Right in the middle of Disney Springs you can find a beautiful area that's currently in a state of flux - Pleasure Island. Currently, it's home to some fine dining, lively entertainment, and boutique shopping, but all of that is set to change in the coming years so plan to visit soon before it falls off the map for good.
This area used to be known as THE after-hours nightlife spot of Walt Disney World complete with bars, dance clubs, and more, but in recent years the focus has shifted to a high-end retail and dining district, and plans are in the works to revamp the entire area to focus on families, with a makeover that's set to be complete by 2016.
Jessica Rabbit looking good - Photo by Brian Zalewski
Pleasure Island opened in May 1989 as an “island” of nightclubs – adults could pay admission to get through the gate and then club-hop around the island visiting multiple establishments for one price. Some of the themed clubs included 8TRAX, Adventurer's Club, bet Soundstage, Comedy Warehouse, Mannequins Dance Palace, and Wildhorse Saloon. And each night New Years Eve was celebrated at midnight.
In September 2008, this area “closed” it's nightclubs and began opening a series of shopping and dining locations in it's place, although the area is still largely empty and feels a bit like a ghost town. A few years ago, Pleasure Island was slated for redevelopment into a family friendly complex called Hyperion Wharf, but those plans have since been scratched.
In Disney's most recent announcement about the redevelopment of Disney Springs, the area occupying Pleasure Island is set to become two distinct areas: Town Square and Landing. Combined with the Marketplace and Westside areas, Disney Springs will be renamed Disney Springs, and will become a family-centric shopping, dining and entertainment district themed to turn of the century Florida.
Disney Springs is the subject of much speculation since the folks at Disney haven't given away too many details. But plans include doubling the number of shopping, dining, and entertainment options from around 75 to 150, and bringing in a number of new Disney-run establishments and third party vendors (such as Starbucks, which was previously confirmed to be coming to Disney Springs).
About Pleasure Island
Today, Pleasure Island is home to table service and counter service dining locations, as well as a few specialty retail outlets. Theming is a little on the light side since most of the spaces previously occupied by nightclubs are still boarded up and abandoned, but foliage and lighting lend to the feeling of a relaxed atmosphere.
Shopping focuses on specialty boutiques like Curl by Sammy Duvall, Apricot Lane Boutique, and Sosa Family Cigar Co.
For a quick service meal or snack visit Adventurer's Hut and Cooke's of Dublin. If you're looking for a table service location, try Fulton's Crab House, Paradiso 37, Planet Hollywood, Portobello, and Raglan Road.
Getting to Disney Springs is pretty easy. You can drive and park for free, or take a Luxury Motor Coach from any of the Walt Disney World Resorts (expert Port Orleans Resort, Old Key West Resort, and Saratoga Springs Resort - you can take a boat from those resort hotels). Buses and boast each have a drop off point on the Westside (near the entrance to Pleasure Island) and at the Marketplace.
Dad's Bottom Line
Pleasure Island isn't the highlight of Disney Springs that it used to be, but if you want to see it in it's current state, visit soon! Better yet, visit in 2016 when the whole are is redeveloped into something that Disney promises will be as magical as the rest of Walt Disney World.