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Pleasure Island was a nightclub complex at Downtown Disney that opened in 1989 and closed in September of 2008, with the area re-developed as The Landing at Disney Springs. Despite the name, it is not related to the island of the same name from Pinocchio, instead featuring a unique storyline that was related on various signs on the island.

Backstory

Pleasure Island was an abandoned industrial waterfront district that was converted into a nightclub complex. The property was originally owned by one Merriweather Pleasure, a seafaring adventurer, who, during the nineteenth century, operated Pleasure's Canvas and Sailmaking, Inc. His business become the heart of Pleasure Island, a place to which daring adventurers from all over the globe came to tell their incredible tales.

But Merriweather was not a landlubber at heart, and hearing these stories made him long once again for adventure on the high seas. One day, he heeded the haunting call of the bounding main, and set sail from Pleasure Island. Upon learning that their father was lost at sea, Pleasure's two lazy sons abandoned the business. The once bustling waterfront district was left to decay beside a mysterious lagoon. Years later, the near-ruins of Pleasure Island were rediscovered by adventurous Imagineers with their own incredible tales to tell.

These Imagineers refurbished the island, turning its run-down warehouses into exciting restaurants and nightclubs that were designed to reflect the original themes of Pleasure's functional buildings. Once again, the district bustles with the activity of world travelers who come together in the spirit of fun and adventure; a tradition established here a century ago.

The Island's backstory would be elaborated upon by the Pleasure Island Histerical Society plaques found all across the island.

Surviving attractions

Restaurants

  • Paradiso 37 — A North, South and Central American restaurant named for the 37 countries located in those areas, and includes a food court section as well as an upscale tequila bar. It features a focus on dishes famously sold by street vendors in those countries. This restaurant is managed by E Brands, and was the first new restaurant to open from the Pleasure Island renovations which began in 2008. It is located in a building which formerly housed shops and a fast food restaurant.[1] Dishes include sandwiches, steaks, chicken, and an extensive appetizer menu.[2] Paradiso 37 opened on June 4, 2009.
  • Portobello Restaurant — An Italian restaurant patterned after an osteria. It opened with the clubs in 1989. Portobello Restaurant was known as Portobello Yacht Club until renovations in late 2008.[3]
  • Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant — Operated by Great Irish Pubs Florida. It opened in October 2005, replacing Merriweather's Market and the Pleasure Island Jazz Company.

Shopping

For many years, a number of small shops and boutiques were located between the Adventurers Club and Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club. Many of these shops closed in March 2006 as part of the renovation of the island. However, Disney has begun to reintroduce selected stores on the island.

  • Curl by Sammy Duvall — A surf-themed retail establishment operated by Florida-based water skier Sammy Duvall. Curl opened in 2008, replacing Superstar Studios.
  • Fuego by Sosa Cigars — A cigar bar which opened in 2007, located near the center of the island.
  • Orlando Harley-Davidson — A "gear shop" operated by Orlando's Harley-Davidson franchiser. It opened in 2005, located near Raglan Road.
  • Walrus Pit

Former attractions

Shopping

  • Superstar Studios — A long-time "make-your-own-video" studio which was replaced by Curl by Sammy Duvall in 2008.
  • Jessica's - A store featuring exclusively Jessica Rabbit merchandise from the 1989 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which opened in 1991 and closed in 1992. A two-sided, thirty-foot neon sign of Jessica Rabbit with a swinging leg and moving sequins hung over the building until the store's closing. In 1993, the sign was relocated to the West End Stage where it resided until 2006.

