Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PI Update: Will Island Remain In Limbo?

Earlier this week Disney announced that it was not going to build a stand-alone hotel at the property it purchased at National Harbor just outside Washington DC back in 2009. According to Orlando Sentinel reporter Jason Garcia* who specializes in the financial end of the Walt Disney Company, investor pressure is on the company to cut-back on its capital spending as soon as it finishes current capital commitments such as the second new cruise ship, Shanghai Disneyland, the Fantasyland expansion, AvatarLand and the stand-alone but problematic Aluani Resort on Oahu, Hawaii.

But what does this have to do with Pleasure Island? Well we know that whatever was planned for the Island after the clubs were shut-down in September, 2008 never happened.  There were no takers for more restaurants and shops, at least at Disney's asking prices. One year ago Disney tried to jump-start interest by unveiling the Island's conversion to a place to be called Hyperion Wharf.  That plan was shelved or at least indefinitely postponed this past Spring, to be reworked.  A well-sourced rumor at the time indicated that outside vendors would be allowed to reopen the former clubs as clubs, just with different names.  Yet that hasn't happened and here we are right now with a lot of unused buildings.

With Disney apparently facing scrutiny for any large projects, Hyperion Wharf can't happen for years as it's way too expensive. The simplest solution is to proceed with allowing outside sources to reopen some of the Island's clubs and start paying rent. No serious renovations would be needed to reopen Mannequins, 8TRAX, Soundstage and Comedy Warehouse.  In fact, new state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems would be cheap outlays in Disney-terms and could be generating revenue within months of a green light.  The prior rumor had new vendors operating under Disney's blanket liquor license, something allowed under Florida law. So that's not a stumbling block either.  Disney needs to get on with this. Because if they don't, we're looking at many more years of nothing on Pleasure Island.
See the full Orlando Sentinel article here: Jason Garcia     

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

PI Update: The Tale of the Funmeister

Little is know of the whereabouts of the original wooden Funmeister that used to adorn its own totem pole on beautiful Pleasure Island.  It was originally discovered by Merriweather Adam Pleasure in 1911 as he steamed through the Florida Barge Canal System looking for the ideal place to create his new home. When he spotted it on the shores of what would later be named Village Lake, he knew this was the spot to build his Pleasure Island.  He is the one who named the totem Funmeister

The Funmeister was ultimately replaced with a metal and glass model and even this stood over the Island until late 2010 when it was finally removed more than two years after the fun had departed. The complete story of the Funmeister and the history of Pleasure Island can be found on Mouse Planet as retold by their writer Wade Simpson:
Thanks to reader Ian for sharing this story with us!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PI Update: Remembering Celebrate Tonight

The night of September 28, 2008 was an unusual night on beautiful Pleasure Island. It was the first night that there were no clubs open, it was off-season and it was thus mostly empty. Those traversing the Island reported an eerie feeling. Crickets could be heard chirping. An unanticipated development of the club-closings had immediately surfaced; the silence was scary! Something had to be done. And that something was a spin on Disney's 2009 Celebrate Today! advertising theme: Celebrate Tonight! (CLICK ON ANY ONE PHOTO TO ENLARGE ALL PHOTOS)

The initial set-up (above left) in April, 2009 and what it looked like later, complete with hut. West End Plaza became Celebration Plaza.

DJ's and dance staff were hired. Initially the process involved stopping passers-by and asking them, on microphone, "What are you celebrating?" Invariably most people weren't celebrating anything and the conversations often went nowhere. It was excruciatingly painful to watch. During the 14 months of Celebrate Tonight's existence, the spiel evolved into games, music and dancing. There could be decent crowds in-season and on peak nights.

Of course stiltwalkers were mandatory at such events.

Celebrate Tonight took place on cold days in winter as well as the hot sweltering days in summer. There were cancellations only for rain (and once for snow!)

A variety of DJ's were on the Celebrate Tonight staff in order to keep this operating every evening. There were usually two on duty during each celebration with one up in the booth and the other working the plaza. DJ Willie (The Groove) & DJ Talie (Atlantic Dance Hall)(with J.B. from Mannequins) are among those pictured above.

The Save Pleasure Island Blog was the first to mention the possible shut-down of Celebrate Tonight when it noticed that CT was no longer listed in the Downtown Disney Guidemap. Sure enough, the celebration came to an end in June, 2010 with DJ G-Clef (Red Coconut Club) closing it out.

Club Reports: Ember, Dragon Room, Bliss Ultra Lounge, The Beacham

Sorry for the picture quality in this article but my new camera slipped into a weird mode that I could not recover from without the owner's manual. But on with the show! First stop Ember which is an inside restaurant and an outdoor courtyard. Popular place where you might spot an Orlando Magic player or two.

In this kind of weather the courtyard is where it's at as happy hour merges into later hours.  DJ Adam Wells had the outside duty mixing Top 40 and House/Dance.

