Disney Silences the Song of the Adventurers Club

It is New Years Eve, 1937 and you have been invited to attend a very special party at the Adventurer’s Club, a unique place filled with unique people. You descend the stairs from the Zebra Mezzanine, noting the attendees are world adventurers (or people who claim they are), and the walls of the Main Salon are covered with artifacts and bric-a-brac gathered from locations as diverse as Antarctica to Zanzibar.

Zeus Goes Fishing

You note the bronze statue of Zeus, with his rod and creel. You look up at the stone edifice of Babylonia, goddess of all things fertile and tip your fedora to the Club Gleemeister, Colonel Critchlow Suchbench, who pays you no mind. You jimmy the lock and slip into the Library, moving over to the haunted organ, fish a Liberty half dollar out of the watch pocket of your vest, and drop it into Fingers Zambezi’s over-sized brandy snifter. You hear the sharp crack of knuckles and watch as the keys of the organ seem to move without provocation and the tune, “My Funny Valentine,” fills the Library. You slip out a side door as the main door opens.

Straightening your tie, you walk into the Mask Room and watch for a few minutes as the masks of Arnie and Claude banter back and forth. You feel something brush up against you. You turn and see a maid with auburn tresses who gives you a wink and pops her gum in synchronicity. Graves the butler, standing behind her, clears his throat and she moves off, swishing her feather duster as she goes. Graves addresses you as, “Sir,” and presents a silver tray containing a glass tumbler three quarters filled with a 50-year-old adult beverage. You accept the proffered drink and move on to the Treasure Room as Beezle the genie makes an appearance for the clubs new inductees. He sees you and bows as you incline your head in his direction. Just then, you hear a fanfare coming from the Main Salon and you head back that way. Colonel Suchbench is finishing a song and beginning the official Club Song. You join in.


The Library doors open, initiates, and full members alike enter for the night’s festivities. You take out your pocket watch and note the 10:00 hour. It is just two hours until 1938. You close the watch, replace it in your vest, and follow the crowd into the Library for the evening main entertainment.
The preceding is the type of experience and entertainment you could enjoy at the Adventurers Club on Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney while staying at Walt Disney World. Correction, not “could enjoy” but could have enjoyed, because Disney has shuttered the Adventures Club, perhaps forever.

On May 1st, 1989, The Adventures Club opened on Disney’s Pleasure Island along with a number of other clubs, restaurants, and stores at the Walt Disney World Resort. The Disney Imagineers, led by Head Writer, Show Producer, and Show Director, Roger Cox and designer, Joe Rohde (designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom) styled the interior after a 1937 era private club for explorers and world travelers. The walls of the club were festooned with photographs and artifacts from countless expeditions and explorations. The Adventurers Club featured audio-animatronics, puppets, and a cast of characters and adventurers who performed in scripted shows and improvisational comedy. The shows and cast conversations were often laced with innuendo, while they mingling with the club's patrons who were often referred to as initiates, fellow adventurers, or simply “drunks.”

The cast of live characters were large: Aviator and ladies’ man, Hathaway Browne. Club Treasurer and ichthyologist, Otis T. Wren. Befuddled Club Curator, Fletcher Hodges. Club President and socialite, Pamela Perkins. Explorer and cabaret singer, Samantha Sterling. Junior Adventurer and contender for the Balderdash Cup, Emil Bleehall. The mysterious rarely seen and gypsy, Madame Zarkov, Club Butler and trumpeter of announcements, Graves, along with too many maids to name.


The group of faux cast members included: Club Gleemeister and cable-controlled puppet, Colonel Critchlow Suchbench. The stone-faced goddess of women and all things fertile, Babylonia who would sometimes speak to the mounted animal head of the Yakoose. These three could be found in the Main Salon. In the Mask Room were Arnie and Claude, who were (as you might have guessed) talking masks. The Treasure Room contained the disembodied head of Beezle, a genie. The Library is the domain of the disembodied "Fingers" Zambezi and his haunted organ. Each of these characters is a combination of mechanical magic and human actor.

Lastly, there was the cast of characters who were either only referred to, but never seen, or those who appeared in the early or closing days of the clubs existence: Sutter Bestwick, Emil Bleehall, Sr, Sheila Griffin, Chilton Thompson, and Marcel, a man in an ape suit who appeared in the early days of the club and in the final Hoopla on September 27, 2008, the clubs closing night. Marcel would invite the clubs permanent members to join him on a yearlong safari.

On June 17th, 2008, Disney announced they would be “. . . taking the Downtown Disney experience to the next level. We are doing this through enhancements to existing Downtown Disney locations. Extraordinary new shopping, dining and other experiences including a completely re-imagined Pleasure Island, and enhanced theming and story telling brought to life by Disney Imagineers.” Disney also released the statement that “. . . it’s consistent with our commitment to regularly evaluating and refreshing our product to ensure it is relevant to our Guests and providing them with new and exciting experiences they can only have at Walt Disney World Resort. In addition, our Guests are telling us that they want additional shopping and dining experiences at Downtown Disney and we want to position Downtown Disney for long-term success.”

My interpretation of those statements is the operating costs of the Pleasure Island clubs - 8 Trax, The Adventurer's Club, BET Sound-Stage Club, Mannequins Dance Palace, Motion, and The Comedy Warehouse (my personal favorite) – were too high or the revenues generated were too low and Disney wanted a bigger profit. I believe that they have removed several reasons for going to Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island and they may well see a loss of revenue for some time to come. Over 8,200 people signed the on-line petition to save the Adventurers Club and I share their hope that Disney will reconsider and perhaps resurrect the AC in a fitting venue, perhaps the new Animal Kingdom Lodge. It would indeed be a shame to lose this unique and eclectic entertainment venue forever.

In closing, I give you the Adventurer's Club Creed:

We climb the highest mountains,
just to get a better view.
We plumb the deepest oceans,
because we're daring through and through.
We cross the scorching desert,
martinis in our hand.
We ski the polar ice caps,
in tuxedos looking grand.
We are reckless, brave, and loyal,
and valiant to the end.
If you come in here a stranger,
you will exit as a friend.


The Colonel

The Toast Song

Adventurers Club - Poisoning Pigeons in the Par

Under the Scotsman's Kilt

A Song for Halloween - "Walking Dead"

A song from the Christmas Show - "Pretty Little Dolly"

"Icky Yucky Sushi" song

Adventurers Club Final Night - Balderdash Cup Part 1 9/27/08

The Petition
Peter David's Comments
A brief history of the Club
Early rumblings of trouble
Disney forum on the changes
Pleasure Island FAQ
"This American Life." Go to position 48 minutes.

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