In the spirit of the “In Memoriam” segment found in the upcoming, well-known Hollywood awards show, the WDW Radio Blog will be honoring Walt Disney World attractions and/or locations we have loved and lost over the years.
“Welcome to Adventurers Club
You who crave danger and snicker at fear
Will find most agreeable company here!
Thrill seekers, nomads, high fliers and low
Rovers, explorers, and getters and go
From every far corner, you’ll meet at this hub
The world is your oyster, the pearl is our club!!
In 1989 at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island, a very special and rare night time entertainment venue opened. Adventurers Club was much more than a typical night club, with loud music, flashing lights, and dancing strangers. The brain child of notable Imagineers Joe Rohde (currently Executive Designer and Creative Vice President) and Craig McNair Wilson, Adventurers Club was part improv-comedy show, musical revue, and immersive theater. Unlike other offerings located at Pleasure Island, Adventurers Club was richly detailed with intricate, hand selected props, housed a truly unique cast of characters, and focused on backstory.
At it’s core, Adventurers Club was a hopping 1930’s club for explorers, travelers, and world adventures. Lucky Walt Disney World guests found themselves at the doors to this club on New Years Eve 1937. A fortuitous circumstance given that New Years Eve historically marked the annual open house and recruitment event. Brave recruits entered via the main door and were immediately transported back in time. Here on the Zebra Mezzanine, eagle eyed guests not only found their introduction to the wonderfully peculiar cluttered club but the beginning pieces of the venue’s backstory. Proudly displayed on the walls with the antique-y brick-a-brac, framed pictures of people executing daring feats offered additional information on current club members. This second floor view also offered guests the ability to gaze down into the main lobby of the club.
Once in the Main Salon, the party really began! Set as a circular room, complete with open bar, this room afforded guests a central meeting area for the night’s events. From this spot, multiple rooms radiated like spokes off of a hub. Throughout the night, guests were invited to visit the mask room, treasure room, and library to partake in Adventurers Club festivities. No two nights were the same at Adventurers Club as a talented cast of characters would heckle, sing, laugh, and improv the night away. Some of the different shows and activities that guests could see (and participate in) included; a Serial Radio Thriller Broadcast, Balderdash Cup competition (club members competed to see who had the most riveting adventure story), Second Annual Radio-thon Talent Show (in order to raise $2,000 for rent!), Adventurers Cabert, Maid’s Sing-a-long, Rhythm Ritual, and Bon Voyage Hoopla. Each show lasted between 15 to 20 minutes, and it truly was worth seeing as many as possible.
The club members were even more varied than the activities and consisted of permanent figures (puppets, special effects) and live character actors. The stationery figures included Babylonia (a giant stone face in the Main Salon’s wall), Colonel Critchlow Suchbench (a cable controlled puppet), Fingers Zambini (my personal favorite, a haunted organ found in The Library), Beezle (a genie found in the Treasure Room), and Arnie and Claude (talking Bacchanalian inspired masks in…you guessed it, The Mask Room). An average of 10 actors brought the club members to life every night. (In order to keep up the performance level, there were two complete casts that would rotate nights). Some of the members guests would encounter throughout the night included; Pamelia Perkins (club president), Professor Otis T. Wren (club treasurer and bird enthusiast), Grave (club butler), Nash (club bartender), The Maid (the only character whose name changed nightly), Hathaway Brown (aviator and self proclaimed ladies man), Fletcher Hodges (club curator and know-it-all), Samantha Sterling (adventuresome storyteller), Madam Zarkov (a gypsy), and Emil Bleehall (a bumbling junior adventurer).
Unfortunately, on September 27, 2008, the Adventurers Club cast gave it’s last public performance. Closing the club’s doors and its membership in order to make way for the massive Disney Springs project. Thus proving the Adventurers Club’s motto “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. But always dress for the hunt!” KUNGALOOSH!!
Erin Stough has always loved Disney, but the magic of the parks truly captured her imagination during a mother-daughter trip in 2001. The obsession began and Erin hasn’t looked back! When she isn’t devouring Disney related books, Erin spends time with her wonderful (and patient) husband and super pup Milo.