Merriweather Adam Pleasure was the industrial tycoon that established Pleasure Island and the founder of the Adventurers Club. After the closure of the Adventurers Club and Pleasure Island, he would be retconned into the ranks of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, with the Adventurers Club being established as his personal chapter.
- 1 History
- 2 Appearances and allusions
- 3 Connections
- 4 Trivia
- 5 References
Merriweather Adam Pleasure was born on New Year's Eve in 1873 in New South Frewsberg, Pennsylvania, though records of the exact date vary between July 4th, November 18, and December 31. He was the son of August W. Pleasure, a free-wheeling millionaire nicknamed "Gold Rush Gus", and Lydia LaMarr, a stage actress known as "The American Venus".
In 1891, Pleasure rejected his father's offer to set him up in business, wanting to try and make it on his own. Merriweather lied about his age and brokered commodities on the New York Curb Exchange to make his first million and establishes the most advanced steel foundry in the world in Pittsburgh. In 1898, he would meet Isabella Domenico and after a three week courtship, they would marry.
It is likely (but not fully confirmed) that by 1899, a 26 year-old Merriweather Adam Pleasure became a member of a group known as the Pillagers Brigade which travelled the world finding artifacts and antiquities to claim for themselves. If true, Pleasure would have been involved in an 1899 expedition to the Congo of Africa along with one Harrison Hightower III only for the brigade to have been attacked by angered natives.
Pleasure was an avid world traveler and adventurer, having become a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers around 1900. In 1900 he went on a river expedition along the Kissimmee River of Florida during which time he was attacked by an alligator. This voyage was later commemorated by the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. In 1901 he and Isabella had a son named Stewart and in 1905 a son named Henry who shared a birthday either on July 4th or December 31st.
While in Mexico, he experienced a mystical vision of a moon-faced spirit known as the Funmeister and sold his industrial empire to begin anew in central Florida. He bought a retired showboat, "The Bailey-Finortner Floating Arts Palace", and used it as a floating mansion for a trip down the Florida Barge Canal System, arriving in Lake Buena Vista in 1911, again with records describing either a July 4th or December 31st date.
Seeing a totem of the Funmeister on the northern bank of the Ferderber Peninsula, Pleasure knew he had found what he was looking for. There he encountered a Seminole tribe informally known as the "I-4 Indians", who held the site as a sacred ceremonial ground. They recognized him as someone carrying the spirit of their culture's equivalent of the Funmeister, and granted Pleasure permission to settle the land as long as he honored the Funmeister's spirit before disappearing and revealing themselves as the long-dead spirits of the old tribe.
Around the time of his arrival to the island, Pleasure's third child was born, Merriam Pleasure, breaking the holiday streak either on July 3rd, 1911 or February 17, 1912. Merriweather was so thrown off by this that he chose to legally change her birthday to match and choose to make every night a holiday on the Island. Over the next few years, the construction of Pleasure Canvas and Sailmakers would go into full swing, with the power station, sail making factory and canvas works fabrication plants going up in 1912 and starting full production by Christmas of that year.
At some point prior to 1913, Merriweather became disaffected with the Society of Explorers and Adventurers due to their stuffiness which lead to him founding his own splinter-faction of the group known as the Adventurers Club. Because of this the Adventurers Club was much more joyous, progressive and hedonistic than the more dignified and pompous Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Members of the group which would/might have been around in the club's early days included the likes of former President of the USA Teddy Roosevelt, S.E.A. affiliate Madame Zarkov who was proprietress of the Museum of the Weird, and the musical British military-officer Colonel Critchlow Sunchbench.
In 1917, to celebrate the end of World War I, Pleasure set off the "World's Largest Firecracker" and accidentally destroyed the remaining land link and turning the peninsula into an island, with Merriam coining the "Pleasure Island" name. On July 4, 1918, the family would move out of the showboat into a proper family home on the island. However, Isabella was feeling this new home had become cramped by Merriweather's extensive library and archaeological collections.
In 1921, Merriweather would build a new headquarters for the Adventurers Club on Pleasure Island, having the building constructed by architects Sir Edwin Luytens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Eliel Saarinen . In 1922, after moving the canvas works to a far part of the island, a Fireworks Factory would be established in the old building and provide for annual Fourth of July fireworks spectaculars until 1927 when it was accidentally destroyed by a spark from Pleasure's pipe. Also in 1927, Merriweather held the first Balderdash Cup which was an annual competition held on Pleasure Island by the Adventurers Club, every New Year's Eve. In the cup, club members must compete by telling or demonstrating true to life adventures they partook in. The winner is determined by club attendees based off of their applause and subsequently awarded the titular cup trophy. Pleasure was the victor of the first Balderdash Cup though this is also the only known time that he won the cup.
Advanced technological experimentation was also explored on the island, with Henry developing an Artificial Intelligence lab in 1929 and experimentations with new forms of transportation in the mid-1930s such as prototype, "steam-magnetic" train engines and the experimental, "X-Thing" flier. Pleasure never forgot his vow to those ghostly Indigenous peoples of the island. While his sailmaking and canvas fabrication business was quickly amassing him a fortune by day, by night the little factory district was turned into a nightly New Year’s Eve Party. At the end of each work day, every day of the year, the laborers, artisans, inventors, and globe-trotting millionaire visitors alike, would dance in the streets as the entire Island community kicked back with wild abandon. The buildings that provided industrial functions during the daytime were reset to be dancehalls, concert or theatrical venues, or locations for dining or refreshments. Every night there was a fireworks display, choreographed by Merriweather Pleasure himself. In fact, a trip to Pleasure Island was a social “must,” as anybody who was “anybody” simply had to stop at least once a year.