Music during my visit include some Classic Dance songs such as Snap!'s Rhythm Is A Dancer to the more recent Bounce by DJ Calvin Harris.

And the city skyline towers over the location.

First visit to Dragon Room in nearly two years!

DJ Freefall was on the boards spinning mostly Top 40/Dance although he says it becomes a lot more Hip Hop as it gets later.  Freefall is the Thursday/Friday night resident DJ at Vintage Lounge.

But there didn't seem to be any objections to his House set as people were dancing in a number of different places!

But for the best Saturday night Dance music downtown you have to go to Bliss Ultra Lounge!

DJ Mickey Bono (Beat Thrillerz, K5,, is the Saturday night resident DJ playing 100% House and Dance.

During my visit the club went from busy..... packed!

With dancing on the main floor and up in the VIP area.

Alas Saturday nights are no longer AAHZ nights at The Beacham. :-(

But DJ Richie Rich (House of Blues) packs them in nonetheless!

The music is mostly Rhythmic Contemporary including Rap, Hip Hop and some Top 40/Dance too.

Saturdays are sponsored by Daytona/Orlando radio station 102JAMZ (WJHM) and a good time was had by all!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Favorite Female DJ's: What's New?

Here are updates on some of my favorite female DJ's. Sorry guys, you just can't compare!
DJ Baby Anne has a new downtempo mix show every Sunday night at 9pm on Don't miss this coming Sunday night when she plays a special tribute to the AAHZ boys!

DJ Jennifer Marley now has an every Saturday night gig at club LevelZ in West Melbourne. See flyer at left for specials. And don't miss her A.D.D. Tripp show weeknights at 6pm on
DJ Bella has done well with her new song "Got What Ya Need" along with husband and collaborator DJ Agent K. The Electro-Breakbeat song is available at Beatport. A new mix CD called "Hybrid Bass" will be out soon!
Have not heard from "Davie Angel" DJ Heather Collins in awhile. She's been working with Pure Cash Magazine but I've not seen her spinning since this past summer. Always great Classic Dance sets from Heather!
DJ Talie continues her sessions at Disney's Atlantic Dance Hall every Tuesday night into December. Check her out sometime as the holidays approach as she plays mostly Top 40 & Dance!  And the Cupid Shuffle at midnight!

West coast based DJ Heavygrinder has been touring Texas lately and seems to have been sticking with venues over in the other half of the country. Shown here posing for the Blog during her Orlando visit at Electric Daisy Carnival, she's way overdue for a trip to O-Town!

And last but not least, my other favorite is Trance specialist Sandra Collins who hasn't played Orlando since she opened for Paul Oakenfold at Destiny Night Club and then returned a few months later for her own show. She seems to stick with Vegas and the west coast and DJ's a lot down in Mexico. Come on back to Orlando, Sandra! She was totally wasted when she signed that autograph for me in the Destiny booth!

Friday, November 25, 2011

PI Update: A Lifetime of Memories

There was a time when some people purchased a Disney Vacation Club unit at the sprawling Saratoga Springs complex because of it's proximity to Pleasure Island. The purchase of a unit along the waterfront facing Village Lake not only put you within walking distance of the PI complex (no drinking and driving) but also gave you a view of the nightly New Years Eve fireworks show which took place out on the lake. With the removal of the turnstiles, the Island became open to everyone and it became a hangout for undesirables. To make it a less-attractive place to congregate, the shows on the West End Stage had to be eliminated along with the nightly fireworks. The unraveling began and with the Island's demise in 2008, Saratoga Springs retained its proximity to Downtown Disney but it lost its advantage for anyone interested in Pleasure Island's now mostly non-existent nightlife. A lifetime of past memories but no new ones being made. Does anyone even remember Pleasure Island? You know they want you to forget about it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Club Report: AAHZ Reunion III

Returned to AAHZ last night in the venue where it used to happen....The Beacham! CLICK ON ANY ONE PHOTO TO ENLARGE ALL.

The original Wizards of AAHZ were in attendance recreating Orlando's biggest club night ever including the invincible DJ Dave Cannalte (Mannequins).

DJ Chris Fortier was in the house as he was for this past summer's AAHZ Decade.

And back from his summer tour of southeast Asia, the one-and-only DJ Kimball Collins!

Spotted: DJ Andy Hughes (Electric Daisy Carnival-Orlando), DJ Leony (Sirius/XM BPM, Latin Quarter, with Dave Cannalte (Mannequins) & DJ The Reverend (Peacock Room, Bandwagon Roadshow)! Also, a closeup of Leony's awesome t-shirt.

Spotted: Lots of people I know were in the house including the above!

And a few others too. This had to be the largest crowd of the AAHZ Reunion events as the demand for EDM continues to increase. And a good time was had by all!