Pleasure Island was a nightlife district at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney shopping area.
Presented as a repurposed industrial district owned by Merriweather Adam Pleasure, Pleasure Island was home to a variety of bars and nightclub activities, with the most prominent of these being the Adventurers Club. After the closure of the island's facilities and its transformation into The Landing at Disney Springs, both Pleasure and his Adventurers Club were incorporated into the Society of Explorers and Adventurers lore.
Pleasure Island had a vast backstory presented in the form of faux-historical plaques scattered across the island. As such, coverage of the island on this page will be based on these plaques.
- 1 Storyline
- 2 Clubs and Entertainment
- 3 Restaurants
- 4 Shops
- 5 Other Marked Features
Storyline[edit | edit source]
Historical Plaque[edit | edit source]
A living monument to "the wise fool, the mad visionary, the scoundrel, the scalawag, and the seeker of enjoyment." Merriweather Adam Pleasure, who purchased the island in 1911. Pleasure's profitable canvas manufacturing/sail fabricating empire, founded on this site, provided him with the capital to indulge his lifelong interest in the exotic, the experimental, and the unexplainable. Known as the Grand Funmeister, Pleasure disappeared during his 1941 circumnavigation of the Antarctic. His sons, Henry and Stewart, took over the island and the Pleasure enterprises. Their mismanagement led to bankruptcy in 1955; Hurricane Connie hit that same year, and Pleasure Island was abandoned. In 1987, Archaeologists uncovered the site and its remains, and a large scale reclamation project was begun. In 1989, the new Pleasure Island was re-opened and dedicated to the legacy of Merriweather Adam Pleasure: "Fun for all, and All for fun!"
Clubs and Entertainment[edit | edit source]
This imposing building was designed to house the huge personal library and archeological trophy collection of island founder and compulsive explorer Merriweather Adam Pleasure. Pleasure won the plans in a game of dominoes and attributed them throughout his life to noted architects Sir Edwin Luytens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Eliel Saarinen. The building became the headquarters for the Adventurers Club, Pleasure’s zany band of globe-trotting friends. Exotic souvenirs of the members’ outlandish expeditions and riotous adventures were displayed on the walls. After Pleasure vanished at sea in 1941, the Club was sealed until it was opened to the public for the first time in 1989.
The Adventurers Club was the flagship club of Pleasure Island and the conceptual ancestor of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The actors have since participated in several reunion performances and appearances.
Comedy Warehouse[edit | edit source]
|Power Station - 1912
This building became a storage facility when Pleasure Island was electrified in 1928. Six years later, the power station became home to the Pleasure Island Thespian Players, founded by and featuring Isabella Pleasure, wife of island founder and drama enthusiast Merriweather Pleasure. The players specialized in elaborate Central Florida Historical Pageants, including the seminal "Song of the Seminole." After Mrs. Pleasure's death in 1949, the building was closed and the players disbanded. Since its restoration by the Walt Disney Company, this site is again a warehouse, storing strange notions, again attractions and ideas slightly ahead of their time.
The Comedy Warehouse was a comedy club generally specializing in sketch comedy and improv. In the years since the Island's closure, the comedy troupe has occasionally had special reunion shows held at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the Holidays.
Neon Armadillo[edit | edit source]
|The Greenhouse - 1927
Constructed to house the vast array of exotic desert plants collected by island founder, a globe-trotter and amateur cactogogist Merriweather Pleasure. Pleasure regarded the Greenhouse as his personal Eden. He nurtured his “prickly pals,” as he called them, with fanatical devotion. After Pleasure’s disappearance in 1941, his Greenhouse was sealed off. When it was reopened in 1989, scientists discovered a huge and happy family or armadillos. The inhabitants were immortalized in neon by the Island renovators.
The Neon Armadillo was a country/western music dance club. Running from 1989 to 1998, it would be replaced by the BET Soundstage.
Mannequins[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Island Canvas Works Fabrication Plant- 1912
Second building erected on the island, this actually housed Merriweather Pleasure's famous canvas fabrication works. In the 1930s, it was converted to a soundstage for Invincible Pictures, then into a design studio and workshop for various Pleasure projects. Most notable of these was a huge locomotive powered by a combination of steam and magnetic power. A colossal turntable was installed to facilitate the work on this revolutionary product, called Maxwell's Demon, that was intended to revolutionize world transportation. It didn't.
Mannequins was a techno-trance multi-story dance club which featured a revolving lighted dance floor. The club featured nightly light shows with synchronized music and live performances by human "mannequins".
