Walt Disney World Pleasure Island in the Glory Days of 1991

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney History, Disney Parks, Features, Imaginerding, Walt Disney World

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Published on February 17, 2014 at 2:00 am with 13 Comments

Let’s take a look back at 1991 Pleasure Island! I ran across a great YouTube video and captured some screen shots of some pretty amazing details. I covered the Disney Village Marketplace earlier from the same YouTube user (check out the post, here) and wanted to share some amazing images from Pleasure Island. 08-pleasure-island I grabbed some descriptions from the 1991 Steve Birnbaum Brings You the Best of Walt Disney World. The History of Pleasure Island

Although Walt Disney World is not otherwise noted for its historic antecedents, a recent “discovery” may Change all that. lmagineers tell us that right beside the Empress Lilly at the Disney Village Marketplace, an island was recently unearthed where an enterprising, larger-than-life 19th century ship merchant, one Merriweather Adam Pleasure held court. Though the merchant sailing trade was in a decline at the time of his residence, the upsurge of leisure yachting assured the success of Pleasures Canvas & Sailmaking, lnc. The booming business spawned Pleasure Island, a community developed to abet Mr. Pleasures pursuit of adventure and excitement. So the story goes. . . and continues. According to local legend Pleasure turned his entire operation over to his sons while he circumnavigated the globe, but he was lost at sea in 1939. Pleasure lsland soon fell into disrepair due to the neglect of his lazy offspring. Enter Disney Imagineers, who have transformed the abandoned lofts, warehouses, and factories into an entertainment Complex of nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and movie theaters.

Check out the episode of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™) in which Jeff and I discuss the history of Pleasure Island in extreme detail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6KL8CKqwOg

XZFR Rock & Roll Beach Club 09-xzfr

A novel combination of dancing, dining, and the beach awaits guests at this establishment, which, legend has it, was once a wind tunnel and laboratory where Pleasure secretly developed a unique flying machine. The dance floor is located on the lowest level of the building, while rollerskating waiters ad waitresses circle overhead on the second floor. Live bands perform hits from the 1950s to the present. The band plays 45 to 50 minutes of each hour, and a deejay takes over during the breaks to offer uninterrupted musical entertainment. The atmosphere is a little frenetic, but nonetheless exciting. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are also available on the first level of the Orbiter Lounge.

010-breeze-way

The Breeze Way! There were a lot of stairs at many of the clubs during the first few years. Sadly, intoxicated people do not do well with stairs.

Jessica’s of Hollywood 011-jessicas-01

A novel character shop where the merchandise is themed around the vampish Jessica Rabbit of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

012-jessicas-02   13-jessicas-door I love how the staff only door looks like Jessica Rabbit’s dressing room!

Yester Ears 14-yester-ears

The enormous surge in popularity of Disneyana collecting inspired the Walt Disney Company to reissue the line of old-time Disney merchandise found here. Dolls, puppets, posters, clothing, and figurines of Mickey, Minnie, and Donald in their earlier incarnations are on sale. Worth a stop if only for the nostalgic feelings the goods inspire.

15-yester-ears-tshirt How amazing is a simple t-shirt with the Yester Ears logo?

Cage 16-cage

Pleasure Island’s newest club also is its oldest. Puffs of white smoke filter outside luring curious visitors in to hear European hits and other new-wave and alternative music. There is an underground feel to the place, and video screens are everywhere. Guests must be 21 to enter.

Mr. Funnmeister 17-pleasure-island-funnmeister I took the following photo in August, 2010 and it was one of the last Mr. Funnmeisters on the island. Check out this great Parkeology article on the the different incarnations of Mr. Funnmeister. mr-funnmeister

The Intersection of Lombard Court and ? 18-pleasure-island-lombard-court Can anyone tell me what the street name was on the sign?

Comedy Warehouse 19-pleasure-island-warehouse-02

Set in the former plant that generated the power for all Mr. Pleasure’s island enterprises, this club features a comedy troupe that performs five times each evening from 7 P.M. to 1 A.M. There are five comedians and one musician. It’s a very funny, entertaining show that features improvisational comedy based on audience suggestions. Guests perch on stools in a tiered arena so every seat offers a good view., even if the stool are a little tough on bad backs. Popcorn is the snack of choice, and specialty drinks, beer, wine, and soft drinks are all available.

20-pleasure-island-comdey-warehouse-02 You can see the whole video here:

http://youtu.be/jMwUBS3mFig
 

Did you get to experience Pleasure Island during its first years? Any great memories or photos?


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ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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13 Comments

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  1. The intersection sign reads “Lombard Court” and “All Deaf”, according to my official CSI home digital forensics kit.

    • Hah! Great answer!

  2. It’s sad to say we have lost Orlando’s Church Street Station and it’s successor Disney’s Pleasure Island. Both were brilliant entertainment complexes. It would have been great to see Bob Snow, Church Street Stations creator who some WED Imagineers and people like myself, claimed he did Disney better than Disney, join with Disney Imagineers and see what they would have come up with as was an option. Almost all of those minds no longer exist at Disney, but they are still around.

    • That’s an interesting thought. I do wonder if vacationers would take advantage of something like Pleasure Island. The locals might, though.

  3. The old Pleasure Island was amazing and I really miss it. It was certainly designed to make money, but the experiences never felt like I was in Retail Hell. That’s not the case anymore…

    • The changes have been extremely drastic. I do miss the first incarnation of Pleasure Island.

  4. Really enjoyed this article George!

    Many memories of a (formerly) really vibrant area of WDW. I wonder what ever caused the actual death of it? Was it really crowds and attendance or was it out of fashion? If I recall correctly, it was mostly supported by locals? Perhaps the population is just not as invested in nightclubs anymore due to drinking and driving laws and such. Or is it possible that CityWalk won the nightclub war? I don’t know, so I’m just guessing.

    Great to have a look back at this unique area. Thanks.

    • Country Bear- I don’t think it worked well with families. After chasing kids around parks all day, I don’t think mom and dad were going to score a babysitter and party the night away.

      I think (sadly) corporate restaurant tenants and retail are probably more profitable in the space. It really is a pity… the idea of Disney trying to apply immaculately themed entertainment to offerings beyond theme parks and hotels was very interesting.

      • bhb007 – I agree. Once Disney started the Dining Plans and forcing people to spend more time eating, it might have been inevitable.

    • Thanks, Country Bear!

      I’m not sure if we’ll ever know. Maybe it was just a change that happened so gradually.

      If you look at the first few years of the Village, I don’t think it would survive today, either.

  5. I believe the sign says Hill Drive.

  6. I always liked the back-story for PI. Wonder if they will try to come up with a story for the newly themed shopping area?

  7. “Retail Hell”. Yep. That pretty much describes it.