Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1989. If you were going to party in Walt Disney World in 1989 the place to head was Pleasure Island, which opened in May of that year and celebrated New Year’s Eve every night.
This photo was taken from down near The Fireworks Factory, which would later become Motion and, after the closure in 2008, now an empty lot. Between the pyrotechnics, clouds of smoke, and blizzard of confetti, however, there is a lot here to remember and marvel at.
First up, right on the right, is the XZFR Rockin’ Rollerdrome. There is a lot of history just in this one spot, but we’ve talked about it quite frequently here on the Gazette. You can see some Rollerdrome concept art and read a bit of the location’s history or read what the fictitious, but hilarious, Pleasure Island Historical Society has to say about the site that was anchored by a band known as Time Pilots.
Tucked around the corner is Doodles, a t-shirt shop that specialized in popular graphic designs that were printed on shirts and other accessories. Across the walkway, where the Ticket sign hangs in blaring yellow, is The Island Depot. This was the location for guests to pick up stroller and wheelchair rentals, as well as an assortment of sundries, from film and cameras to shirts and Pleasure Island logo items.
Down the street is an angular building that looks like the home of Paradiso 37. As it turns out that is the future home of Paradiso 37, but in 1989, however, it housed YesterEars. You can see the beginning of the word Yester and a classic Mickey Mouse on the sign peeking out from behind the palm tree. This merchandise location focused in on the 1930s and 1940s, hence the vintage Mickey form, and sold a variety of character memorabilia and products.
Pleasure Island had a long and storied history, both real and born from the minds of the Imagineers. Sometimes I love just getting lost in a moment of those times, and this is one of those perfect pictures that really lets you feel what it was like to walk the streets of New Year’s Eve every evening.