A good reader email suggestion just popped into my box:
Why not move Adventurer's Club to DAK proper? I know it was to be part of Night Kingdom, but with that project presumably dead, could DAK take on A.C.? Maybe this could be a way to keep DAK open later. It helps that both AC and DAK are Joe Rohde projects - he has the pull to get this done, one assumes.
An announcement that this is in the works would generate a LOT of goodwill for the company right now. "Based on guest feedback..." Turning lemons into lemonade can be a good remedy to a tough situation.
Slightly off-topic, but relevant to this discussion: Does anyone know if they still teach the concept of the "loss leader" in business school? I'm not being sarcastic, I really am curious to know if it's still an acceptable business practice.
I think they should keep the Adventurer's Club open. I have never been, but I know it is super popular. They could move it to DAK as suggested, but that would be expensive. Just charge admission at the door. This lets Disney make Pleasure Island into a family friendly area, but leave something for adults to do too. It is a unique place that should stay.
I don't drink and would need a babysitter, so the Pleasure Island clubs are not my thing when I go on vacation to WDW. I would however like to go inside the Adventurer's Club as the theming seems really cool. Maybe Disney could make it into a restaurant or something to make it more family friendly?
Its funny because the first time I heard that PI was closing I was sad because my friends and I have always had fun there. However, when I really think about it the 2 nights we have actually spent 3-4 hours there will probably not be missed. I think that if we didn't have the "plus" option on our tickets that got us free admission we never would have gone in the first place. I did enjoy dancing at 8Trax and the Comedy and Adventurer's Club on both visits. My friends and I love dancing though and as 4 single woman at WDW we are easily able to spend one night dancing, drinking and hanging out with the requisite morning after sleep in. If I were there with my children I probably wouldn't even bother with PI.
On the topic of the Adventurer's Club, I know what you mean about "not getting the joke". The first time we went there we had a fabulous time. The audience was made of mostly visitors and there were also no children. The last time we went there were a ton of locals that were so annoying! They kept yelling things out and kind of ruined the show for us. It was almost like they thought they were "cooler" than everyone else because they knew all the lines and had beena million times. Trust me. These people were not "cooler". At one point my friend looked at me and said, "Is this how we act as Disneyland locals?" I certainly don't think so.
I also was interested to see so many children in there, especially when I felt there were definite adult themes throughout the show.
I'll miss Adventurer's Club in particular, and hope the great performers at that club and Comedy Warehouse land on their feet. I do agree that the club concept is based on trendyness and it should be no surprise that the ship has sailed for the Pleasure Island idea. Surely the decision makers must have tried to find ways to save the two most popular clubs and simply could not arrive at a feasible solution.
Like the Disney Institute, which "closed" without really "closing" but nonetheless is no longer what it was intended to be, Pleasure Island was a poster child for the "Disney trying not to be Disney" that was rampant in the previous administration. The grand irony was that the most popular programs at Disney Institute before its sort-of-closing were the most uniquely Disney-type offerings (animation, horticulture, photography, etc.) and the most popular, most missed parts of Pleasure Island will be the Comedy Warehouse and especially Adventurer's Club. I'm just saying.
WDW is losing a treasure. Both the Adventurers' club and Comedy Club were great shows. I particularly loved AC, and always made time to see it during a trip to WDW.
I have to also discuss what is "Disney values." I believe that the company has strayed from Walt's values. He said repeatedly that he did not make films to appeal to children, but to the child within all people. He also said that he made Disneyland not as a place for kids to be amused but for the whole family to have fun together. As Disneyland grew, there came to be special areas of Disneyland that did not particuarly target kids. Walt was not ashamed of "Date Night" at Disneyland. He brought in bands that appealed to Teens and their special time of life.
I believe that Walt saw that Disneyland could appeal to all ages. And to do that there must be some attractions that targeted special groups, like teens. In the early years, right after Walt's death, Disneyland hosted bands like Roy Orbison and Boy George. The Disney management run by people who worked with Walt were not afraid to reach out to new audiences.
WDW, with its enormous space, can be a place that can offer special experiences for target groups.
What went wrong at PI? Part of it was just the same problem for the WDW parks, there have been few updates. Instead of seeking to expand the options of clubs like Adventurers' club and Comedy club, they did little new and added no extra experience. Locals soon stopped coming because nothing was new.
PI is a vision of what the Parks could be if Disney does not continue to add and improve entertainment options in each park.
Jiminy Cricket Fan
After all the disheartening losses the past years in Southern California theme parks, I am actually glad I've never been to WDW. Losing these things always hurts and sometimes it's good to have never been to a Disney park, especially in this day of decline by degrees. Maybe when theme parks start building themselves back up it will feel like I'm missing out, but recently it's felt relieving to not be familiar with these parks.
The whole concept of having a collection of night-clubs and expecting them to generate consistent repeat customers without becoming tired is flawed. This isn't really a problem unique to Disney, it just seems that Disney thought they were immune to it.
