Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ultra Music Festival in Miami

Now that March has arrived, it’s time to talk about the Ultra Music Festival. The two day event is the largest electronic music (techno) festival in the world and culminates Winter Music Conference. This year’s event is on Friday and Saturday, March 26-27 at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami. They are currently only selling 2-day tickets; I’ve heard that as the event draws near, they might sell 1-day tickets for your choice of date. The 2-day ticket is $139.95 + tax. Not cheap, but here are just some of the DJ’s currently listed for performances:

FRIDAY: Tiësto (NL) , David Guetta (F), Groove Armada (GB) , Carl Cox (GB), The Crystal Method (USA), Kaskade (USA), Erik Prydz (S), Little Boots (GB) and Timo Maas (D), Felix da Housecat (USA).

SATURDAY: DJ Deadmau5 (CDN), Swedish House Mafia (S), Armin van Buuren (NL), Carl Cox (GB), Sasha & Digweed (GB), Above & Beyond (GB), Paul Oakenfold (GB), Benny Benassi (I), Markus Schulz (D), Baby Anne (USA), Robbie Rivera (USA), Fedde le Grand (NL), DJ Dan (USA), DJ Icey (USA).

There are multiple stages so it's possible to circulate to multiple performances occurring at the same time. The biggest names play during prime time. Friday begins at 3pm, Saturday at Noon.

UPDATE: 1-Day tickets are now for sale!

PI Update: Water Fountain Show?

A couple days ago I received information about a lake water fountain show that might possibly get built in Village Lake behind Pleasure Island. Before publishing it I wanted to get some verification on the rumor from at least a second source but before I could do that the website Screamscape published the same information, likely from the same source. So since there is already chatter about it out there, I might as well report to you what I was told.

This would supposedly get built in the lake and be visible to restaurant customers on the new PI as well as from the waterfront walkway on the West Side. The fountain show each evening would be synced to music and involve dancing waters, fire and water screens. This has not been finalized and there are logistical issues since the lake is a live lake and they would have to create a system to filter-out tiny organisms as well as not fry any of the fish out there!

From what I've been told, the water taxi system from resorts north of Village Lake would continue to operate to the Marketplace but the internal water taxi system to PI and House of Blues/Cirque would be discontinued. They are considering options to replace that, one of them being a trolley system that goes back and forth. Concept drawings show yellow street cars.

So that's the rumor. Presumably this would be a free show each night, meant to draw patrons to DTD evenings who would then eat and shop while there. This would not be an east coast version of Disney's World of Color, a show currently under construction at Disney's California Adventure theme park.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pleasure Island vs CityWalk

During the 70's & 80's, the place to party in Orlando was downtown and if you wanted to club-hop to multiple venues in one place, that place was Church Street Station. Disney saw so many people that were staying on-property flee during the evenings to CCS that they devised their own one-stop-club-hop locale: Pleasure Island. Opening in 1989, it put CCS out of business during the 90's. Ten years after PI, the transformation of Universal Studios into the Universal Orlando Resort included not only the addition of Islands of Adventure but also the party place known as CityWalk. For whatever reasons, Disney conceded nightlife to Universal with the closing of the PI nightclubs in 2008. Which is/was better? Well of course you're not going to get a blog dedicated to Pleasure Island to say that CityWalk is better. And it's not. But why?

Pleasure Island consisted of 7 clubs just as CityWalk does. PI had two of their seven dedicated to forms of comedy whereas CW has two of their seven dedicated to other niches, i.e. karaoke and dueling pianos. So that leaves 5 versus 5 music/dance clubs. Some of the comparisons are a wash. PI's Rock'n'roll Beach Club was dedicated to R&R but CW has Margaritaville dedicated to pretty much the same thing. PI had Motion dedicated to mostly Top 40 and CW is using The Groove for that. PI had BET Soundstage dedicated to Hip Hop and R&B where CW's Bob Marley's has a band playing mostly Reggae but the DJ plays Hip Hop/R&B between sets. So three of the five music clubs kind of cancel each other out. But it's those other two that put Pleasure Island over the top; the two that were the most highly-themed: 8TRAX and Mannequins.

