Saturday, February 27, 2010
Pleasure Island vs CityWalk
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During the 70's & 80's, the place to party in Orlando was downtown and if you wanted to club-hop to multiple venues in one place, that place was Church Street Station. Disney saw so many people that were staying on-property flee during the evenings to CCS that they devised their own one-stop-club-hop locale: Pleasure Island. Opening in 1989, it put CCS out of business during the 90's. Ten years after PI, the transformation of Universal Studios into the Universal Orlando Resort included not only the addition of Islands of Adventure but also the party place known as CityWalk. For whatever reasons, Disney conceded nightlife to Universal with the closing of the PI nightclubs in 2008. Which is/was better? Well of course you're not going to get a blog dedicated to Pleasure Island to say that CityWalk is better. And it's not. But why?
Pleasure Island consisted of 7 clubs just as CityWalk does. PI had two of their seven dedicated to forms of comedy whereas CW has two of their seven dedicated to other niches, i.e. karaoke and dueling pianos. So that leaves 5 versus 5 music/dance clubs. Some of the comparisons are a wash. PI's Rock'n'roll Beach Club was dedicated to R&R but CW has Margaritaville dedicated to pretty much the same thing. PI had Motion dedicated to mostly Top 40 and CW is using The Groove for that. PI had BET Soundstage dedicated to Hip Hop and R&B where CW's Bob Marley's has a band playing mostly Reggae but the DJ plays Hip Hop/R&B between sets. So three of the five music clubs kind of cancel each other out. But it's those other two that put Pleasure Island over the top; the two that were the most highly-themed: 8TRAX and Mannequins.
The other two at CityWalk are Latin Quarter and Red Coconut Club and I like them both. I've learned a lot about Latin music at LQ and I particularly like when resident DJ Leony (of Sirius XM's BPM techno channel) plays some of his House-music sets. The eye candy in there can't be beat! RCC is cute but it's just a small version of The Groove playing the exact same music. It competes with Blue Martini, not with anything PI offered. The Groove did add 80's Night on Thursday nights and brought in former 8TRAX DJ Doc; that has been a win for them and they even added 70's music to the night last month. They offer 80's video games and some of the waitresses wear retro clothes. It's been slow this winter; things will pick up again as we move into the tourist seasons. I'd love to see The Groove add a Dance music night too; the futuristic-looking club was originally built as a techno club. Until then, we all mourn the loss 8TRAX and Mannequins. Will they rise again?