo by Max Schilling

After that, the entire cast (Which was super-sized for this one evening. With four French maids, Emil Bleehall Junior & Senior, not to mention Madam Zarkov) gathered onstage for one final photo op.

Photo by Max Schilling

And then -- to the strains of "When the Saints Go Marching In" -- these much-beloved cast of characters all marched off into the night. With Pamelia Perkins simultaneously tearing up and blowing kisses as she left the stage.

Photo by Max Schilling

Here's hoping that the storyline that was floated on Saturday night actually turns out to be true. That the Adventurers aren't going to be gone forever. That they're just heading off on a year-long safari (Which is being paid for by Marcel. Who -- thanks to smart investments -- is now a filthy-stinkin'-rich ape). Eventually to return to Walt Disney World with all sorts of all-new stories to share.

In short, being on hand for the Adventurers Club's grand send-off was a hugely entertaining if often bittersweet occasion.

Your thoughts?

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  • You know, my ass hurts from kicking myself. Kicking myself for never staying at the Adventurers Club for an entire evening. I've only dropped by for small visits. I've laughed and enjoyed myself.  But I've never gotten the entire experience.  For the last month I've been looking at other peoples pictures and videos.  I've enjoyed them all, but they started my foot on this month long process of kicking myself. I'll never get to have the full Adventurers Club experience. I figured I'd do it SOMEDAY. As if it was going to be there forever. YOUCH.  There goes my foot again.  I can't blame anyone for my own procrastination.  It isn't Disney's fault that I never hung out for six hours or more.  But, I still can't help but wonder about the sense of closing THAT club. Why not charge admission to it?  Why not just let it be part of the NEW area? Why not at least TRY it?  Well, I certainly hope these last weeks have gotten the Disney suits to realize what a mistake they are making.  And I'm hoping their asses hurt even more than my own.

  • Last time I went to Disney, in december '99, I was finally old enough and had enough English to enjoy AC. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about it, so didn't care to go in. I chose Comedy Warehouse instead. If I'd known how entertaining it was... Well, here's hoping these last few weeks made some kind of difference for the Suits.

  • Friday and Saturday were sad days on property. Lots of tears were shed for the closing of (what feels like) all the shows on property. I don't know, today I woke up feeling pretty strange and dare I say it, empty? Maybe it was because I was in Woody's Cowboy Camp or just really enjoyed AC, but this really has impacted me.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a touching article. I'll miss this era in WDW history.

  • Thanks aeronaut,

    I plan on writing a much more detailed article over the next few days... that was about all I could muster after multiple days of virtually no sleep and a full day of sunstroke ;-) Watch this space for a longer article coming soon... I also want to figure out somewhere to post the 2500 or so pictures I took over the last few days of the AC so I will hopefully be getting to that soon as well...

    - Max

  • I have never been the type of person to send in complaints to companies. That was until last week when, after visiting the AC for the last time on Thursday, I couldn't let my anger just die down. I'm not naive enough to think that a letter to Iger or Crofton will do anything, but I just had to let them know that I, an annual passholder, was really pissed off at them and it would be a very long time before I would ever look at WDW the same way.

  • You would think that Disney would just move the Adventure Club over to the Animal Kingdom or something.  The two go very well together, IMO. Perhaps they might consider this?

  • Rumors abound among WDW cast members -- some Mr. Hill may know and have already reported. Of course JHM reported that a new AC was part of the "blue sky" concept for the Night Time Kingdom. Some cast members have said they "heard" the Comedy Warehouse might re-open at the Boardwalk.

    Regardless, the closing of TAC is indeed heartbreaking. Night after night the cast put on an extraordinary show -- unlike anything else in Central Florida.

    Fare thee well!

  • By the way there are already "last nights at the Adventurer's Club" clips on You Tube!

  • I've been looking on Youtube and there don't seem to be anything from the final night... I'd really like to find some video from the final hoopla for posterity sake... Does anyone know of any final night videos?

  • Hmm...if there's a possibility of the Comedy Warehouse making its way to the Boardwalk, they could always consider putting the Adventurer's Club at the Animal Kingdom Lodge...

  • I've heard talk of moving both to resorts but they're still trying to figure out how they can make money.  Lost in all the protests and hubbub is the fact that neither club was making back its operating budget, even after the extra attention.

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