having visited Pleasure Island at least once a year since 1994, i’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the nightspot. it’s where i met my current boyfriend and most of my closest friends. and over 13 years, i’ve watched it disintegrate.
when the place opened in 1989, it was shiny and full of bright, happy late 80s colours. lots of aqua and hot pink, much like my wardrobe at that time. and for a long time the island remained bright and colourful and stuck in the era of parachute pants and crimped hair (not part of my wardrobe). the design was cheesy and dated, but remained mostly consistent throughout the nine acres. the miami sound machine had long disbanded, but you could go to PI and still feel like the rhythm was gonna get you.
in 2006, PI underwent some construction that resulted in the demolition of two stages, and effectively wiping out outdoor entertainment there. a recent visit revealed most of the shops to be empty, foot traffic to be almost non-existent, and no more bright colours. all pretenses of the island being a series of warehouses and mentions of Merriweather Pleasure have been eradicated, except for plaques remaining in the Adventurers Club. the colour scheme has been toned down. the beige bridges are not beckoning the young club-goer.
architecturally, not much has changed except the removal of outdoor stages and a wider bridge onto the island. the colour scheme for the railings and ticket trolleys is jewel-toned, but it doesn’t read well in the dark. the neon signs have not been updated and retain the hot pinks and aquas of yesteryear.
with the closing of nightclubs–the Rock N Roll Beach Club closed within the past month–and the addition of generic themed restaurants and shops, WDW is allowing their brand to be infiltrated and tarnished. the company is sacrificing personality and coherence for dollar signs. will it be worth it in the end?