The other two at CityWalk are Latin Quarter and Red Coconut Club and I like them both. I've learned a lot about Latin music at LQ and I particularly like when resident DJ Leony (of Sirius XM's BPM techno channel) plays some of his House-music sets. The eye candy in there can't be beat! RCC is cute but it's just a small version of The Groove playing the exact same music. It competes with Blue Martini, not with anything PI offered. The Groove did add 80's Night on Thursday nights and brought in former 8TRAX DJ Doc; that has been a win for them and they even added 70's music to the night last month. They offer 80's video games and some of the waitresses wear retro clothes. It's been slow this winter; things will pick up again as we move into the tourist seasons. I'd love to see The Groove add a Dance music night too; the futuristic-looking club was originally built as a techno club. Until then, we all mourn the loss 8TRAX and Mannequins. Will they rise again?

Friday, February 26, 2010

CityWalk & ADH Updates

The newest edition to CityWalk is Fat Tuesday, an outside bar featuring frozen concoctions i.e. alcoholic slushees! I've posted the new sign previously but now the construction wall has been removed and one can see the front facade. Looking forward to seeing what it looks like behind that overhead door. FT replaces Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs which seemed to rarely be open!
Had time for a quick swing through Atlantic Dance Hall last night at Disney's Boardwalk Resort. In the booth, lighting tech Elisa (Mannequins) was getting wacky with DJ Frankie of Frankie & The West End Boys (West End Stage/RRBC). There was actually a pretty good crowd on hand for a Thursday night. Expect large crowds tonight and Saturday night because it's "ESPN The Weekend" time with lots of visitors coming to town. Look for DJ Talie (Motion) in the booth tonight and DJ Pat on Saturday night. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

PI Rumor Update

Time to update the latest rumors from Pleasure Island based on information provided by different sources:

ADVENTURERS CLUB: Original plan was to reopen AC at the new Night Kingdom. Since that theme park is questionable as to whether it well ever get built, the latest discussion (and it's only discussion at this point) is either to put AC at Flamingo Crossings or into a new nostalgia section at Disney Hollywood Studios. One thing is certain I'm told; AC will never return to Pleasure Island.

COMEDY WAREHOUSE: As mentioned earlier this week, sources say interactive comedy will be returning to Pleasure Island. I don't know that it will be called Comedy Warehouse but I put this rumor under that name because it most-closely fits into that club's former method of operation. And the CW sign is still on the building.

ULTRA LOUNGES: I've reported on the rumors of restaurants coming to PI but the latest is that they're rethinking the mix of what would be on the island to include so called "ultra lounges". Instead of clubs that focused on drinking and dancing, these would focus more on individual guest experiences. They want to capture what made the former clubs so popular and adapt it to lounge concepts.

So many rumors have come and gone since this Blog was created and most have turned out to be false. However, just because something never happened doesn't mean the rumor wasn't true at the time it was reported. The story on PI continues to evolve. Clearly they had plans for the Island that fell through due to the economy. They have to adapt to current economic conditions which have largely not improved. Demolition rumors continue to persist and it makes sense that if they're going to complete projects by 2012, they've got to begin work in 2010. Everyone would LOVE if AC reopened anywhere! A comedy club certainly fits a family-friendly atmosphere and CW (or similar) reopening makes a lot of sense, even if outsourced with a cover charge. Regarding ultra lounges, I've previously reported on a Polar Ice Bar opening on the island, perhaps as part of the Winter Wonderland restaurant concept. But Red Coconut Club at CityWalk and Blue Martini at Mall of Millenia are ultra lounges and they both feature live house bands, DJ's and dancing. Could dancing in any form return to PI? I'd sure love 8TRAX to reopen in an ultra lounge format! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DJ Austin Leeds This Weekend at Bliss

Bliss Ultra Lounge tries to bring in at least one House/Techno DJ on a Saturday night each month. This Saturday they've got Miami-based House/Progressive DJ Austin Leeds playing. Local DJ Chad Andrew and resident DJ Mickey Bono will be opening. I was not able to locate an admission price; typically it's $10 when they have a guest DJ. Drinks are $3 until 11:30pm!