The reach of projects and developments on Pleasure Island would expand beyond the sailmaking business in the years to follow and eventually end sailmaking in 1931 to focus on yachting. In 1937, Pleasure would give his wife an anniversary gift of an even larger home north of the island, which was eventually transformed into the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
On the September 1st of 1940, Merriweather took his experimental aircraft the X-Thing for a flight. The test flight is shrouded in mystery, but upon landing Pleasure began broadcasts to outer space. When decoded, the international Morse Code messages repeated, "W-E-L-C-O-M-E".
By 1944 Pleasure Island was famous among the “in the know.” A corrupt syndicate of developers attempted to capitalize on this by turning the Island into a spa and retreat for the rich and famous. The only problem was that Merriweather would not sell his land as he was not about to compromise his obligation to the spirit of the Funmeister. Through a series of bribes, the developers were able to have a court declare the title to the land null and void and were granted the ability to take possession as of the first of the year, 1945. On New Year’s Eve, 1944, Hurricane Charlotte headed across Florida toward Pleasure Island. Merriweather Adam Pleasure evacuated everyone but his family from the property. Once the storm had passed, there was no trace of the Island or its inhabitants left. The topography was so drastically altered, creating an uninhabitable marshland worthless to the developers. The power of the hurricane’s destruction was so great, it was even impossible for them to determine the former site of the Island.
In 1971, Pleasure’s paddlewheeler mysteriously floated into an inlet where a Disney surveying team was camped. It was renovated and re-commissioned as the Empress Lily. This event caused further exploration of Disney’s undeveloped property. It wasn’t until 1987, however, while on a routine helicopter fly over, that a group of Disney construction engineers claimed they saw a man dressed like a ship’s captain waving to them from the banks of Lake Buena Vista. When they circled back and landed, they found only a captain’s hat with the name “Merriweather Adam Pleasure” written on the inside, alongside the crescent moon totem of the Funmeister. Disney archaeologists then undertook the excavation and reclamation of Pleasure Island where every night is New Year’s Eve, once again.
In the retconned 1989 version of Pleasure Island's backstory, he was born on November 18th rather than New Year's Eve. His ultimate fate also changes with Merriweather and his daughter Merriam disappearing at sea aboard the ship "Dominoe" in 1941 during an expedition to Antarctica, leaving the Island businesses to Henry and Stewart, who ran the business into the ground in the 1950s until Hurricane Connie destroyed much of the island in 1955, a storm that would also turn the Placid Palms Resort into Typhoon Lagoon. The Adventurers Club was sealed shut immediately after Merriweather's disappearance. Isabella would pass away in 1949 on Christmas Eve. Pleasure's legacy would eventually be revived when Disney "found" the island and redeveloped it into an entertainment district in the spirit of Merriweather's zest for life and adventure.
Merriweather Pleasure and his family were created in the late 1980s to reinforce Pleasure Island's design concept of being a industrial district repurposed into a nightlife district. All of the buildings at Pleasure Island would feature "historical plaques" explaining their origins as parts of Pleasure's business and home life, with a more extensive timeline being included as part of a set of documents known as the "Pleasure Island Papers" distributed during early press previews. Pleasure's story would reach further into contemporaneous attractions, with the hurricane that destroyed the island also creating Typhoon Lagoon and the Grand Floridian having been another product of Pleasure, though the latter connection has mostly been forgotten. The story would be slightly expanded and revised in 1991 by Adventurers Club head writer Chris Oyen to better explain the continuous New Year's Eve celebration and Funmeister mascot, but the plaques and other materials were never updated accordingly. This variation of the story placed Pleasure's birthday on New Year's Eve and generally switched a recurring Fourth of July motif accordingly, as well as having Pleasure present for the destruction of the island by hurricane rather then disappearing in the Antarctic.
Though he had an extensive written history, visual depictions of Merriweather are scarce. A group portrait of an expedition in the Adventurers Club supposedly did feature Pleasure amongst its ranks, though this would be retconned into a young Harrison Hightower III and a group called the Pillager's Brigade when the painting was relocated to Aulani after the Adventurers Club's closure. A Disney Institute activity sheet inspired by the Adventurers Club and Pleasure would be another rare depiction of the character.
Appearances and allusions
In Aunty's Beach House, Aulani is a certificate deeming one Dreamy Ka'imi a member of the Adventurers Club as signed by Merriweather on the November 13th of 1930. The portrait originally depicting Merriweather is also featured in this area.
As a posthumous character, Mr. Pleasure's legacy was spread throughout the entire complex with stories of his family being told through "Histerical Society" plaques, his main retreat of the Adventurers Club being perpetually stuck in 1937, and his love of New Year's Eve playing into the complex's nightly celebration of the new year.
Merriweather Pleasure was re-introduced as a Society of Explorers and Adventurers member through the inclusion of a S.E.A. membership fez in a display case and a book in the library titled "Another New Year". Two other books by him are titled, "Global Night Celebrations" and "American Prosperity Abroad".
The Tropical Hideaway
Merriweather Pleasure's contribution to the wall of expedition paddles comes from a 1900 trip down the Kissimmee River in Florida with the skull of an alligator embedded in it.
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
This resort's backstory is that it was constructed by Merriweather as a 39th wedding anniversary gift for Isabella where they lived for four years.
- The portrait showing Merriweather Adam Pleasure on a 19th century expedition would be placed in Aunty's Beach House in Aulani and retconned into portraying a group known as the Pillagers Brigade and fellow SEA member Harrison Hightower III, the brigade being said to be an ancestor of the Adventurers Club. This might indicate that Pleasure too was a member of the Pillagers Brigade.