Saturday, November 24, 2012

PI Update: The Island Circa 1997

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE During my recent visit to Theme Park Connection in Winter Garden I was able to snag some old Downtown Disney Guidemaps.  This is a fascinating look back to life on the Island circa 1997.
Studying over this thing, one can see that #7 Neon Armadillo Music Saloon is mentioned but it has #2 BET Soundstage Club next to it with "Opens Spring 1998" next to it.  Hip Hop was just beginning to surge in popularity and this was PI's answer.  But not giving up on Country music, #13 Wildhorse Saloon is listed as "Opens Spring 1998!".
Back in these days both #11 Waterfront Stage and #12 West End Stage were the places for live bands; the latter also home to the nightly NYE fireworks celebration as well.  The #5 Hub Stage had a huge video wall with bands and dancers.
Who can forget the lineup of shops: Avigators, DTV, Island Depot, Reel Finds, Suspended Animation, Changing Attitudes.  A large order of french fries at 1am from Missing Link Sausage Company helped absorb alcohol!

The Guidemap was weekly back in those days and the Must See section described that week's entertainment lineup.  Of course Frankie & The West End Boys were on the West End Stage!  But look, Robyn (S) was also appearing, as was Lou Rawls (USA)!  The Pleasure Island Explosion Dancers appeared at both the Hub Stage and Mannequins8TRAX was strictly a 70's club at the time but Thursdays it became 80's TRAX while Thursdays at Mannequins became DV8, the best of retro-progressive and progressive house.  Come on out and make a night of beautiful Pleasure Island!


FN said...

PI was a dynamically-run and aggressively managed venue and it had a good, long run. With all of Disney's creative talent and business savvy, if profit took a dive, or if the type of patrons it drew was undesirable, why was it not "saved?" I often think that Disney is committed to change just for the sake of change -- to continue in the vein of updating and "plussing" think in the way that Walt Disney was fond of doing. But then economic downturn, internal disagreements on how to proceed, or even internal funding and creative paralysis are other possible reasons we lost Pleasure Island. So today we are left with a very large and noticeable gap in the Downtown Disney waterfront. But there is hope because the real estate still has tremendous potential. We just have to wait, and because we have great expectations from Disney, that wait is very difficult for us.

KingBob said...

As the map demonstrates, back then they invested in the Island by making strategic changes by, as you say, "updating and plussing". Ten years later they would not do that, not wanting to invest in anything new. The same old product coupled with next to no marketing expenditures led to the downturn in attendence. Many say on purpose. And that led to them wanting to close everything and outsource it for restaurants and shops. And now 4+ years later, still nothing.

71 said...

Three clubs with live music, in addition to the music on the outside stage. Shows by live dancers (who also used to pop up inside Mannequins). An interesting mix of shops. Nightly fireworks.

All this disappeared long before the doors finally shut, but all helped make PI into something transcendent.

The sad thing is, wipe everyone's memory, and say WDW announces this, the 1997 version, is being built somewhere on property. The online reaction would rival the Star Wars purchase.

Anonymous said...

The only way the Island will ever work properly again is when someone from above finally gets the guts to reopen the Clubs and turnstile off the Island to the underage. That is the only way this situation should end.

KingBob said...

71, with Reedy Creek proposing a new fire station way out on Western Way, there was some scuttle (again) about it being associated with a new adult entertainment area out there. That would be a great place to put it but I think it more has to do with the need for fire protection out at Flamingo Crossings so that construction can begin.

Anon, no one from above seems willing to do anything for all the "grown-ups" on-property.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to buy a powerball ticket for tonights 325 millon drawing

Anonymous said...

I never could figure out why MDP was 21 and up. The comedy warehouse show often crossed the PG13 line way more than anything at MDP.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Mannequins being 21+ had anything to do with what was happening INSIDE Mannequins, it was mainly the very young that they wanted to keep OUTSIDE Mannequins.

Brian said...

I was glad Mannequins was 21+
so everyone in Mannequins can drink! and not use up space with 18 to 20 Year olds who could not!