The Adventurers Club
was a themed nightclub in Pleasure Island
at the Walt Disney World Resort
. It was styled after a private club for world travelers and explorers and is set in 1937. The walls of the club are covered with artifacts and photographs from various explorations. The Adventurers Club features animatronics, puppets, and a cast of adventurers who perform in shows and improvise comedy while mingling with the club's patrons. Shows and conversation are often laced with innuendo, and the patrons might be welcomed as guests, given fictitious names and "recognized" as fellow adventurers, or simply referred to as "drunks".
The Adventurers Club opened with the rest of Pleasure Island on May 1
as part of the fictional legend about the island's previous owner, Merriweather Adam Pleasure, and backstory describing each of the buildings' former uses. Disney's Imagineers
led by Head Writer, Show Producer and Show Director, Roger Cox and Designer Joe Rohde
conceived and created the club.
The Adventurers Club's unlikely hero, Emil Bleehall is based on a long standing semi autobiograhical character Cox created. He is the funny little guy from Ohio who wins over the higher authorities and gains their respect and admiration with his seemingly awkward modest but ultimately unique crowd pleasing talents. Cox felt it paralleled his own story at Disney getting his Adventurers Club ideas off the ground and accepted there. A docudramatic version of Cox's journey at Disney by Sandra Tsing Loh, called, "It Happened in Glendale" from her Book, Depth Takes a Holiday was performed on the radio show, This American Life episode
"Something for Nothing."
Until December 31, 2005, every night in Pleasure Island was celebrated as New Year's Eve. One of the launch points for the nightly fireworks was the Adventurers Club's rooftop.
On June 27, 2008 Disney announced the Adventurers Club (along with all other clubs on Pleasure Island) would be closing permanently on September 27, 2008. An online petition to save the club was created at SaveTheAdventurersClub.info by members of the Disney fan community in hopes that Disney would consider moving the club or keeping it open as part of the new Pleasure Island format, and over 2,750 signatures were collected in the first 72 hours.
- Hathaway Browne - Aviator, and the club's resident innuendo-making ladies' man.
- Otis T. Wren - Club Treasurer and ichthyologist.
- Fletcher Hodges - Absent-minded Club Curator.
- Pamelia Perkins - Club President.
- Samantha Sterling - Explorer and cabaret singer.
- Emil Bleehall - Contender for the Balderdash Cup. Hails from Sandusky, Ohio. The character used to be portrayed as a plaid sport coat-wearing country bumpkin, but is now depicted as a "Junior Adventurer" in a costume that is a pastiche of a Boy Scout uniform. During the final performances, both characters appeared in the show (as Emil Sr. and Emil Jr.).
- Graves - Club Butler.
- The Maid - There are many maids who work in the Adventurers Club and participate in its activities. The only character that changes identity for which actor is playing her.
- Madame Zarkov - A mysterious gypsy who makes rare appearances at the Club. This character usually replaces that of Samantha Sterling for an evening. Both Samantha Sterling and Madame Zarkov appeared in the final performances at the club.
The adventurers can be portrayed by different actors on different nights, and most actors play more than one part. For example, it is not uncommon to see one night's Pamelia performing as the maid on the next night.
- Colonel Critchlow Suchbench - Club Gleemeister. The colonel is a cable-controlled puppet worked from behind the scenes. He is usually "on duty" (sitting dormant), but he wakes up to lead the new inductees in the club song, and occasionally to converse with guests in the Main Salon.
- Babylonia - A giant stone face on the wall in the Main Salon, the goddess of women and all things fertile, who sometimes speaks.
- The Yakoose - A mounted animal head that occasionally moves and speaks, either to guests or to Babylonia.
- Arnie and Claude - A pair of talking masks in the Mask Room.
- Beezle - A genie whose head appears in the Treasure Room.
- Fingers Zambezi - A haunted organ that provides the music for the Library shows.
- Emil Bleehall, Sr. - Emil Bleehall's father. Only appeared on the club's closing weeks.
