No More Pleasure On This Island

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From the Orlando Sentinel:

The six nightclubs at Pleasure Island will soon shut down, as Walt Disney World redevelops the adult-focused district at Downtown Disney.

BET SoundStage Club, Mannequins Dance Palace, 8Trax and three other nightclubs that have for years catered largely to young, single adults — rather than to Disney’s bread-and-butter family market — will close after Sept. 27. Over the next couple of years Disney will reopen the Pleasure Island area with a broader mix of restaurants and shops.

Though Pleasure Island’s possible demise has been the subject of rumors for awhile, the announcement surprised many in the Orlando nightclub business. Pleasure Island, now 19 years old, may have seemed an odd venture for Disney but it appeared to thrive — so much so that some in the industry have blamed it for accelerating the decline of the nightlife district in Downtown Orlando during the 1990s.

In announcing what they called “a bold new vision” for all of Downtown Disney on Friday, Disney officials framed the Pleasure Island nightclub closures as a response to their customers, who say they want more broad-based dining and retail opportunities throughout the 120-acre district.

“Our bold new vision for Downtown Disney reflects the feedback we receive from our guests each and every day and will enable us to continue to offer the high-quality entertainment that is our hallmark,” said Downtown Disney Vice President Kevin Lansberry.

Pleasure Island is the middle section of Disney World’s 120-acre dining, shopping and entertainment district, called Downtown Disney. While the two flanking areas, MarketPlace and the West Side, also have nightclubs, they are parts of restaurants, appealing to broad crowds. In general, those areas appealed to families. Until recently, Pleasure Island has been mostly about nightclubs, and it created an awkward bridge between MarketPlace and West Side.

Other businesses on Pleasure Island, including a couple of restaurants, a cigar bar and a couple of clothing shops, will remain open. They already offer the broad appeal that Lansberry said Disney’s patrons want from the rest of Pleasure Island. He did not offer specifics about what might replace the clubs, but said Disney was looking worldwide for restaurant and shopping concepts.

In addition, Disney is sprucing up the other two areas, adding new restaurants, expanding and updating a band shell, and bringing in a giant, tethered balloon attraction, which visitors can ride in, going up 300 feet above Village Lake.

Be sure to stay tuned to WDW News Today as more information on this breaking development becomes available.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]