Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This Weekend In Techno Town

An extravaganza of Breaks, Florida Breaks and Bass this Saturday night as the DJ Baby Anne "Bottom Heavy" CD Release Tour stops in her hometown Orlando. Performing in front of her at Firestone Live are DJ Sandy (HOB SIN), DJ Cliff T and ill DJ Chris B. Should draw a big crowd!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CityWalk Ticketing Options

Considering heading out to CityWalk to take advantage of the fun they're offering? Here are some of the ticketing options to consider. For a nominal upgrade over usual ticket costs, you can also see a movie or have dinner! (All prices shown include Florida sales tax.)


Most people purchase the All-Club Party Pass but for just $4.25 more you can also see a film at the AMC Universal Cineplex 20.  And since the ticket to the film is issued separately, you don't have to see the film the same evening. Come back when you want to! When was the last time you paid $4.25 for a first run film? The dinner option is even more attractive. For just $8.23 more than the clubs alone, you get a sit-down dinner from a select menu at many CityWalk restaurants and the price not only includes the clubs and dinner but also the tax on dinner and the gratuity on dinner! Incredible value! A reminder that parking at Universal CityWalk drops to $3.00 at 6pm and becomes free at 10pm.

Monday, March 28, 2011

PI Update: Comparing Concept Art To Reality

Last fall Disney released 5 pieces of concept art giving a vision to the plans to convert Pleasure Island over to Hyperion Wharf at Downtown Disney. The piece above was an elevated view looking onto the Island from vantage point high above the #1 Bridge from Marketplace. By comparing the concept art to reality, we can try to get an idea of what the plans actually are.
Their very first construction project was last year's demolition of the old triple No. 1 Bridge with a new wider bridge. The purpose is to draw pedestrians shopping in Marketplace by making the walk more open and inviting. Both side spans of the new bridge feature metal panels which presumably helps water drain but perhaps serves other functions as well. You can see in the background to the far right how the width of the bridge suddenly ends by that sign plus planters that are already there.
Continuing onto Pleasure Island, the area between those existing planters and Fulton's Crab House  features an existing wood over concrete look. Looking at the concept art, we see the planters removed and a wider wood over concrete decking-look installed, home to about a dozen umbrella tables and chairs. Is this outdoor seating for Fulton's, for Portobello or for something else? Don't know yet.
This is the recently reconstructed Lily Pad area. The blueprints revealed here on the Blog last weeks shows some sort of compass design imprinted onto the concrete here. The concept art does not seem to show the compass but it does show numerous trees installed around the circle. The concept art also shows what appear to be two kiosks/permanent stands constructed along the PI Lagoon side of the Lily Pad, something the blueprints did not show. Since the blueprints were filed with the State last month, have to assume they are the most up-to-date representation of what's coming to Pleasure Island.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Club Reports: Heat, Mojo, I-Bar, One80

Downtown Orlando was buzzing last night with a Peter Murphy concert at Firestone Live and an Orlando Predators game at the Amway Arena. Clubs were empty early-on but filled as those events ended and people spread out.
There was time for a return visit to new club Heat, located in the new 55 West apartment complex on Church Street.
The club was hardly empty for my first visit last month and last night it was even more crowded! The place has definitely gained a following.
They did finally move the DJ up onto the stage behind the main bar where he is visible. Initially he was hidden in a corner behind a side bar. It was Top 40 and Hip Hop all the way.
DJ Ryan Lane 's new location makes it impossible to interact. In lieu of that, they have a MC walking around the club with a microphone chatting up the crowd and making announcements. It's a bit awkward but the floor was jammed with dancers. Keep in mind that this is a fancy restaurant earlier in the evening and Wednesday night is Latin Night including House sets from DJ Leony (Latin Quarter, Sirius/XM BPM, Radio Danz).

First visit to Mojo Bar & Grill and really it is more of a bar and grill than a club. The New Orleans style venue fills another void in Church Street Station and the Bourbon Street atmosphere spills out onto the closed-off street outside!
There is a live band outside and recorded music afterwards.
Flavored oxygen is available if you're running low!
The bar area inside stays packed. There is no DJ so this will not go in the books as a new dance club option!  It's a great new downtown addition nonetheless.
Independent Bar was greatly impacted by the Peter Murphy concert since their Saturday night target audiences are generally the same. But it quickly got crowded when the concert ended.
DJ Indie John has moved their entire music collection onto the new hard drive which makes it easy to locate requests and move them in line for playing.
Very crowded on the dance floor with a lot of apparent newcomers since I didn't recognize many of them!
Always a fascinating place for people-watching!
Talk about an Aaahz Reunion! DJ's Kimball Collins (Peacock Room) & Dave Canalte (Mannequins) were spotted in the booth visiting for awhile. Yes, there is another Aaahz Reunion planned for Thanksgiving Eve at The Beacham (formerly Tabu) and Mannequins fans really need to mark that on their calendars. You can click on the sidebar for November, 2010 and November, 2009 for photo coverage!

Unlike Disney and Universal clubs, downtown clubs stay open until close to 3am.
After the Arena League game ended, also dropped by Amway Center to revisit new club One80....or officially 180 Grey Goose Lounge. Lots of pedestrians headed over that way and the best way to get to it is to cross under I-4 at Church Street. It is very well lit.
The ambiance is awesome with both indoor and outdoor bars overlooking the Orlando skyline. It will be interesting to see how they handle the weather come July though.
DJ John Campisano (Lattitudes, Red Coconut Club) was pumping out Top 40, House and Dance from his outdoor booth. Everyone needs to check this place out which currently is only open on Friday and Saturday nights and also on any Orlando Magic game nights, after the game ends.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Disco Yeti Is Just A Mannequin

One of the other major criticisms out at Walt Disney World is the continuing inoperable status of the Yeti who appears within the Expedition: Everest ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom. He's allegedly been broken for years now and they never fix him. This song, sung from the perspective of the poor Yeti, compares his plight as a mannequin to Pleasure Island!

