Let's Bring 'em Back

by Steve Russo, staff writer
Advertisement

Visit any Disney-themed website or blog and you’re likely to find an article or two (or twenty) regarding closed attractions. We all have a warm spot in our heart for Horizons, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Tomorrowland Skyway… you get the idea.

It’s very easy to sit back, and from the comfort of our keyboards, tell Disney they have to bring back Horizons. Practically speaking, I think we all understand the magnitude of an undertaking of that size. Nevertheless, we can dream, can’t we?

For this article, I’d like to take a bit of a different slant. Not only would I like to see a few of my favorite attractions back in action, I think I can offer a reasonably realistic plan to get them there. Now I don’t claim to be an Imagineer (although I often play one on the Internet) so when I say “reasonably realistic," I’ll leave the engineering, construction and costs to the experts and bean counters. I’ll handle the heavy lifting and leave the details to them.

Let’s begin with two of my favorite attractions from the now-defunct Pleasure Island (soon-to-be Disney Springs).

Comedy Warehouse

I’ve long been a fan of improvisational comedy and the Comedy Warehouse was an excellent venue. On each trip, we’d spend at least one night visiting this establishment and enjoying their versions of Schmeopardy and What’s My Line? We’d often see multiple shows, leaving and jumping right back in line. The beauty of improvisational comedy is that no two shows are alike. Many Warehouse fans shed a tear when the doors closed for good back in 2008.


The Comedy Warehouse. Photo by Steve Russo.

Did I say “for good?" Over the past few Holiday seasons, Disney has brought back the Comedy Warehouse for limited runs. This tells me there is still interest among the fan base and Disney management recognizes this so… let’s bring it back.

Where? I have the perfect venue. Have any of you ever been to the Atlantic Dance Hall? I didn’t think so. I visit the establishment only for Welcome Home Wednesdays, the weekly info-tainment show for Disney Vacation Club members. Bringing the Comedy Warehouse to this location for multiple nightly shows will help Disney fill a mostly vacant building, generate revenue through admission and drinks/snacks sales and bring additional people to Disney’s Boardwalk in the evening where they can enjoy the restaurants/bars, carnival games and free entertainment.


This could be the new home of the Comedy Warehouse. Photo by Steve Russo.

Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it? So’s the next one…

Adventurers Club

If the Comedy Warehouse had a loyal fan base, we’d have to call the aficionados of the Adventurers Club near fanatics. The Club, in its heyday, had almost a cult following of devoted customers. The theming was a 1930s private club for explorers and travelers. The walls were covered with artifacts and guests would interact with animatronics, puppets and cast members portraying several recurring characters. Show after show, night after night, you’d spot many of the same faces in the Mask Room or Library. To say it was unique entertainment would be an understatement.


The Adventurers Club. Photo by Steve Russo.

I’ll bet Disney still has the artifacts and cast members so all we need is the appropriate venue. Many have suggested Disney’s Animal Kingdom but I’m not convinced a theme park is the best setting. I know Disney has plans underway to make Animal Kingdom an “evening destination” but I think the Adventurers Club is better suited to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I don’t care whether we use Jambo House or Kidani Village—the theming of either would be consistent with the Adventurers Club. I’ll let the Imagineers sort out the best location for a re-purposing, or perhaps an addition to one of the buildings.


The motif fits. Photo by Steve Russo.

Think about it…dinner at Boma, Jiko or Sanaa followed by an evening at the Adventurers Club. Kungaloosh!

Image Works

It’s likely difficult for the current generation to fathom what I’m about to say—the Imagination Pavilion once housed three top-notch attractions. For those of us old enough to remember the original dark ride that featured the Dreamfinder and Figment, today’s incarnation is a very poor facsimile. At one time, the ride was very entertaining and… wait for it… the fun wasn’t over when the ride ended. We could venture upstairs to the Image Works, an area of fun, interactive exhibits reached via a walk through a colorful tunnel of multi-colored lights. One could easily spend 30–45 minutes leading an electronic orchestra, doctoring electronic images of your face or playing on the pin-table and then you could make your way into the theater for the very entertaining 3D film: Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.


Imagination Pavilion once housed great attractions. Photo by Steve Russo.

I recently listened to an interview with Disney Legend Tony Baxter and he indicated that Disney was aware of the issues with the latest ride, Journey Into Imagination...with Figment. While nothing was promised, my impression was that something would be changing here, hopefully sooner rather than later. When it does change, I urge Disney to bring back a new, updated Image Works.

Regarding the 3D film…I’m certainly aware that today’s generation of guests are likely not to have seen the film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Heck, many probably never heard of it. But… I think the 3D film could be enjoyed even without the foundation provided by the original film. I could be wrong but… in any case, I do think it would be a distinct improvement over the stale, dated Captain EO. But I wouldn’t be opposed to something new.

