Retro Disney World Podcast
69 - Pleasure Island Part III

69 - Pleasure Island Part III

August 16, 2021

Welcome to Episode 69 of the RetroWDW Podcast: Pleasure Island Part II – We appreciate your support and hope you have been enjoying each and every episode. Be sure to check out some of our previous shows from over the years. We have visited multiple parks, resorts, and just about everything else in between. We hope you stick with us through 2021 as we bring you some great content that will take you back to WDW each month.  Enjoy!

Listener Mail

Right to the mailbag this month! The bag is full and we love that! Every month, you can possibly get on the show, so be sure to write to us at podcast@retrowdw.com. Also, top-tier donors can even join us on a show! Take a look at how you can join us live on an episode.

  1. Joie is up first this month – sharing a photo collection of every page from ‘The Magic of Disneyland & Walt Disney World’ from 1979. Click Here to see all this hard work – thank you!!
  2. Joie also shared packaging from Todd’s infamous “Squeaky Mickey”. This is HUGE! From 1978, this mickey toots his own horn, blows bubbles, and party favors. Take a look at this! Big thanks to Joie for the fun mail items this month. We spoke about Squeaky Mickey on Episode 7 and Episode 8.
  3. Our next message is from Michael Landis. He decided to reach out and ask about SMTV: Space Mountain TV. Here is a video for reference. We get into what the point of this was, including Crazy Larry! This is a great flashback to the 90s and New Tomorrowland. One item from that refurb that is possibly lost in your memories. Michael notes that it was very similar to a cross between MTV and Nickelodeon of the time.  The preshow videos were tied to the Fedex Sponsorship with took effect in 1993, more research on who created the video loop is needed. The video loop continued to run, minus the Fedex ads after 2003 when the Fedex sponsorship ended, until around 2009 when the queue was remodeled.
  4. Lindsay writes in to share about another Tom Cruise experience. She was working in the College Program in 2012 and was assigned to Cinderella’s Royal Table, on the date she was supposed to be taking a cast tour of the Dream Suite, Tom Cruise and his daughter ended up booking the room and her tour was canceled.  She goes on to say that Tom ordered some food from the kitchen and other staff members from the restaurant took it up to the suite. People magazine covered the stay
  5. Cody then asks about the Epcot confusion of the East/West sections of Future World. Since Epcot was built on a north/south orientation with the entrance at the northern end of the park, it was decided to use the compass points for east and west for the two sides of CommuniCore and the Pavilions. Cody then asked about expansion of the monorail system asking if it was mostly the cost, the cost of creating new monorail lines was the main issue along with the flexibility of busses being another important factor. Cody’s last question was about when the ability to ride in the front of the monorails went away, which was stopped after the fatal monorail crash the evening of July 5th 2009 near the Magic Kingdom.
  6. Our last letter comes from Tobias a new listener to the podcast who might have had another celebrity encounter. He tells the story of a park closing in 1983 being brought into the Magic Shop at the Magic Kingdom where he was asked to see and assist several magic tricks being presented by someone who was dressed like Michael Jackson but called himself Michael Jason.  If anyone knows of any of the magicians who might match this memory please let us know.

Main Topic

Welcome back to Pleasure Island! This is part three of our trilogy, which could possibly have a part four in the near future. We have been all over for our first two episodes, Part I & Part II. For this episode though, we are going to dig into two of the more famous Pleasure Island venues, The Comedy Warehouse & The Adventurer’s Club.

The Comedy Warehouse

We begin with The Comedy Warehouse, which is actually the current location of STK. How leads us once again, starting off with typefaces, logos, and Brian also gets things going with a short history of comedy in the 70s & 80s. This is a super interesting look at the warehouse which discusses the concept art and also the club atmosphere, which is pretty much lost to history.
One super interesting part of How’s take on this club is the use of props and Disney items. I absolutely love how they tied all of this into the Comedy Warehouse. Finally, How drops the bomb on us that the show was totally scripted and wasn’t standard, open mic comedy. The show actually made fun of Walt Disney World. We have a video on our YouTube Channel, and you can check that out right here.

The outside of the building was themed to a warehouse with corrugated metal siding and sporting various editions of the signage until one with chattering teeth and mixed letting on the Warehouse section were used from that point on.

Brian leads a brief discussion of the expansion of comedy clubs in the late 70’s into the 80’s.  Before this period comedians were relegated to opening acts, but suddenly various clubs were being opened in major cities nationwide. The expansion of cable channels started to push major comedy specials which lead to more comedy clubs opening.

The entrance to the club was near the West End Stage with the queue running outside the club.  A temporary popup bar originally served those waiting, later a bar named Laughers was built to handle drinks for people waiting in the queue outside which was outside.

Inside the theater there were three sections, floor, mid and balcony areas which could hold up to 290 guests, each seating row had stools to sit on and a pathway behind where the waiters could come and provide food and drinks.

The concept art showed a couple of different possible stage setups, the warehouse ended up having a large number of rare and unique Disney props all over the walls. 

Although most comedy clubs of the time would just have several stand-up comedians perform each night with a couple of clubs devoted to Improv, the Comedy Warehouse opened with a stage show called Forbidden Disney which was set up to make fun of all aspects of a Disney Vacation.   The show was written and directed by Tom Sherohman who also worked on some of the Adventures Club and Wonders of Life skits.