- Sutter Bestwick - Another normally unseen character who is supposed to be a competitor for the 1937 Balderdash Cup. He, too, is unable to attend due to Otis' exploits. Sutter is also a past winner of the Balderdash Cup for 1930. His only appearance was on the clubs closing weekend.
- Chilton Thompson - Although mentioned in the Balderdash Cup and the Radio Broadcast, he is a never seen character that is supposed to be the sound effects man for the Radio Broadcast (but never shows up). He is also a past competitor for the Balderdash Cup, but, due to Otis Wren's doing, is unable to attend for 1937.
- Sheila Griffin - A never seen character, who is supposed to be playing the role of Gretta in New Years Eve episode of "Tales of the Adventurers Club," but, for some unknown reason, does not show up to the Radio Broadcast
- Marcel - A man in an ape suit. Appeared during the early days of the clubs existence, and in the Hoopla of the club's closing night, during which he invited the permanent members of the Adventurers Club to accompany him on a year-long safari.
- The Zebra Mezzanine - The top floor of the club. The club entrance leads into the mezzanine, which forms a circular balcony around the Main Salon. The walls feature many artifacts, and a framed parchment of the Club Creed. Primarily Graves' domain, the adventurers spend limited time here except for certain rituals (e.g. an exorcism or the Rhythm Ritual).
- The Main Salon - The central room of the club. The Main Salon houses the nightclub's bar, and also has a small stage from which the adventurers often speak or lead shows such as the New Member Induction Ceremony. The centerpiece of the Main Salon is a larger-than-life statue that some say is titled "Zeus Goes Fishing", but alternatively referred to as "God with a Rod". It is a replica of the famous Artemision Bronze. The walls of this room are filled with even more artifacts than on the Mezzanine, and many have placards giving their history and importance to the fictional former owner of the island, Merriweather Pleasure.
- The Mask Room - A small room off the Main Salon that features several shows throughout the night. The walls are covered with masks from around the world, many of which move and laugh. Two large Bacchanalian-inspired masks at the front of the room, Arnie and Claude, also talk and move their eyes.
- The Treasure Room - Another small room off the Main Salon, the Treasure Room contains additional artifacts gathered by the club, and also hosts several shows throughout the night which feature the genii-head-in-a-lantern special effect.
- The Library - This room is the largest in the club and hosts the larger (and mostly scripted) shows, many of which are musical in nature. This room also includes a second bar, and is the home of Fingers Zambezi.
The Adventurers Club offers many shows throughout the night. Several adventurers host small shows in the Mask Room and Treasure Room. The schedule is not fixed, but there are plaques next to each room to show the schedule for that particular evening. The shows mostly follow a script and order of songs and jokes although often guests will be invited to participate and the performers might make running jokes about some guests behavior, dress or place of origin. Shows offered in other rooms include:
- Welcome Party - Samantha Sterling and Fletcher Hodges throw a welcome party to get the open house off to a good start.
- Radio Broadcast - Otis and Pamelia lead a version of their weekly old-style radio broadcast, "Tales of the Adventurers Club," in which half of the cast is missing and must be replaced by audience members (can't do a half cast show). The broadcast is a serial radio show, akin to those of "The Shadow" or "Little Orphan Annie".
- The Balderdash Cup Competition (Library). The Adventurer of the Year wins the Balderdash Cup. The Balderdash Cup ceremony always ended with Emil Bleehall winning, as judged by crowd applause. However, on the club's final night, the crowd decided to applaud and cheer for Otis T. Wren, allowing him to win the cup for the first time.
- The RadioThon- The club uses its radio broadcasting ability to attempt to raise $2000 and save the club from losing its lease, finding some trouble along the way. A kind of variety show.
- The New Member Induction Ceremony (Main Salon). Every night in the Adventurers Club is the night of their membership drive. The ceremony is performed 3 times throughout the night, hosted by different characters each time.
- The Club Salute - This is where new adventurers learn the true meaning of the club's greeting, "Kungaloosh!", and the secret salute to accompany it.
- The Club Creed - A recitation of the Official Creed.