XZFR Rockin' Rollerdrome/Rock N Roll Beach Club[edit | edit source]
|Building X - 1937
Island founder and UFO enthusiast Merriweather Pleasure built his experimental "X-thing" here. Pleasure himself designed this super amphibious aircraft that could harness the power of the wind. The "X-Thing" flew only once—Sept. 1, 1940—with Pleasure himself at the controls. The test flight is shrouded in mystery, but upon landing Pleasure began broadcasts to outer space. Beamed from the roof of this building, the international Morse Code messages repeated "W-E-L-C-O-M-E."
XZFR Rockin' Rollerdrome was a shortlived roller rink dance club that was closed in 1990 and replaced with the Rock n Roll Beach Club that would operate until the island's closure.
Videopolis East/Cage[edit | edit source]
|Artificial Intelligence Lab - 1929
Built for Island founder Merriweather Pleasure's son Henry, the "mad genius of Lake Buena Vista" and Henry's life work, the Pleasure Cellular Automaton. Henry died thinking his experiments in artificial intelligence had failed. But when the building was reopened in 1987, the automaton was alive and thriving. In fact, it directed the refurbishing of its home and designed the sophisticated computer hardware that shows itself to best advantage.
An East Coast equivalent to the Videopolis dance club at Disneyland, Videopolis featured new wave and alternative music and was designed for teenagers and guests under 21. In 1990, it was rebranded as Cage and featured the same decor. Finally, it was replaced by 8TRAX in 1992, a club focused around music from the 1970s and 1980s.
AMC Pleasure Island 24[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Canvas Works - Fabrication Plant No. 12 - 1922
Originally constructed to house Island founder Merriweather Pleasure’s burgeoning canvas fabrication business. Hoping to discover and patent a cheap, clean, abundant, renewable source of power, Pleasure had the building refitted in 1938 as a laboratory for testing “thermomagnetics”—a process designed to harness the earth’s magnetic force. The success of the experiment was proven in 1940 when the facility blew sky high with no visible, provable use of combustibles. Pleasure commanded that the ruined super structure and outbuildings remain as testimony to “the awesome power of the planet”. Rebuilt jointly by American Multi-Cinemas, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company. Opened in 1988.
The movie theater complex at Pleasure Island opened as part of the island's offerings, but in 1998, would be reassigned to the new West End area and be renamed as AMC Downtown Disney 24 and subsequently survive Downtown Disney's transition into Disney Springs.
Restaurants[edit | edit source]
The Empress Lilly[edit | edit source]
|The Floating Arts Palace - 1886
Originally christened The Floating Arts Palace, this vessel plied the mighty Mississippi River for 25 years. Boat fancier Merriweather Pleasure purchased it in 1911 to use as a home, guest house, and entertainment center while he began construction on Pleasure Island. In 1918, the former showboat was unmoored and transformed into a summer houseboat for steaming down the tree-lined waterways of Central Florida. In 1971 the boat was restored to her original glory and re-commissioned The Empress Lilly in honor of Mrs. Lillian Disney.
The Empress Lilly was an element from the original Walt Disney World Village Marketplace that was incorporated into the new Pleasure Island storyline that originally opened in 1976. It originally housed four different restaurants on its decks until a major refurbishment began in 1995 when Levy's Restaurants turned the entire ship into a Fulton's Crab House restaurant. After the Island's closure and the transformation into Disney Springs, it took on the name Paddlefish.
Lilly Plaza[edit | edit source]
|LILLY PLAZA - 1922
Originally a turnaround for the limousines of guests visiting the Pleasure family houseboat. The plaza was remodeled for the July 4, 1937, debut of the 118-member Pleasure Island Philharmonic Concert Band conducted by Maestro Don G. O’Vanni. The P.I.P.C.B. concerts on this site ended with a piece Mrs. Isabella Pleasure commissioned, the haunting "Fugue for Triangle, Piccolo and Steampowered Riverboat Whistle."
Portobello Yacht Club[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Family Home - 1918
Island Founder Merriweather Pleasure built this home for his family who lived on their beloved island for 20 years. Here, Mrs. Isabella Pleasure hosted hundreds of tea socials, garden parties and croquet tournaments, featuring fine food and uninhibited conversation. As she often said, "If you don't have something nice to say, come sit next to me!" Restored in 1989 as a joint effort of the Walt Disney Company and the Levy Restaurants.