New Downtown Disney Signage

With Downtown Disney already housing two restaurants operated by Landry's Restaurants (Rainforest Cafe & T-REX) and rumors of several new Landry-operated restaurants coming to Pleasure Island, Disney has gone ahead and changed the DTD entry signs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

PI Update: Is Celebrate Tonight Ending?

Those people who publish the Disney Guidemaps often seem to know what's coming and going before anything official is ever announced. Guidemaps are issued throughout the year so that visitors have the latest information. By studying them you can sometimes see existing attractions disappear and new ones appear. For instance, last year we saw Starabilias disappear off the Downtown Disney Guidemap before anything about them was announced.

If you look at the 11/09 edition of the DTD Guidemap (above left) you can plainly see Celebrate Tonight listed (improperly listed as Celebration Tonight). Well the 2/10 edition was recently issued (above right) and its gone. Oversight? Perhaps, but it took deliberate effort to remove the dot off the map, the listing corresponding to that dot and then renumber everything else. Is Celebrate Tonight's run coming to an end? What are YOU celebrating?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

PI Update: Demolition Coming Soon?

If I'm going to take the blame for bringing Illinois weather to Orlando last month then I'm sure as heck going to take credit for bringing Puerto Rico weather here. Beautiful mid-70's Orlando day today. And what better place to hang out than Pleasure Island!

Is demolition nearing for the Adventurers Club/Soundstage building? A few months ago Soundstage was stripped of electronics and lighting and Adventurers Club had its major artifacts removed off the walls and supposedly shipped to Hong Kong Disneyland. A few items remained but sources confirm that everything else was removed this past Thursday and loaded onto trucks. Included was the removal of the famous "Come in a Stranger, Leave a Little Stranger" sign. The file photo above shows what it looked like and as you can see, it's now gone!

Elsewhere on the island, a good look at how bushes and planters at Celebration Plaza completely hide the entrance to what was Comedy Warehouse. But get this: Sources say that some kind of interactive comedy WILL be returning to PI! I have no details. Meanwhile, back on the Waterfront behind Mannequins, all the new boards and the rest of the Waterfront Stage have been freshly painted. So there must be future plans for this small venue. Maybe they're bringing back Hip Kitty or Frankie & the West End Boys!

As reported yesterday, Vinylmation is a new store going into where Planet Hollywood On Location operated until February 1st at DTD West Side. Will these little 3" vinyl figurines be the new Beanie Babies of this decade? They are kind of cute but hardly cuddly. And there were a few shelves of them for sale at the DisneyQuest Gift Shop but there were no mobs fighting for them. They're $9.95 each. An entire store of these?

Club Reports: CityWalk

Decided to leave the camera home for a change last night and just go have fun at CityWalk. A lot of people leaving Universal Studios from the Blondie concert apparently stayed on at CW because all the clubs were packed to the rafters. It was difficult to move inside The Groove and the Red Coconut. Partiers were tossing beads from the balcony above Pat O'Brians. I did not go into Bob Marley's but the line to get in had at least 50 people in it. A free live band was playing on the center stage. DJ AJ at The Groove played mostly hip hop and mashups. And looking up at the booth in RCC it looked like DJ Smooth from (and formerly of XM BPM) spinning a similar mix. Went upstairs and sure enough, that was him. Another big name in the DJ AJ stable of disc jockeys! Smooth is also doing Sunday nights at The Groove and I hope to check that out soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vinylmation Coming to DTD West Side

A couple sources reported that D-Street Vinylmation was opening in the spot vacated earlier this month by Planet Hollywood On Location. But this is not a rumor; some initial decor is already on the windows and doors as shown in this photo from the Vinylmation website. This is some kind of cross between a Build-a-Bear Workshop and a collectibles store which certainly does bring something pretty unique to DTD. And that's good. Roving reporters will be providing more pics soon.

