If you are anything like me and were fortunate enough to experience Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island in its heyday, it is bittersweet to recognize today as the 25th Anniversary of its opening. There are a ton of changes coming for Downtown Disney with the new Disney Springs project. For now though, I’d like to take a look back at some of my favorite memories of Pleasure Island as I knew and loved it.
I first became an Annual Passholder to Walt Disney World shortly after moving to Florida in 1998. Living about an hour and a half away, I would often come to Orlando for a couple of days and stay just off property near Downtown Disney in the Crossroads area. My friends and I would usually take a cab for the short ride since we were going to the clubs. Being a premium annual passholder, admission to Pleasure Island was included for guests 18 and up, so I would find myself heading to Downtown Disney most weekends I visited.
There were eight clubs, some changed over time, but some were mainstays. I loved the ten years I got to experience Pleasure Island from 1998 – 2008 and often miss it dearly.
Opening day clubs that I never got to experience included XZFR Rockin Rollerdome, which was later replaced by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Club, the Neon Armadillo, later became the BET Soundstage and Videopolis East, which later turned into 8Trax. I also never made it to the Fireworks Factory that was replaced Wildhorse Saloon in 1998 and later Motion. I never made it to the Comedy Warehouse, but I’m okay with this as standup isn’t really my thing.
Where Raglan Road is now, Pleasure Island Jazz Company use to sit. It was a fantastic club that was cool to hang out in while listening to live bands play traditional jazz, fusion, afro-cuban, even a capella groups performed there. This was one of my favorite places to go and just sit and enjoy a great band while enjoying a cocktail.
Another club where I spent a good amount of time was at Mannequins with the large rotating dance floor. This was one of my favorites and it played primarily current club and dance music. I loved this place especially when Sandstorm came on!
8Trax was a club that played 70s and 80s music, depending on the night. It was a lot of fun hearing some classic songs to dance long into the night.
These are the two clubs where I spent the most time aside from my all time favorite, the dearly missed Adventurer’s Club. This club was different from any other I’ve been to. It was part comedy, part improv, but all fun. Set in 1937, the club featured a group of adventurers always willing to induct a few more into their club. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent in the library or the mask room.
I have so many great memories of nights spent at Pleasure Island with friends and family. The countdown to New Year’s Eve and nightly fireworks were always fun with the live band on the West Side stage. The DJ and video screens played great songs outside between the clubs and shops.
I look forward to seeing how this area will evolve over the next few years, but in the meantime I sure could use a good old Kungaloosh! I guess I’ll just have to wait til I’m back at Trader Sams in Disneyland in November.
Did you get to experience Pleasure Island before the clubs closed in September of 2008? What’s your favorite part of the current Pleasure Island?Follow us for more updates: