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  1. #1

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    7/3: The Party's Over

    Kevin on Walt Disney World shuttering its nightclub district; discuss it here...

    DIRECT ARTICLE LINK: http://miceage.micechat.com/kevinyee/ky070308a.htm
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Good article, Kevin. I am in the same boat as you when it came to the Adventurer's Club.

    How much of this is also tied into the long-term success or failure of the Dining Plan? You have written much on how the restaurants are filled. This will get more dining seats that Disney will hope to put on the Plan, and then drive traffic to the West Side. This will then help the profitability of the shops, hopefully increase traffic to La Nouba, etc.

    PI was a nice idea when it opened, but when I was last there in March, it had definitely lost some of its charm from the first time I visited it about 15 years ago.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Kevin spends the entire article talking about the fact that PI is not making money and the core Disney audience does not go there.

    He then states that the loss of this area and its conversion to something folks do want and will go to is a "decline by degree".

    How is removing something folks don't want and giving them something they do want a decline? Sure PI may end up being just an extension of the outdoor shopping and dining already at DTD, but if folks are saying they want more shopping and dining options and Disney is giving it to them then it is a good thing.

    Giving paying customers more of what they want and bringing the area into compliance with Disney's core values is not a decline.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Quote Originally Posted by Imagineerfan View Post
    Giving paying customers more of what they want and bringing the area into compliance with Disney's core values is not a decline.
    Good discussion topic. Maybe I'm trying to do the impossible here, but I was hoping to "thread the needle" on this point:

    It *is* a decline in the sense that we've lost something unique, and the experience is lessened a little bit. At the same time, it may be a *justified* decline, if closing the clubs means re-alignment with the core values.

    As I said in the article, I'm a little conflicted on this myself, and still largely on the fence.

    As for the Dining Plan: excellent point. I wish I'd thought of it for the article. I think you're right; that must surely be a part of the larger thinking here.
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    At first I was disappointed that the clubs are closing, but I'm not into the whole Adventurer's Club or whatever it's called as I do enjoy nightlife.

    But since PI wasn't doing much good for Disney overall, I don't feel as bad now that it's shutting down. It makes sense that it doesn't fit into the whole Disney feel, or even the Disney idea. You don't think of techno, hip-hop, country, and 70's music combined with the associated drinking and dancing when you think Disney.

    But more shops? Ugh, maybe because I'm not into shopping and not into how much crap is sold in Shopping Malls that I don't care for the shops to pop up. I understand though, merchandise makes money. I can't think of what WDW is missing though that they should add something instead of more shopping experiences, if you wanna call it that. Maybe more restaurants, but there's only so many restaurants a place can have before they start hurting each other.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Pleasure Island is a strange thing. The idea of a place for adults to go for an evening a varied entertainment is terrific. The execution at first was really pretty nifty. Lots to chooses from, something for everyone, festive midnight celebration! It was great, when I was in my twenties without kids. But, I have to admit, after a couple visits, it stopped being one of those places I HAD to visit. I lost interest in many of the clubs and just stopped going. As they closed various clubs and the Empress Lilly, I was done with it. And then when the WEST SIDE opened, it was just in the way. So, I can understand why Disney wants to close it all down and start again. I'm not sure why they don't keep the Comedy Warehouse and Adventurers Club tho. Both places would thrive in a new atmosphere. One where a new family audience might drop by. I imagine that a bunch of stores no one will want to shop in as well as more restaurants will open in their places. And I will just continue to not go there.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    I see why Disney wants to close PI.
    I can also see that closing the Adventurer's Club goes with that. Honestly, could it stand on its own? Maybe not.

    But this comes back to the fans. This is Disney and it is unique. Sometimes being Disney its worth continuing things on to not alienate the fanbase. You alienate the AC fan club and they'll never visit what replaces it. Just look at the whole Mr Toad thing 10 years later. You cannot find the Adventurer's Club any place else.

    I guess I would have expected them to phase things out instead of throwing the whole island out at once. I would expected (liked?) them to give the Adventurer's Club fans a chance to show thier support for the club to have Disney consider keeping it.