Take a look at Vegas for example (though this is probably the only time I would ever compare WDW to Vegas), it seems there is a constant stream of "reinventing" clubs to keep things fresh. The newest place is only new for so long, before people stop coming and move on to find somewhere else. The club closes (maybe a year or two later), and something new opens in its place. It's a constant cycle.
Disney did do its share of reinventing some of the clubs at PI over the years, but on a much longer cycle, and probably wasn't prepared to rebrand a club every couple years or so to keep people (especially the locals) coming back for more.
As for the Adventurer's Club and Comedy Warehouse, they seem more to be collateral damage from a failed overall concept than anything else.
While I also enjoy some nightlife, I suspect that MOST theme park guests just aren't into it.
If PI suffered from anything, Videopolis might provide a clue: Fatigue and datedness. The concept simply hung around too long in one form; aside from rabid fans like myself, there was no new draw - think of how upset everyone gets if the Magic Kingdom doesn't get a new attraction every so often. PI really didn't offer anything new for 20 years. Plus, PI didn't keep up with what its target audience was looking for in nightlife. There was never a Karaoke club (a la CityWalk's new one), never an "ultra lounge" of the kind so popular in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, and Miami, and so forth. There are probably a lot of nightlife concepts that could have been brought in to keep the place fresh - Disney never elected to do that. I'd also argue that the PI marketing plan was always a bit off - until I went there for a conference event one evening, I never understood what the heck I was expected to do there. Timing was certainly an issue - look at all the people now saying, "I always meant to go down there but never did." Exactly.
This probably the most brilliant summation of what was wrong about PI.
When I first went to PI with my sister and parents about 2 years after it opened, I wondered to myself the same thing as a 20 year old college student - what exactly was I expected to do there? As far as I knew, PI was a bunch of clubs, and here in LA, the idea behind clubs is you go with a group of people you know and flirt with women. Being with my family certainly put a damper on that spirit. If you aren't going out to meet people, then at the very least you are there to People Watch. I'm sorry, but people watching is not fun if nobody is arriving at the clubs decked out "to be seen". The people who are fun to watch are the singles who have dolled themselves up to look FABULOUS. The people to watch are the ones who have are regulars, who have dance moves that they practice every weekend. You need those people - without them, all you have his a bunch of tourists staring at each other with loud music.
Mannequins tried to jump start the people watching by hiring professional dancers to "liven up" the club, but they were always removed above the area with the commoners. Sometimes the wait staff at the clubs provided some of the "eye candy" - in Las Vegas clubs, they regularly have "hired guns" who jump start the popularity contest and make the crowd look a bit more hip and encourage even more people to dress the part. I'm not sure if Disney ever did that in the early days of PI, but it's an unspoken part of the nightlife business - new restaurants hire hot waitresses and hostesses to "liven up" the atmosphere.
Ultimately though, the crowd that loved Videopolis and made it exciting is the same one that abandoned it after it became mostly gawkers. Nobody wants to feel they are going to a club to put on a show for free, and there is nothing that kills that enthusiasm when you feel like YOU are the only person wearing risque clothing while a bunch of families are there to gawk at you.
It's quite possible Disney could do the club concept again, and try to copy the various formulas that appear to work as nightlife around the country. In general though, clubs tend to lose money on average. Because for every hit club that rakes in the money for a year, there are many others who through no fault of their own just didn't attract the critical number of cool patrons that created positive buzz.
The question is - should Disney be even attempting to replicate this success on their property, or even with their own brand name? I don't know. They certainly can provide family dance entertainment if they want to - witness Carnation Plaza at Disneyland. It's been having swing bands every Saturday night for decades and young swing dancers still mix with the old folks who were young when big band was still popular. It *can* be done, but maybe it doesn't make money. Carnation Plaza hires live bands and the dancers don't buy anything beyond their park admissions, but I seriously doubt there are enough of them to pay the band's fees. But it's a critical piece of "atmosphere" that makes Disneyland's hub just a little bit more lively. The people dancing there aren't trying too hard to look cool, and the people watching don't feel like they are intruding on a scene they don't belong to. Maybe Disney can find some mix like that for Downtown Disney.
I'm just glad to see such a rational discussion about PI, and particularly the Adventurers Club. Much nicer than the rabid foaming at the keys that's taking place on many fansites for the past few days.
I wasn't a regular of the AC, but I did enjoy a visit now and then. I was also put off somewhat by the regulars and their participation in the schtick. My first time there was with local friends who just wanted to sit for hours and take part in all of the routines that come up over an evening. After about 90 minutes I'd had enough and just left them there. I guess I'm not really a club person - I go drink, I have enough, I go home.
The last time we went there were a ton of locals that were so annoying! They kept yelling things out and kind of ruined the show for us. It was almost like they thought they were "cooler" than everyone else because they knew all the lines and had beena million times. Trust me. These people were not "cooler". At one point my friend looked at me and said, "Is this how we act as Disneyland locals?" I certainly don't think so.
We have a few threads on that very subject. (Nothing recent, though.)
"Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."