Odyssey Restaurant

Huh? The Odyssey? What is it? Do you know that angular building with the concrete walkways that connects Future World to World Showcase (Test Track to the Mexico Pavilion)? You probably know it as a restroom location (possibly the nicest restrooms in Epcot). Or perhaps you’ve visited the First Aid Station in the building? I’m told it also hosts some special events.


The Odyssey Restaurant circa 1984. Photo by Steve Russo.

Well, prior to its closing in 1994, the Odyssey was a very nice counter service establishment. I can recall dining outside, under cover on those angular walkways, enjoying lunch and a wonderful view of Epcot. I can’t swear to this but I’ve heard of character meals offered here. What I can attest to is seeing a live stage show (featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy) while having lunch. Sounds special, doesn’t it? So why did it close?


Dining outdoors at the Odyssey. Photo by Steve Russo.

I have no idea but I believe Epcot needs another counter service restaurant and I’m bringing the Odyssey back. The building is still there as are the restrooms. If it’s being used for special events, there’s also a kitchen so…

Wonders of Life

Here’s another quiz for the younger Disney World fans: What’s that building tucked back in the trees, between Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Mission: Space? If you’ve visited during Epcot’s Food and Wine or Flower and Garden festivals, you may have visited the building for some shopping or a seminar. Once upon a time, this was the Wonders of Life: a pavilion dedicated to, er… the wonders of life.


The Wonders of Life pavilion. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The main floor was filled with some very neat interactive exhibits: you could “ride” a stationary bicycle through Disneyland; hit a baseball or golf ball while being recorded and get some expert advice on your swing from a sports celebrity; or just get some helpful and healthy advice about diet and exercise.

The building also housed three attractions:

  • Body Wars – was a simulator ride (think Star Tours) that offered a ride through the human body, after being shrunk down to the size of a blood cell (think Fantastic Voyage for you film buffs);
  • The Making of Me – featured Martin Short explaining, in a very safe, Disney way, where babies come from. And my personal favorite…
  • Cranium Command – offered a few minutes inside the mind (and body) of an adolescent boy. It was funny, very creative and featured a very appropriate cast of celebrities portraying the various body parts (left and right brain, stomach, etc.).

I’ll give you that Cranium Command may be a bit dated, and a few of the celebrities won't be immediately known to the younger generation, but I'm betting it would still be entertaining.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It!

"Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It!" was my absolute favorite Disney abbreviation. It was also a very fun show. It left us a few years ago to make room for Toy Story Midway Mania and I guess that’s not a bad thing. But Millionaire (or WWTBAMPI) was a great show that featured a set that made us believe we were in the studio that housed the actual televised game. The play was near identical to the television show and prizes of a Disney variety (pin, hats and T-shirts) were offered.

However, the absolute best part was that each audience member could play along and your scores were tallied against the rest of the audience—and, if you did well enough, you could get into the hot seat! And did I mention that the grand prize was a Disney cruise?

Where would it go? Well, I just heard that American Idol was ending its run and unless they’re going to bring back Superstar Television… wait, that’s another article.

These are just a few of my ideas to bring back some of the attractions and restaurants I label as “sorely missed." I know I have others and I’m certain you do as well. Let’s hear ‘em and, as always, thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. By jon81uk

    I would love to see the Comedy Warehouse return, either at Boardwalk or a part of Disney Springs. I don't see much point in staying late at Disney Springs if you aren't watching a film or Cirque Du Soleil so I think bringing a comedy show back would be a great way to have something to do after dinner.

  2. By TheKaz

    Yeah, comedy warehouse was fun, but my first vote would be for the Adventurer's Club. As for the props, weren't some of them re-purposed in other parks? (I am thinking of Tokyo, perhaps?)

  3. By TheKaz

    Oh, yeah - almost forgot. I miss Food Rocks!

  4. By jms1969

    Comedy Warehouse/Who Wants to Be A Millionaire/Adventurer's Club all filled an important niche at WDW - they were shows that were different every time, and were much loved by repeat visitors. They also would be very easy (and fairly cheap, I would think!) to house in new locations, and I love the locations suggested. They could also come back today in their old form and be as enjoyable as ever for today's crowds (even though Millionaire is largely off the air, its classic game show format is something everyone can relate to), and there's no reason this shouldn't happen.

    Wonders of Life/Odyssey/Image Works all share a common trait - they were pulled out for no real reason, and never replaced (or in the case of Image Works, were replaced with something horribly dated in Captain EO). While a return of the old attractions (Cranium Command was always a personal favorite), each of which had a great theme and enhanced the park, would be great, there's no doubt that each would need to return in a very changed form to be popular today. I wouldn't have a problem with this at all - a high tech simulator would work great following Body Wars basic script, and an update of Cranium Command using an updated script and stars would have the potential to be very good. Odyssey could return as an updated restaurant, while Image Works could take advantage of today's tech to carry out it's theme. However, with the exception of Odyssey, I suspect that recreating these things would be very time and cost-intensive, and consider them unlikely - it's far more likely WDW would start from scratch and fill the locations with totally new attractions. I'd be fine with that - ANYTHING is better than the nothing that is there now.