    But this also comes back to Disney's locals v. Floridas. Floridas locals might come out over more days of the week, as opposed to just Friday & Saturday like Disneyland. But there are just not enough of them to justify having things just for locals. My guess is a local fanbase in CA would have a better time keeping thier favorite club open.

    People always argue the whole "not enough locals to do HMH and IASW Holiday is crap" argument...but if the tourists didn't show up to PI, and the locals didn't come in enough numbers, then perhaps that argument has some more merit now.

    Of course the Star Wars Weekends and Food & Wine show that the locals can show up just fine for events they like. So maybe it is time for PI to go. I won't consider it a total loss. But I will miss the Adventurer's Club, and I think sometimes Disney needs to consider thier fanbase in these decisions.

    Well, we know they do. They do when they know they can make a "remember when?" merch series and get all of us fanboys to buy the pins. :sarcasm:

    PI = no loss.
    Adventurer's Club = loss.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Great article, Kevin.

    Now that Disney - and you - have raised the whole issue of the validity of Disney's nightclub offerings, I'd be interested to discover what other readers think about Disney's night-time entertainment zones around the world.

    I went to Disney parks as a kid and have continued to go into my twenties, but have felt for some time that their night-time activities are a really cheesy, low-rent aspect of the offering.

    Pleasure Island these days isn't a fraction of what it was from my memories as a child. When I visited last October it was practically a ghost town, and while the Adventurers Club definitely had its following, it was hardly busy and the cocktails were nauseatingly bad.

    At Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort it's okay because the main activities outside the parks are simply shops and restaurants, so Disney is not trying to over-reach into the more tricky area of boozing and nightclubbing.

    But at Disneyland Paris it is truly abysmal. I've just returned from what must be my seventh or eighth trip to Disneyland Paris and their "Disney Village" (once upon a time the "Festival Disney") is undoubtedly the grimiest, ickiest iteration of the Disney nightclub concept.

    They have a Wild West Show which is really good, and they have a tethered balloon which is actually quite beautiful - I predict it will be a hit when the equivalent arrives at WDW. But the nightclubs (open only to hotel guests or guests paying a fee) have been empty every time I've visited, and all the outdoor entertainment / sideshows (bucking broncos, how-hard-can-you-hit-the-hammer machines etc) are exactly the kind of cheap trash Disney usually seeks to avoid. On top of all this they show soccer on giant screens, which tends to draw quite an unseemly crowd. If you think what Disney does at Pleasure Island leaves something to be desired, wait until you've seen it redesigned by the French, German and British. And I say this as a European myself.

    I'm not a Universal fan but it is my opinion that their Citywalk offerings in LA and Florida are superior to the Disney nightclub efforts around the world. I'm a Disney fan who would like to party by night. I don't mind the idea of there being nightclubs, even bars around the Disney property. But they just can't seem to be able to get it right. Will it ever be right?

    Finally I'd like to ask where Videopolis fits into all this. There was a Videopolis at Disneyland and one still remains at Disneyland Pris, albeit with a Lion King overlay. Wasn't Videopolis designed to be a dance club aimed at teenagers? Was it a failure?

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    On 3 visits to WDW, we've been to Pleasure Island once, for about 2 hours. We hung out in Raglan Road for a bit, got a Bucket O' Booze at the outside bar and that was it. Didn't go to any clubs or anything.

    So for me ... even though I would have liked to try Adventurers Club one day, not a big loss.


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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    I really enjoyed this article Kevin. I think you weighed this issue extremely fairly and I'm glad you didn't just rant about how terrible Disney is for closing PI.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    A shame, as I quite enjoyed Adventurer's Club the one time I went.

    It might make sense on paper, but I share the concern that another unique Disney attraction is closing. I don't shell out the dough to go to WDW for more shopping, but I guess some do.

    There are always going to be some shows and attractions that aren't hugely popular or profitable, but they add to the overall charm that is WDW. If they close anything that doesn't fit into the narrow definition of what a Disney attraction should be, the resort could feel too harmoginized.
    My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:http://micechat.com/14795-disney-wonder/

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    If PI isn't making money - and I've little doubt that's true - then of course you close it.