The show was over 60 minutes in length and presented as a show inside a show, the performers were stuck in line elsewhere, but the staff needed to start the show.  The show featured three main vacationers, a Father who wanted to do everything, a Mother who wanted to take it easier and a Daughter who didn’t want to be there at all. The first version of the show lasted about a year, between management’s hesitation at running the show and the lack of interest from repeat Pleasure Island visitors.   Various segments of the show were still included after the change to an improv show.

Chris Oyen, who moved to the Orlando area in 1990, was responsible for the direction for the new Improv style shows The Improv format continued to draw crowds until the closing of the Pleasure Island clubs in 2008.  In later years the warehouse would just sometimes have show normal stand up shows instead of improv. 

One of the regular most memorable improv show techniques was to use a phone that would ring one of the phones at the end of the rows of the audience and build a song based on the feedback from the call.  Most of the other skits would take the random suggestions from the audience to build their comedy routines

The comedy warehouse cast has reunited a number of times since the club closed, including some holiday shows at the Hollywood studios. 

After a brief discussion of which hosts had visited the club during it’s years of operation before we head across the west end to the Adventures Club.

The Adventurers Club

An all-time fan favorite that led to Mr. Toad level protest and outrage when it closed. It was patterned off the NYC Explorer’s Club from the early 1900s. This dinner theater/dinner show/theme bar/everything else you want to refer it to was something different when compared to all the other clubs. Improvised characters, animatronics, multiple rooms, and multiple floors all went together to make this a super fun experience. As a group, we all get into our own personal experiences with The Adventurer’s Club. Each of us went in different eras and also have different opinions on the club. Todd has an especially fun story that connected his family to the club and it sounds like it was a great time. We have a few different videos on our YouTube channel, which you can check out here and here. While the Adventurer’s Club has left us, the memories are everlasting for many, many fans.

As stated earlier in the Podcast, there seems to be the need for a fourth part of the Pleasure Island saga. This could very well end up as a box set on your bookshelf in the future! As always, when How gets into things the details are immense and the stories are plentiful. Thank you for listening and we hope you enjoyed this almost finished journey through Pleasure Island.

The entrance to the Adventures Club started as a very plain building before remodeling in the early 90s.  The club was modeled after New York’s Explorers Club which was founded in the early 1900’s as well as other adventure style clubs of that era.

The backstory for the club was that it was New Years Eve 1937 and the club was holding an Open House for all of those interested. Guests would enter on the second floor and pick up a schedule for the events of the evening.  The events would be split between the mask room, treasure room, the salon and the Library which was the largest room in the club.

The Mezzanine level had numerous artifacts and black and white photos as well as some seating areas, there was a small bar on this level with an elevator and staircase that lead down to the main floor.

The Main Salon was the central area of the club with the primary bar located here.  The bar had a number of themed alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as some special bar stools that could be slowly lowered by the bartenders. 

On one of the walls of the Main Salon was the Yakoose an animatronic mounted head that would come to life during the night and talk with the guests or Babylonia who was a large stone face puppet on the opposite wall.  The final character in the main salon was Colonel Critchlow Sunchbench who would interact with the other Adventure’s Club cast as well as lead the new inductees in the club song.

There were two small rooms off of the Main Salon, the Mask Room and the Treasure Room.  Inside the Mask Room, two large masks at the front of the room, Arnie and Claude talked, while other masks in the room moved their eyes, moved and laughed.  In the Treasure Room who would find the genie Beezle who’s head would appear and float around in one of the cabinets.

The largest room on the first floor was the Library a two-level space where the grand piano has crashed down from the second floor killing the pianist who haunts the piano as Fingers Zambezi.  The shows in the Library were usually held around every 40 minutes or so and included shows such as:

Welcome Party

Radio Broadcast

The Balderdash Cup Competition

The RadioThon

The Hoopla – which was the final show of the evening

There was a regular cast of characters at the Club, the actors could and would change characters throughout the night, the usual characters included:

            Pamelia Perkins – Club President.

            Otis T. Wren – Club Treasurer and ichthyologist

            Hathaway Browne – Aviator, and the club’s resident innuendo-making ladies’ man.

            Fletcher Hodges – Absent-minded Club Curator, he is said to have “mounted every object in the club.”

            Graves – Club Butler.

            The Maid

            Marcel – A man in an ape suit

 

The Adventures Club offered Club Memberships for a reasonable fee per year bringing in more and more locals who would return weekly or more often to partake in the club’s activities.

One of the downsides of the Club was some of the confusion, which may have been planned, that new people would feel walking into the Club, seeing the schedule and having no idea what any of it meant.  When the main show was going on in the Library the club was rather dead, a explanation video or something else to help first-timers might have been helpful.

A discussion was held about the locals who held a great fandom of the adventures club in comparison to other group event fandoms such as the Rocky Horror Picture show.

The Jekyll And Hyde Club in New York City has a similar intent to the concept of the Adventures Club with different rooms and different events happening during the dining experience.  The closest experience still left at Walt Disney World would be the Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen which has different themed rooms with various artifacts and jokes found throughout the building.

The Adventures Club, along with the rest of Pleasure Island, closed on Sept 27th 2008,  the cast reunited for one last performance and “membership renewal” during the 2014 D23 Destination D event at the Contemporary Resort

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App