  5. By Jimbo996

    A Comedy show would seem like a good idea for more adult entertainment at Downtown Disney. It would be the same situation for the Adventurer's Club. Obviously, Disney closed them for lack of business. Disney is not one for lacking of business acumen. Such show venues like them cannot survive alone, but perhaps as a combo facility.

    I recommend a facility that combines the Adventurer's Club style bar with lounge musical acts and improv, a ticketed stage venue with headliners and improv acts from the Adventurer's Club, and live musical acts on the stage with dancing.

    I went to the Adventurer's Club once and found the venue to be off-putting. I thought it was thoroughly mismanaged. The wait staff took too long to order drinks. The facility was over-crowded. The acts were spaced much too far apart to enjoy and you don't see it easily from any vantage point. Lastly, "Kungaloosh" is such a geeky slogan. Horrible. I know people love it, but it shouldn't cater to such a narrow demographic. It is almost a religious experience. If you don't get it, you never will and many don't, thus its closure.

    Imagination - Stop with this. There isn't enough Imagination in this facility. It is just sad. To say people need imagination when it is lacking in the ride and exhibits. It should be about something. Clearly, it is more an educational exhibit (gone wrong) with a bad ride.

    Odyssey Restaurant - I just use it for the bathroom facilities. Turning it back into a restaurant will cannibalize food spending at World Showcase. I don't see how they can support ALL these restaurants in Epcot without forcing the closure of others. Thus this restaurant will never return.

    Wonders of Life - The only reason to bring it back is the closed Body Wars ride. I recommend they bring back the building as "The Incredibles" ride. This will allow Disney to use super heroes without touching Marvel, which they are legally prevented.

    Who Wants to be a Millionaire Play It! - Maybe not. Oh well. If you really want it, it can always come back. Or maybe not.

    BTW: I heard the props from the Adventurer's Club are probably in storage, but many went to the new tiki bars at Disneyland Hotel and elsewhere (Trader Sam).

  6. By spectromen

    The only one I can't agree with you at ALL on is HISTA. That had to be the most boring, poorly written and badly paced 3D show I've ever seen. I'd watch Captain EO any day over that. At least it has music and dancing; staples of Disney.

  7. By Gunnels Family

    Please bring back animation to the animation studios in DHS. With the computer generated animation, nowadays, this should be a no brainer! Why can't we see a cartoon being developed? Also, bring back taping of shows i.e. Wheel of Fortune anyone? Could Disney take one of their Disney channels shows and be able to witness how a show is developed, made, so on...Could we have a radio studio for Radio Disney there? These seem like easy additions, without much rennovation. IMHO I personally feel that DHS has lost it's direction.

    The Comedy Warehouse was one of our favorite places we visited on our honeymoon back in 1991!! Improv is one of our favorites!! I wish we went to the adventurer's club. Wow, that would have been fun! Also, bring back Figment and the Dreamfinder....

  8. By jms1969

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo996 View Post
    A Comedy show would seem like a good idea for more adult entertainment at Downtown Disney. It would be the same situation for the Adventurer's Club. Obviously, Disney closed them for lack of business. Disney is not one for lacking of business acumen. Such show venues like them cannot survive alone, but perhaps as a combo facility.

    I recommend a facility that combines the Adventurer's Club style bar with lounge musical acts and improv, a ticketed stage venue with headliners and improv acts from the Adventurer's Club, and live musical acts on the stage with dancing.

    I went to the Adventurer's Club once and found the venue to be off-putting. I thought it was thoroughly mismanaged. The wait staff took too long to order drinks. The facility was over-crowded. The acts were spaced much too far apart to enjoy and you don't see it easily from any vantage point. Lastly, "Kungaloosh" is such a geeky slogan. Horrible. I know people love it, but it shouldn't cater to such a narrow demographic. It is almost a religious experience. If you don't get it, you never will and many don't, thus its closure...

    Jimbo, I understand where you are coming from, but I'd probably argue that the "lack of business" part you mention probably applied to Pleasure Island as a whole, rather than these two specific clubs. I seem to remember that the Comedy Club was full for just about every show, while the Adventurer's Club was usually full. They were definitely the two most crowded venues on Pleasure island. I think they could come back in their exact same form and be very popular (and, more importantly from Disney's perspective, profitable) today. The only question would be what their business model would be - at PI, they were part of a hard-ticketed site, which is (along with alcohol sales) how they survived until PI closed. I'd suspect they'd have to charge some sort of cover charge to be profitable as stand-alone entities, which I don't think would be an issue at all for a Comedy Club especially.

