The Ruins of Disney Dreams

I’ve always been fascinated by ruins.  I never really knew it, though, until my Dad and I drove down to Disney World on Spring Break in 1980.

Just outside of Daytona on I-95 we passed an area on the right that was new to me — I had never seen it before — but it was overgrown with scrubrush and toppling to the earth.  It was the ruins of some amusement park, built on an I-95 outparcel to capitalize on the proximity of Disney World — and somehow, it failed.  Utterly.

As soon as I spied those ruins between the trees, I was captivated.  When we drove back, I looked for them again, and saw them.  In those few seconds, an idea was born, and a trilogy of novels blossomed in my head — which I will write in the next few years.

Disney World, itself, now has a few ruins.  Its first water park, River Country, was closed years ago, and the more upscale and sanitary Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach replaced it.  But the old-fashioned swimmin’ hole is still there.  But it ain’t the way Walt ever dreamed of.

Ruins.  Go here to see the pictures — it’s sad, and amazing, and beautiful, all at the same time.

Years ago, Philip Wylie wrote a novel called, “The End of the Dream.”  I’ve never read it — never even seen a paperback copy in a used book store — but the title is appropriate when regarding the unsanctimonious and undeserved death of Disney’s Pleasure Island.  Truly, it was the only place on 42 square miles of Disney property where adults could go and have fun — dancing, dining, drinking, sans kids…and they closed it all, not because it wasn’t bringing in a whole lot of revenue, but it just wasn’t enough.  The island didn’t meet Disney’s profit margin, nor the company’s future financial goals.

Greed killed Pleasure Island.

The most Disneyesque nightclub on that man-made island was the Adventurers Club, and it was filled with not only wonderful characters (and some actors who have since become best friends) but the building itself was stuffed with strange and wondrous artifacts, all real, yet all given backstories of the most fictional origins, was the main character.

That building, closed to the general public for just about a year, open only to banquets and private parties since then, is now permanently closed…and in immediate ruins.  It looks like the large pieces and artifacts remain, but everything on the walls —

History.

A friend of mine is at Disney World as I write this, and about an hour ago he raised a glass of bourbon on his balcony at the Grand Floridian and toasted the memory of Pleasure Island as a favor to me.

I toast all my friends, and all the actors and people that I became close with..and I toast the loss of Disney for Grown-Ups.

We were there, when.

Now, it’s ruins…all in the name of profit margin.  These pictures are from Screamscape.com.  I lightened them up in PhotoShop so you can see them a little clearer, but nevertheless, it’s all very sad.

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2 thoughts on “The Ruins of Disney Dreams

  1. So Mickey can't do shots with you? Does every little child at heart need to see Cinderella pole dance? Or are you saying like every other greedy corporation like entertainment, the BOTTOM LINE is the most important mission. The vision of pure happiness can not live forever.

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  2. Even if something is very profitable and very popular — like Pleasure Island proved to be — Disney will kill it if it does not meet their expectations. PI was packed almost every night — but empty during the day. That failure was Disney Corporate's failure, not PI's. Instead of finding a way to make the only area for adults profitable in the daylight, they closed it. Now the closest place people have to go is Universal's Citywalk — which, by the way, is profitable all day long. They figured it out — why couldn't Disney?PROFIT MARGIN.

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