DJ bt Coming to Orlando

I don't call Orlando "Techno-Town" for no reason; a town known for the development of many top DJ's also draws top DJ's! The parade continues with DJ bt (USA) spinning at Club Firestone Live on March 27th. And just like DJ Paul Oakenfold (GB) a few weeks ago, we're getting him on a Saturday night! bt is also a big-time producer; you will recognize his work in the DJ Tiësto (NL) hits Love Comes Again and Break My Fall. But you'll also recognize him for songs like Somnambulist:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Club Reports: San Juan, PR

With just one night to spend in San Juan it's impossible to get to learn many clubs. Late afternoon was spent wandering around Old San Juan and while I saw many bars, I did not see anything that looked like a club. So I stuck with a couple casino hotels in the tourist districts to see what was happening. At the Eternal lobby bar inside the Condado Plaza Resort & Casino in Condado (above), things were slow. Even the casino wasn't very crowded. They have live DJ's on weekend nights and I'm told it gets pretty crowded.

Things were considerably more lively at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino in Isla Verde. The lobby bars were packed and they had a DJ spinning 70's & 80's over to the side. It was like a night at 8TRAX as he spun one classic after another. The lack of a formal dance floor did not keep lobby bar patrons from getting up and doing the Boogie!

I quizzed a lot of people about where was the best club in San Juan and everyone mentioned Brava in the same hotel. Hotel guests enter for free but it was $20 for those staying at cheaper hotels! But it was worth it. DJ LM (pictured above) knew his music and the club was packed. I came in around midnight hearing an hour of Hip Hop, DJ Kabuto came on and moved into about an hour of fast-beat Reggaeton and then to my pleasant surprise, LM was back on and played an hour of House/Techno/Dance. Put this club on your list if you're ever in San Juan!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greetings from San Juan

Greetings from San Juan, Puerto Rico where it's a toasty warm evening....the way Orlando is supposed to be in winter! I've come here for a sole reason and that's to answer the question that is on everyone's mind: Is it Latin Night everynight at every club in Puerto Rico? I'm going to investigate. In the meanwhile, I can tell you that flipping through radio stations in my rental car was like going to Latin Quarter. And I was proud of myself for actually recognizing some of the songs! The only English station I could find was 105-Jamz out of Charlotte Amalie, USVI. It was Hip Hop and R&B all-the-way with reggae thrown in. Kind of like BET Soundstage and Bob Marley's merged. Dats da ting!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Weekend In Techno Town

You know about Ferry Corsten at Roxy on Thursday night. Here are several other options for the upcoming weekend for PI fans:

8TRAX fans will enjoy DJ Doc on Thursday night at The Groove.
Motion fans will like DJ Tony on Friday night at Atlantic Dance, DJ AJ on Saturday night at The Groove and DJ Richie Rich on Saturday night at Tabu.
Mannequins fans will love DJ Mickey Bono at Bliss Ultra Lounge as well as DJ Dominick Morrison at Vintage, both on Saturday night.
Comedy Warehouse fans might enjoy comedian Bob Saget from Full House and America's Funniest Videos on Friday night at Hard Rock Live.
Blondie is the featured artist this Saturday night at Universal Studios!
Sunday night it's Service Industry Night at House of Blues featuring resident DJ Sandy and special guest DJ Richie Rich! Expect techno baby!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ferry Corsten Thursday Night

The #7 DJ in the world, Ferry Corsten (NL) performs this Thursday night at Roxy Night Club in Orlando. Doors open at 10pm. DJ's Jimmy Joslin & Andy Hughes (both USA) are opening so don't expect Ferry on stage until around 12:30. A couple of his better-known hits include Mannequins-favorites Rock Your Body Rock and Fire. Tickets are just $15. Don't miss it!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Does anyone out there remember a club called 8TRAX?
OMG, I miss this place!

PI Reunion Video

Former PI patron Ken "The Robot" was out at ADH Saturday night and captured some film at the beginning of the evening featuring a large group of mostly guys who used to do dance routines over at Motion. There's a couple 8TRAX girls in the second routine that begins around 2:15 into the video. Rather than you have to copy and paste a link over to YouTube, this is too good not to bring directly to you here on the Blog. Ken says this was taken around 10pm before it got crowded. I only wish you had taken more!!