    However, in trying to analyze Disney's other possible motives, Kevin (hopefully) makes some errors. For example, that the Adventurer's Club isn't universally popular isn't a reason to close a place - Mannequin's isn't universally popular, nor is 8 Trax (Kevin does point out that although the A.C. isn't his cup of tea, that's no reason to necessarily pull it). Hopefully Disney realizes this, and the lack of universal popularity wasn't a factor.

    More upsetting is the idea that everyone at Disney must be families containing children, and that everything offered by Disney must appeal to that market. There are many non-traditional families - mine, which is child-free, for example - who love visiting WDW multiple times a year. In my family, we're all grown up - so why can't we enjoy a nighttime adult-oriented venue? Simply because "the families" don't approve of its ethics? That such a place simply can't exist because it encourages people to drink and cut loose? What a horrifying thought. Such a motive would eventually eliminate Jelly Rolls as well, not to mention the Food & Wine Festival. While Walt's original Magic Kingdom may have been a place where Daddy and his girls could enjoy themselves together, WDW is a big enough place to provide entertainment for a much broader range of families. Hopefully, "family approved" wasn't a reason behind PI's closure.

    Hopefully, Disney was simply doing the right thing, and closing an underperforming business unit that's time had passed. And doing so is not a "decline" by any stretch - not until we see what they do with it.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Quote Originally Posted by horseradish View Post
    Great article, Kevin.
    I'm not a Universal fan but it is my opinion that their Citywalk offerings in LA and Florida are superior to the Disney nightclub efforts around the world. I'm a Disney fan who would like to party by night. I don't mind the idea of there being nightclubs, even bars around the Disney property. But they just can't seem to be able to get it right. Will it ever be right?

    Finally I'd like to ask where Videopolis fits into all this. There was a Videopolis at Disneyland and one still remains at Disneyland P[a]ris, albeit with a Lion King overlay. Wasn't Videopolis designed to be a dance club aimed at teenagers? Was it a failure?
    While I also enjoy some nightlife, I suspect that MOST theme park guests just aren't into it. I think the way to have saved Adventurer's Club would be to extend the concept into a restaurant, making it more accessible to a broader audience - while keeping an attached bar for the smaller nightlife crowd.

    I think Disney NEEDS to conquer the nightlife issue, if only on a small or on-demand scale, mainly to continue attracting conferences, events like "gay days," and so forth. And I think that's the key: Not trying to run a full PI-sized venue year-round, but rather running it on-demand and on a smaller scale. Think BoardWalk, for example, which admittedly has its own issues, but with the right plan could definitely take over from PI for the smaller nightlife crowd - without impinging on the family-friendliness (??) of Downtown Disney as a whole.

    As for Videopolis - it was incredibly popular in Disneyland in its day. Popularity waned, and as teens lost their manners over the years it became more difficult to operate, so eventually it closed. WDW was going to have "Videopolis East" as part of PI - I believe the original roller-arena venue (that existed where Rock 'n Roll Beach Club sat) came from the Videopolis concept.

    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.

    I'm disappointed for the loss of an attraction I really enjoyed, but I'm not one to hold onto things as sacred - times must change. What's more confusing for me is the point Kevin makes about Destination Disney - is Disney really giving up on the nightlife? Are they really comfy letting people leave property, or are they confident that nobody will. E.g., "if we can't pack 'em in at night, it's because they don't want nightlife at all, so they won't leave in search of it?" It's such a departure from the usual passion to keep everyone on-property at all times.

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    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.

    Edit: I should nave noted that the above paragraph is not a quote - that's my rephrasing of the emailed suggestion.
    Last edited by KevinYee; 07-03-2008 at 08:25 AM.
    Kevin Yee
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    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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    Re: 7/3: The Party's Over

    Quote Originally Posted by swrdfghtr View Post
    What's more confusing for me is the point Kevin makes about Destination Disney - is Disney really giving up on the nightlife? Are they really comfy letting people leave property, or are they confident that nobody will. E.g., "if we can't pack 'em in at night, it's because they don't want nightlife at all, so they won't leave in search of it?" It's such a departure from the usual passion to keep everyone on-property at all times.
    My guess would be they are thinking to re-align the Destination Disney idea to mean specifically for families. They still want folks there and spending money on Disney, but at the Disney mall rather than at a Disney club.
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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