5 Fun Facts About Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island
In 1989, Walt Disney World debuted a new character. He did not appear in Disney film or cartoon, but existed solely in the newly unveiled Pleasure Island. His name was Merriweather Adam Pleasure, an eccentric titan of industry and inventor who came to Lake Buena Vista in 1911 to start a new business. He built an enormous community devoted to his money making ventures and myriad interests, including a theater, a massive library (which doubled as an Adventurer’s Club for Merriweather’s friends and colleagues), a canvas factory and a fireworks laboratory.
Eventually this community faded away, only to be rediscovered by Disney Imagineers who set about rebuilding the old industrialist’s world. When they finished, guests were welcomed back to the curious environs of Mr. Pleasure.
Pleasure Island closed for good in September of 2008, but legendary tales of adventure and excitement linger in the memory of those who visited. Here are five fun facts about Disney’s defunct pleasuredome.
Of all Pleasure Island’s delights, perhaps none is missed so much as the Adventurer’s Club. Created by Imagineers including Joe Rohde (who would later serve as the creative force behind Animal Kingdom), Chris Carradine, and Roger Cox, the club was designed to resemble famous institutions like New York City’s Explorers Club.
The club had five themed rooms: the Mask Room, the Treasure Room, the Zebra Mezzanine, the Main Salon, and the Library. Each section was jam packed with artifacts from the club members’ journeys. Guests to the club were entertained by Disney cast members as well as a collection of audio-animatronics.
The club’s official motto was, “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you, but always dress for the hunt!”
Guests were greeted with the word “kungaloosh”, an undefined all-purpose word like “aloha” that could mean virtually anything. Kungaloosh was also the club’s signature drink, a mix of vodka, rum, melon liqueur, cranberry juice and pineapple juice.
The Adventurer’s Club also featured a theme song sung after new members were inducted. The chorus of the song went:
Marching along, we’re Adventurers
Singing the Song of Adventurers
Up or down, North, South, East or West
An Adventurer’s life is best
2. New Year’s Eve
Guests could celebrate New Year’s Eve every night at Pleasure Island. Every night at midnight, the island had a fireworks show to ring in the “New Year”. The tradition lasted from 1990-2005, with a revival held on Pleasure Island’s final night in 2008.
The popular event even worked its way into pop culture consciousness when it was parodied in an episode of the Simpsons. In 1994, the animated sitcom aired an episode titled “Itchy and Scratchy Land” about a theme park that included a club for adults called T.G.I.McScratchy’s “where it’s New Year’s Eve every night!”
3. Forbidden Disney
The theater built by Merriweather Adam Pleasure, originally known as the Pleasure Thespian Players, became the Comedy Warehouse. The club originally featured a satirical musical called “Forbidden Disney” with music and lyrics by Lynn Hart. The show featured a family on vacation to the Magic Kingdom, with songs like “SuperConcientiousFriendlyDisneyWorldEmployees” and characters like the “Disney Lawyer” who stepped in to guard from copyright infringement whenever cast members performed character impressions.
The musical was eventually replaced by an improv comedy troupe.
4. Granville Island, Vancouver
Early inspiration for Pleasure Island came from Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia. Granville Island was once an industrial center that later transformed into a destination for restaurants, galleries and shopping. Chris Carradine mentioned the location in a conversation with Craig McNair Wilson, artistic director of SAK Theater in Orlando, who also worked with performers in Epcot and later at MGM Studios. The two teamed with Joe Rohde to come up with the ideas that eventually resulted in the Pleasure Island concept and the story of Merriweather Adam Pleasure’s industrial complex turned social hot spot.
5. Hyperion Wharf: The Land that Wasn’t
In late 2010, Disney announced that Pleasure Island would be re-branded as Hyperion Wharf. Imagineers conceived of the area as a modern version of the classic port city. New restaurants and attractions were planned. Concept sketches were released to the public, but the project never came to fruition. Eventually Disney abandoned the concept, replacing it with Disney Springs.