Portobello Yacht Club was a fine Italian restaurant and survived the Island's closure. Later renamed Portobello Country Italian Trattoria before being turned into Terralina Crafted Italian for Disney Springs in 2017. The outdoor seating area was focused around Mrs. Pleasure's rose garden.
|PORTOBELLO ROSE GARDEN
Mrs. Isabella Pleasure, wife of Island founder Merriweather Pleasure, spent 20 years and several-hundred-thousand dollars attempting to crossbreed a "true blue" rose. Like others before her, she had to be content with variations on the color lavender. Mrs. Pleasure’s garden, first planted in 1919, was recreated in 1989 from notes in her journals and diaries.
Fireworks Factory[edit | edit source]
|Fireworks Laboratory and Storage Bunker - 1922
Island founder Merriweather Pleasure had a passion for pyrotechnics. In 1922, he persuaded China’s premier fireworks inventor, The Bang Master, to immigrate to Orlando. The Master’s lab and storage bunker were built on this spot, and for the next four years Orlando’s citizens enjoyed stupendous Independence Day aerial displays. On July 3, 1927, a stray spark from Pleasure’s pipe set off an explosion that was heard in Tampa, 82 miles away. Mrs. Pleasure insisted that the wreckage of the factory be preserved as a reminder of “Pleasure’s Folly.”
The Fireworks Factory was a barbecue restaurant operate by Levy Restaurants, decorated with fireworks props and paraphernalia. A concept for a Fireworks Factory attraction previously existed in plans for the unbuilt Discovery Bay, taking the form of a shooting gallery attraction. Later replaced by a Wildhorse Saloon restaurant in 1997, which in turn was replaced by the club Motion in 2001.
Merriweather's Market[edit | edit source]
|M. A. Pleasure’s Original Sailmaking Factory - 1912
Foundation and wellspring of the considerable fortune of Island founder Merriweather Adam Pleasure. Once a month during the full moon, Pleasure could be seen on the roof of this building, chanting to the goddess of the the tides to keep his various enterprises afloat. Pleasure Island’s first sail was completed here December 18, 1912. After the assembly of the last sail on June 4, 1931, perfectionist Merriweather Pleasure insisted that the factory be preserved intact. The building was devastated by Hurricane Connie in 1955. Restored in 1989.
Merriweather's Market was a food court area that was replaced by the Pleasure Island Jazz Company in 1993. In 2005, the Jazz Company was absorbed by the Raglan Road Irish Pub, which survived the Island's transformation into The Landing.
Shops[edit | edit source]
Avigators Supply[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Shipping and Receiving- 1924
Island founder Merriweather Pleasure had this building constructed to facilitate his business refurbishing ships and yachts. It later became a clearing house and depot for the booty from his global adventures. In 1939, Pleasure befriended a group of native Floridian stunt pilots, the "Avigators" who operated a short-lived import/export business here from 1949-1951.
- “The avid aviator avoids adverse and aggressive atmospheric aspects, and aspires to the accelerating acuteness of an avaricious aerial alligator. The navigating aviator advances aerial avionics through animal instinct, such is the nature of this elusive avocation. There are a lot of aviators but few can attest or attain to such acumen and acclamation as... The Avigators”
- ―Avigators merch text
Avigators was a clothing shop that sold aviation gear branded with a signature "Flying Alligator" brand as well as Adventurers Club and Indiana Jones merchandise . It closed around the year 2000.
Changing Attitudes[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Perfect Upholstery - 1923
Six full-time seamstresses worked here to refurbish the interiors of the custom yachts in the Pleasure Island Dry Dock. In 1934, the shop was responsible for stuffing the head of a rare Mongolian Yakoose for the Adventurers Club. This profitable sideline ended in 1943 when a war time shortage of kapok put taxidermy on the endangered species list.
Clothing shop dedicated to current fashions. Closed on April 1, 2006.
Doodles[edit | edit source]
|The Machine Shop - 1937
Built as a custom tool-and-die shop for fearless flyer and Island founder Merriweather Pleasure’s “X-Thing” project. His granddaughter, Katie, converted it into Katie’s Kustom Kars, the first female owned and operated auto customizing shop in the Southeastern United States. Katie, a.k.a. Doodles, closed the shop in 1954 to join the Air Force as a test pilot for the only customized X-1 ever built.
A graphic t-shirts and accessories shop located adjacent to the Rock N Roll Beach Club.
The Island Depot[edit | edit source]
|Pleasure Island Administration Building - 1913
Originally a wooden shack housing Pleasure Island's paymaster/accountant/bookkeeper, telegraphy office, mailroom, first aid station, and social center, the first building on this site (constructed in 1913) burned to the ground in 1933 during a party celebrating the repeal of Prohibition. A subsequent building erected on the site was blown apart by a savage 1944 typhoon. Refurbished 1988-1989.
