Legend has it (Disney “Imagineering” legend, that is) that sometime in 1911 industrialist, inventor, and bon vivant Merriweather Adam Pleasure debarked his Mississippi Riverboat at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and claimed a small island as his own. Here he created a bustling enterprise – Pleasure Canvas and Sailmaking, Ltd.
Buildings quickly sprouted. Dominating the skyline was the Canvas Fabrication Plant, Sailmaking Factory, and Administration building. Smaller shops made up Chandler Row – a brass foundry, upholstery shop, tool crib, and graphics shop all for lavish, unique yacht ornamentation.
Later, a library was built and became the headquarters for globetrotter Pleasure’s Adventurer’s Club. In 1924, Pleasure sent to China for the latest in pyrotechnics and built his fireworks factory. Finally, to contain his collection of desert flora, he built an elaborate greenhouse.
Merriweather Pleasure was lost at sea in 1941 and his island of industry soon fell into neglect.
More than forty years later the Disney Imagineers discovered the wreckage, worked a little magic, and, viola, from the ashes arose Pleasure Island, a nighttime hot spot with nightclubs, eateries, shops, a 10-screen movie house, and non-stop entertainment. Each of the original buildings has been refurbished to house the ultimate in after-dark excitement.
A wind tunnel for flying machine tests became the XZFR Rockin’ Roller-Dome, complete with roller rink encircling the disco dance floor below.
Mannequins (once the cavernous warehouse for canvas and sewing equipment) showcases live and animated mannequins mingling with dancers on a unique turntable dance floor.
At Pleasure’s Adventurers Club, guests encounter outrageous storytellers, mysterious characters and the quirky memorabilia they’ve collected on their world travels.
The greenhouse is now the Neon Armadillo Music Saloon, for country-western fans.
Then there’s Videopolis – dancing to contemporary sounds for the under-21 crowd, and the Comedy Warehouse.
Dining on the Island ranges from gourmet – the Portobello Yacht Club and Empress Lily Riverboat – to barbecue at the Fireworks Factory. There are also fun-food “grazing” stands under one roof.
And don’t forget movies, movies, movies at the AMC Theatre – 10 theatres, seating from 200 to 500 each.
Pleasure Island is open to all for shopping and dining. In the evening, a single admission charge covers entry to any or all of the clubs.
As Merriweather Adam Pleasure used to say, “It’s fun for all, and all for fun!”
28 September 2008
The clubs of Pleasure Island have turned off the lights and music, silenced the laughs, and closed the doors behind them as of this morning. This isn’t the first changes to the clubs of Pleasure Island, but it does appear to be the last, at least for the time being. I don’t think there could be a better day to take in a little of the history, photographs, and mystique of Pleasure Island. The article below is from the Disney News’ 1989 Fall issue.