Home » 5 Unique Pleasure Island Experiences We’ll Never Stop Missing

    5 Unique Pleasure Island Experiences We’ll Never Stop Missing

    The back story was told in plaques

    Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island closed for good on September 27, 2008. But it really died long before that, when then-management decided it would be a great idea to build the West Side. With admission-free shopping and dining on both sides of the Island, guests naturally complained about having to walk around the gated attraction to visit the free stuff. So management responded by opening up Pleasure Island as a walk-through, with admission charged only to get inside the clubs. This move killed the entire theme, opened up trouble with local teens who showed up for the free outdoor concerts, and marked the beginning of the end.

    Today, we take a look back at Pleasure Island’s glory days. Some of these things lasted until the bitter end, while others died long before. Here are 5 things we miss about Pleasure Island.

    1. Discovering Merriweather Pleasure’s incredible backstory

    The back story was told in plaques

    The back story for Pleasure Island was highly imaginative and intentionally ridiculous. As the story went, explorer and visionary Merriweather Pleasure purchased the Island in 1911 and founded a hugely profitable canvas-making and sail-fabricating empire. With the proceeds, he indulged his twin loves of scientific experimentation and world travel.

    Unfortunately, he was lost at sea while attempting to circumnavigate the Antarctic in 1941. His sons took over the empire, but mismanagement led to a 1955 bankruptcy, and Hurricane Connie largely destroyed the Island that same year. The Island and its remains were discovered by archaeologists in 1987, and Disney decided to reclaim it. In 1989, it opened as a nightclub complex honoring Merriweather Pleasure with the motto, “Fun for All, and All for Fun!”

    This ludicrous yet entertaining back story was explained via “historical plaques” at the entrances, while plaques on each building explained what the building originally housed during Merriweather’s time. Some of the plaques survived until long after Pleasure Island closed, but many were removed during various renovations while it was still operational.

    2. Kungaloosh!

    Adventurers Club Image - Raul654, Wikimedia Commons

    The Adventurers Club was nearly indescribable. The premise was that it was a 1930s social club for explorers and world travelers. The outer rooms held small shows featuring animatronic masks and other treasures. Every hour, a different main stage show took place inside the Library, with various adventurers telling the tales of their exploits.

    One of the greatest things about the Adventurers Club was that it was highly immersive improv theater. The actors mingled with the crowd and often acknowledged individuals in fun and unusual ways. For example, I stepped in one night wearing ripped jeans and combat boots, along with an eyebrow ring. Curator Fletcher Hodges immediately thanked me for crawling on my hands and knees just to get to the club—as evidenced by the missing fabric on the knees of my pants. He then asked me to share my story of the fight I had with a fish hook, and how it got embedded in my eyebrow.

    Kungaloosh was both the official greeting and the official drink of the Adventurers Club. Many people have fond memories of both, slurring the greeting as they reached the bottom of the glass. It was introduced to new guests as part of the theme song, sung repeatedly throughout the evening as part of the New Member Induction.

    3. Forbidden Disney

    Comedy Warehouse Improv Image - Raul654, Wikimedia Commons

    Most people remember the fantastic improv show at the Comedy Warehouse. Building on suggestions from the audience, the talented cast created shows that could easily rival television’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? But far fewer remember what used to take place inside the Comedy Warehouse during the early days.

    Forbidden Disney was the first time Disney publicly spoofed itself. A 45-minute musical extravaganza making fun of everything from classic characters to long lines for attractions, it was both one of the most popular shows Walt Disney World has ever done and one of the most polarizing. Those who loved it, really, really loved it. But those who were opposed made their opinions heard loudly and clearly. Thus, the Forbidden Disney Wars began.

    The show was in a constant state of flux as management and writers tried to push the envelope as far as possible without going over the edge. Eventually, it was deemed too controversial and scrapped altogether in favor of the improv show.

    4. Rotating dance floor and drunken roller skating


    Mannequins Dance Palace was a rite of passage for many Pleasure Island fans, as it was one of the only over-21 clubs, and by far the trippiest. Bizarre lighting, techno-trance music, and a full complement of both real and human mannequins turned the place into an underground-style nightclub that always seemed more East Village than Walt Disney World. But the rotating dance floor was arguably the best feature. The later it got, the drunker the clientele, the more pileups on the edge of that floor. It was great for people watching!

    But the rotating floor at Mannequins had nothing on the original idea for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Club. In its early days, it was known as the XZFR Rockin’ Rollerdrome. Hey everyone, let’s go get drunk and strap on a pair of roller skates! What could possibly go wrong? It closed for obvious reasons less than a year into Pleasure Island’s existence. The Beach Club kept much of the same theme, but turned the skating rink into a shoes-required dance floor.

    5. Videopolis East

    8TRAX was cool, but Videopolis East was one of a kind

    For those of us who came of age at just the right time, Videopolis East is indelibly embedded in our teenage memories. When Pleasure Island opened in 1989, it was an odd mix of adults-only (Mannequins) and family-friendly (most other clubs, where children were welcome with a parent). While adult supervision was required on most of the Island, Videopolis East was a teens-only hangout. It got its name from the original Videopolis, then a Fantasyland music venue inside Disneyland.

    A no-alcohol nightclub with new wave music, 170 video screens, and a dystopian futuristic theme represented by strange machinery, Videopolis East was suddenly the coolest place in town for local and visiting teens. I met the cast of the 1990s Mickey Mouse Club there a few times, as well as kids from around the world. Still, the middle of an adult-oriented, gated nightclub complex might not have been the smartest location for a no-alcohol teen club.

    Videopolis East closed in less than a year and was replaced by The Cage. Same nightclub, same premise, but now those under 18 had to be accompanied by an adult and the club sold alcohol. That lasted until December 1992, when it closed to become the adults-only 8TRAX, playing the best of the 1970s and 1980s.

    Did I leave out any of your favorites? What do you miss most about Pleasure Island? Let us know in the comments!