A general store selling Pleasure Island merchandise as well as film, cameras, sunglasses and assorted sundries.
YesterEars[edit | edit source]
|Remains of Pleasure Island Ltd. Chandlery and Tool Crib - 1924
One of the many support facilities for the cornerstone of Island founder Merriweather Pleasure's commercial empire, Pleasure Canvas and Sailmakers, Ltd. A 1944 hurricane sheared off the front of the building, sending a million (more of less) bolts, screws, linchpins, lugnuts, and spanner wrenches into the depths of Lake Buena Vista.
YesterEars sold vintage Disneyana themed merchandising with retro versions of Mickey and Donald. In the years since the store's demise, Disney has used the YesterEars brand for limited edition retro theme park clothing sold online.
Hammer and Fire/Reel Finds[edit | edit source]
|Fittings Foundry - 1923
The bronze foundry for Pleasure Island Yacht Refurbishing Inc. was built in 1923. Unique custom fittings, individually cast at great expense, were required to achieve the "pleasure principle" of lavish but functional ornamentation of sailing vessels.
Hammer and Fire was a titanium jewelry, stoneware and wall hanging shop. It was replaced by Reel Finds, a Hollywood movie memorabilia shop that would close on April 1, 2006.
Superstar Studios[edit | edit source]
|Mrs. Pleasure's Music Parlor - Composed 1929
Built to store island matriarch Isabella Pleasure's gargantuan collection of 78 rpm Italian opera records. Immediately upon her passing in 1949, her two sons sold her collection (valued at $475,000) to an Orlando junk dealer for $150. Refurbished by the Walt Disney Company and Star Trax Enterprises in 1989.
A "make your own music video" studio replaced by Curl by Sammy Duvall in 2008.
Suspended Animation[edit | edit source]
|Navigational Pleasure Graphics Ltd. - 1924
Island founder and graphics connoisseur Merriweather Adam Pleasure rocked the art world when he lured R. North Camilpoter, America's premier gold leaf stylist, to Orlando. Camilpoter spent his days peacefully hand-painting the bows of the yachts Pleasure refurbished. When Hurricane Charlotte damaged the building in 1944, only three years after his patron's demise, the graphic artist was too dispirited to rebuild.
An animation art shop specializing in posters, cels, and lithographs and other collectibles
Other Marked Features[edit | edit source]
Bridge[edit | edit source]
|BRIDGE - Originally constructed 1914
This bridge stood until 1943, when young Stewart Pleasure, son of Island founder Merriweather Pleasure, piloted the family showboat directly into the graceful span connecting Pleasure Island with the mainland. Stewart supervised the rebuilding of the bridge in 1944, but destroyed it again on September 2, 1954. The current bridge was built from the 1914 plans by the Walt Disney Company.
Lookout Point[edit | edit source]
|LOOKOUT POINT, PLEASURE ISLAND
Son of Island founder Merriweather Pleasure, “Paranoid Henry” Pleasure camped up here every single night from December 8, 1941, to V-J Day. He was convinced that the Axis powers were plotting an assault on America by coming ashore at Pleasure Island, which was then—and remains—80 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. In his nearly four years of vigilance, Henry fired his musket only once. He mistook a family of herons for the leading edge of an invasion force. The herons escaped unharmed.
Lombard Promenade[edit | edit source]
|LOMBARD PROMENADE - 1929
Designed by Island founder and incurable romantic Merriweather Adam Pleasure after a trip he and wife Isabella took to San Francisco. They both fell in love with the city's back-and-forth boulevard, Lombard Street. Isabella wanted a photograph as a souvenir, but Merriweather insisted on recreating the street itself. It later became a favorite site for the legendary, day-long hide-and-seek tournaments organized by the Pleasure grandchildren.
A garden placed on the steps and ramp leading up the hill to the Adventurers Club.
West End Plaza[edit | edit source]
|WEST END PLAZA - 1941
Island founder and stargazer Merriweather Adam Pleasure was convinced during the sole flight of his “X-Thing” aircraft that he could make contact with alien beings. Working feverishly, Pleasure completed the world’s first and only Alien Landing Platform on July 4, 1941. His wife Isabella immediately laid claim to it for her beloved Pleasure Island Philharmonic Concert Band. Much to Merriweather’s disgust (“How can ‘they’ land when that blasted band is playing?’”) this became home base for the P.I.P.C.B.