    The Adventurer's Club might be a little more questionable -I seem to recall a lot of people just peeking in for a few minutes, never really getting what was going on, and just moving on. It worked as part of a ticket for several clubs, but would the very vocal hardcore "regulars" of the club be enough to support it as a standalone destination with a separate cover charge to get in? Not quite sure...I suspect the answer is "yes", but I can somewhat understand Disney not having enough confidence to put money towards this idea

  9. By jms1969

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnels Family View Post
    Please bring back animation to the animation studios in DHS. With the computer generated animation, nowadays, this should be a no brainer! Why can't we see a cartoon being developed? Also, bring back taping of shows i.e. Wheel of Fortune anyone? Could Disney take one of their Disney channels shows and be able to witness how a show is developed, made, so on...Could we have a radio studio for Radio Disney there? These seem like easy additions, without much rennovation. IMHO I personally feel that DHS has lost it's direction....

    Couldn't agree more...MGM Studios when it first opened was an exciting place where you could see just about anything. You could see shows being taped, animated movies being made, and run into TV and Movie Personalities on the tour on a semi-regular basis as they were working on-site. DHS today has none of this excitement, and the "Streetmosphere" players, who used to fit right in, are still entertaining but actually serve as a rather depressing reminder of what used to be. The backlot tour is a boring mess of props used in other locations, mostly for movies made a long time ago, and the Great Movie Ride has suffered from 25 years with no significant update. DHS is a park with some of the best rides at WDW (especially ToT and Toy Story), but no heart. Sadly, I don't think even the long-rumored "Star Wars Land" or "Cars Land" are going to change that unless there is a conscious effort made to bring some "life" back to the theme of the park as a whole.

  10. By Jimbo996

    Quote Originally Posted by jms1969 View Post
    Jimbo, I understand where you are coming from, but I'd probably argue that the "lack of business" part you mention probably applied to Pleasure Island as a whole, rather than these two specific clubs. I seem to remember that the Comedy Club was full for just about every show, while the Adventurer's Club was usually full. They were definitely the two most crowded venues on Pleasure island. I think they could come back in their exact same form and be very popular (and, more importantly from Disney's perspective, profitable) today. The only question would be what their business model would be - at PI, they were part of a hard-ticketed site, which is (along with alcohol sales) how they survived until PI closed. I'd suspect they'd have to charge some sort of cover charge to be profitable as stand-alone entities, which I don't think would be an issue at all for a Comedy Club especially.

    The Adventurer's Club might be a little more questionable -I seem to recall a lot of people just peeking in for a few minutes, never really getting what was going on, and just moving on. It worked as part of a ticket for several clubs, but would there be enough people to support it as a standalone destination with a separate cover charge to get in? Not quite sure...

    I agree the Comedy Club will be more able to survive as a standalone business than the Adventurer's Club, but I argue that they can combine their operations to have a better result.

    Merely being full is not enough to run a business. In fact, the clubs at PI were actually too small to accomodate the crowds. They are leaving money at the table when the guests cannot enter to enjoy the entertainment. They cannot buy drinks. They have no place to sit.

    I do agree that there should be a cover charge, but this is only when entertainment is part of the package. Cover charges work best if it is a Dance Club, not a Comedy Club or the Adventurer's Club. The Comedy Club needs to be a hard ticket event, thus the bar does double duty to serve the guest in a separate venue. I think the Adventurer's Club should be part of an improv act as another hard ticket event. Then after the show, the guests can mingle with the actors at the bar area. They can take photos, get autographs, and perhaps get some improv skits. I just hate the "Adventurer's Club" as a standalone place. It is boring and too insider.

  11. By DwarfPlanet

    I would like to see the Adventurers Club brought back. Aren't they making a Trader Sam's in the Polynesian? The only other one I possibly would want to see is the Comedy Warehouse, but I at least have the Laugh Floor in MK for some fun.

  12. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by TheKaz View Post
    Oh, yeah - almost forgot. I miss Food Rocks!

    Really? Most folks go back to Kitchen Kabaret but I'm with you on Food Rocks.

  13. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by spectromen View Post
    The only one I can't agree with you at ALL on is HISTA. That had to be the most boring, poorly written and badly paced 3D show I've ever seen. I'd watch Captain EO any day over that. At least it has music and dancing; staples of Disney.

    And that's what makes the World go round. I'd probably say those things about Captain EO... but we can't agree on everything.

  14. By oregontraveler

    Loved the article. I suppose that the Yesterland Attractions at Disneyland that would be able to come back is probably a small list.

  15. By disnut8

    I totally agree with Cranium Command - that was a favorite of ours for years. But my suggestion is to create the same storyline but use animated characters so everyone can recognize them. I think Disney characters would be great to replace the human characters from the original.

  16. Discuss this article on MousePad.