- The Club Song - The Colonel is awakened to teach the crowd the club's anthem, though he usually misunderstands which song is expected of him at first.
- Samantha's Cabaret (Library). Featurer Samantha Sterling performing musical numbers.
- The Maid's Sing-Along (Library). The audience is led in song by the Maid.
- The Rhythm Ritual - A show centered in the Main Salon that leads into the Hoopla. The Ritual usually features all the adventurers looking down from the balconies of the mezzanine as they take turns performing humorous solos on percussive instruments. The ritual usually builds to a crescendo as they come downstairs into the Main Salon, all playing their instruments together. Then the Colonel responds to the sound by coming off duty and shouting out rhythmic but often nonsensical phrases for the patrons to repeat, finalizing in the announcement of the Hoopla.
- The Hoopla - The Adventurers Club evening finale. At the end of the Rhythm Ritual, the Library doors open and the guests are seated. The Hoopla is hosted by Samantha Sterling, and always begins with a sing-along of "The Happy Wanderer". There are usually two or three other numbers performed by other adventurers, then the show is always concluded with Samantha leading everyone in "When the Saints Go Marching In", with each remaining adventurer creating a verse. The actors either invent a new verse on the spur of the moment or reuse one they've previously found to be effective.
Holidays at the Adventurers Club
While every day is the Open House and the performers have free rein to alter the script to fit the evening, the club does do some specialty shows for the Halloween and Christmas seasons in place of one or more of the Library events.
- Halloween Jubilee - Pamelia presents her Halloween Spooktacular! Otis discovers Halloween Carols, and the gang battles an evil spirit they accidentally conjure when Emil points out the club charter requires a seance in the Halloween show. The Characters all wear costumes for this show - Pamelia the witch, Cowboy Otis, Vampire Hathaway, and Space Explorer Emil. Other characters will occasionally wear Halloween costumes for the season as well, including Pharoah Fletcher Hodges, Leopard Samantha and Native American Graves.
- Holiday Broadcast - Pamelia tries to bring some Christmas spirit to the club, resulting in a seriously irritated Otis who abandons the show. Memorable moments include Hathaway singing "Home for the Holidays," the Maid performing "Santa Baby," Pamelia's song, "Pretty Little Dolly," and Emil and Pamelia telling the tale of "Dominick the Christmas Donkey." Otis returns to the show, making Pamelia's job easier because, after all, it is Christmas.
- Specialty Hooplas Themed Hooplas are not unusual in the least, with performers choosing to sing festive songs based on the Holiday seasons (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, or otherwise).
- It is tradition that whenever an adventurer uses the word Hoopla, the rest of the crowd must yell back "Hoopla!" louder
- The maid is the only character to have a unique identity when played by a different actress (by way of contrast, "Graves" is always known as such, no matter which actor is playing him). Past and present maids include "Anelle," "Yvette", "Sugar Snap", "Beullah Belle," "Ginger Vitus," "Sunny Knight," "Kiki McGee," "Gabby Normal", "Tish Myash," "Dusty Cabinets," "Ms. Tallulah" and many more.
- At various times, souvenir cups have been sold in the shape of a ceramic tiki glass, a canteen, a monkey head and a Yakoose head.
- The fastpass machines at the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom are designed to resemble travel trunks. Two of these have nametags on the top, one with Emil's address, and one with Pamelia's. (Recently the tags have gone missing, either from vandalism or a deliberate redesign of the machines.) In addition, several "artifacts" throughout the queue are labeled as belonging to a private collection from the Adventurers Club, including its physical address.
- When actors leave the cast, they are memorialized by custom-built artifacts placed on display; some of these are kept in a cabinet in the Treasure Room.
- Songs performed either past or present include several written by comedians Heywood Banks (such as "The Cat Got Dead") and Tom Lehrer ("The Masochism Tango"). Other songs come from a wide variety of sources: Broadway, children's songs, pop and jazz, comedy, and some originals written by the cast members themselves ("Drop Your Drawers," "Adventure Keeps Calling My Name").