Restaurants

  • Fulton's Crab House — A seafood restaurant which has been operated by Levy Restaurants since March 10, 1996. It originally opened on May 1, 1977 as the Empress Lilly. The head chef was Frank Walason. Was replaced by Paddlefish in 2017.
  • The Empress Lilly — An authentic recreation of a 19th-century paddle steamer boat in Rococo (Louis XIV) style. It was operated by Disney and named in homage to Walt Disney's's wife Lillian. Upon becoming Fulton's Crab House, the boat lost its paddle wheel and smokestacks. It was divided into four separate restaurants and lounges, including the Baton Rouge Lounge, Steerman's Quarters, Fisherman's Deck, and the Empress Room.
  • Fireworks Factory — A pyrotechnics-themed restaurant operated by Levy Restaurants. According to the island's fictional backstory, Merriweather Pleasure manufactured fireworks in the building until one of his cigars caused an explosion. The restaurant was decorated with authentic pyrotechnic props from the Grucci family. It operated from 1989–1997, and was replaced by the Motion dance club.
  • Merriweather's Market — A food court that operated from 1989–1993, and was replaced by Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in October 2005.
  • Planet Hollywood - It was a Pleasure Island attraction when it opened in 1994. In 1998 it moved to West Side. In 2017 it was replaced by the Planet Hollywood Observatory.

Entertainment

  • 8TRAX — A 1970s and 1980s themed dance club. It closed on September 27, 2008. The club opened in 1994, replacing:
    • Videopolis East — Opened in 1989, playing new wave music on 170 video screens. In 1990 it was renamed Cage, adding more progressive music before closing in 1993.
  • Adventurers Club — A 1930s-style British explorers' club that featured a staff of flamboyant characters portrayed by improv actors. The club closed on September 27, 2008.
  • BET Soundstage — A hip-hop and R&B dance club operated by Black Entertainment Television (formerly BET Holdings Inc). It closed on September 27, 2008. The licensing agreement with BET Holdings Inc. was created before Black Entertainment Television was purchased by Viacom in 2000. The club opened in 1998, replacing:
    • Neon Armadillo — A club featuring live country music bands, it operated from 1989-1998.
  • Celebrate Tonight — An outdoor dance party featuring DJs and cast members known as the Party Team. Focused mainly on families with children, it opened in early April 2009 and closed on June 26, 2010. It took place in the large brick expanse between the former Comedy Warehouse and BET Soundstage, an area renamed Celebration Plaza.
  • Comedy Warehouse — A nightclub which featured an improv comedy troupe. It originally featured a parody show called "Forbidden Disney". The club soon attracted a large return audience. The move to the improv format after a couple of seasons was made to keep the show fresh. The club closed September 27, 2008. The comedy troupe would reunite for several holiday shows held at Disney's Hollywood Studios from 2011 to 2016.
  • Mannequins Dance Palace — A techno-trance multi-story dance club which featured a revolving lighted dance floor. The club featured nightly light shows with synchronized music and live performances by human "mannequins". The club closed on September 27, 2008.
  • Motion — A dance club which featured Top 40 music videos. It closed September 27, 2008. The club opened in 2001, replacing:
Fireworks Factory
Wildhorse Saloon — A country music dance club and BBQ restaurant which opened in 1998 to capitalize on the country/western dance craze at the time. It was operated by Levy Restaurants and Gaylord Entertainment Company, which also operated a Wildhorse in Nashville, Tennessee. They eventually sold their interest in the building back to Disney, and the venue closed in 2001.
  • Pleasure Island Jazz Company — A club featuring live jazz musicians which opened on August 27, 1993. It was replaced by Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in October 2005.
  • Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club — A rock-themed dance club which featured live bands (usually local cover bands). It closed on February 2, 2008. The club opened on April 4, 1990, replacing:
    • XZFR Rockin' Rollerdrome — A short lived club where guests could strap on skates and dance to rock and roll
  • West End Stage - A stage used for events every night. The roof of the stage was torn down in 2009 and most of the stage was taken to the Disney Boneyard with small parts intact. It was replaced by Celebration Plaza in 2009.
  • AMC Pleasure Island 24 - In April 1990 these theaters opened as a Pleasure Island attraction but in January 1998 AMC became a part of West Side. The name was changed in 2010 to AMC Theaters Downtown Disney 24.

References

  1. Bevil, Dewayne (Mar 5, 2009). E Brands Orlando Sentinel Archived from the original on 2009-04-10. Retrieved on 2009-06-06.
  2. "Paradiso 37 menu". WDW Magic Retrieved on 2009-06-06.
  3. "Portobello Restaurant Official Website". Portobello Restaurant Retrieved on 2010-09-28.
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at Pleasure Island (Downtown Disney). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Disney Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.


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