DJ David Guetta Medley

One of those YouTube sensations is Keenan Cahill aka BeenerKeeKee who likes to do his versions of popular songs. Here he joins DJ David Guetta (F) for a medley of Guetta's top hits from the past two years. Guetta has produced Techno hits for many years but it was his melding of Electronic Dance beats with Hip Hop and in particular Hip Hop and Rap vocalists that catapulted him into a Top 5 DJ ranking two years ago. Guetta is rumored to be one of the DJ's at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Orlando on Memorial Day weekend. If true, it would be his first ever performance in O-Town!  Enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Club Reports: Live Bands At CityWalk

 Thursday night in the city...CityWalk that is. With so many DJ's out of town this weekend for Ultra, thought I'd check out the bands instead. CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
 At Margaritaville the house band is Blue Stone Circle. The vibe is a cross between a visit to Rock'n'Roll Beach Club and 8TRAX since the band and DJ play a mix of Rock and Oldies.

 Couldn't get many on the dance floor during my visit last night but the club was full as was the bar area. One thing I never cared for was the fact they leave the restaurant tables in place late at night. So nearly everyone is sitting at tables, it's hard to get them up and more important, there is that lack of mingling you get in most venues.
 Thursday night is 80's Night at The Groove. While not crazy packed like the previous Thursday night which was St. Patrick's Day, the place was jammed nonetheless.
 The band Switch aka Nerd Ranger was playing on the stage last night playing their wacky brand of 80's hits.
 The band used to be brought in one Thursday night each month but that has been scaled-back to quarterly.
 I checked on that rumor that supposedly two CityWalk night clubs were going to be closed at the end of this summer. I'm told that is not the true. We may seem some renovations later this year at The Groove and elsewhere but no closures. All the clubs are profitable and I'm told there are two areas not currently used that they could covert to clubs if they really wanted to, without closing anything.
 Bob Marley's - A Tribute To Freedom had a small crowd last night listening to their weekday house band Mystik NRG.
They have a weekend band by the name of Chain Reaction. Both play Reggae and Funk.
 I always thought that if one venue was vulnerable to closure, it was this one. It's outdoors and thus subject to rain and it swelters during the summer. Supposedly they make so much revenue from cover charges that it's a cash cow!
The Red Coconut Club is a favorite of mine and since TG features 80's music on Thursdays, RCC is the place for Top 40 and Hip Hop. Last night DJ G-Clef (BET Soundstage, Celebrate Tonight) was back at the helm between band sets and afterward.
 The house band Herb Williams Band plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and does an excellent job recreating the sound of popular songs to dance to. The new female vocalist (not pictured) brings some eye candy for us guys!
 The club was crowded last night with lots of spring breakers in town!
 Let's not forget Rising Star, the surprising venue that continues to draw crowds to their Karaoke format.
 For those brave enough to go on stage to perform, backup singers/dancers join you as does a live band on the weekend.
It's far surpassed expectations and draws better than predecessor CityJazz ever did.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Weekend In Techno Town

Zip...nada...nothing. Everyone is down in Miami this weekend for Ultra Music Festival so not a lot going on around Orlando this weekend. But we had a busy week at the Save Pleasure Island Blog this week according to the Flag Counter. This past Tuesday 3,651 visitors came to check out the Pleasure Island blueprints and 2,684 of them were new visitors. Of the newbies, 417 were from outside the United States. Why would thousands of people from all over the world give a rat's ass about what's going down on Pleasure Island? Because that's how good it was.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PI Update: Grass Replaces Clubs

With beautiful dry weather continuing in Orlando into next week and temps heading into the mid and then upper 80's, what better place to spend a Spring Break afternoon and evening than beautiful Pleasure Island! (Before you ask, the sign said Marketplace but had begun changing when this pic was snapped. There is no Marketplark.)
One more piece of blueprint to share with you. This one shows an overview of the entire Island however it only demonstrates the changes coming to the East End. You can clearly see the position of the new Amphitheater, the new pathway through the current service court and the compass design of the Lily Pad. This rendering shows 3 retail establishments in that service court. I love that it still shows the revolving dance floor inside Mannequins!
Meanwhile down on the ground, grass turf has already been installed or is growing where Rock'n'Roll Beach Club and Motion used to stand. Although the plans indicated "seed" would be planted here, we don't normally do grass seeds in Florida. Maybe this is a special Disney variety.
This does beg the question, if there are immediate plans to construct an Amphitheater near "the hub" intersection, why would they install turf in that area? The Mouse works in mysterious ways!
Interesting information from a PI source earlier today. Source says that contracts with new restaurants and shops have been signed but Disney is just not ready to release the names yet. The Blog did report a few months ago that indeed a contract had been signed with Schussler Creative to build a Mahogany Bay Classic Old Boats and Great Food Restaurant, and our source on that one was the Minneapolis Star-Tribune! Source also says that the three areas of Downtown Disney each will have their own focus although each area will also continue to offer alternatives. For example, the Downtown Disney Marketplace focus will be shopping, Downtown Disney West Side focus will be entertainment and Hyperion Wharf at Downtown Disney focus will be dining. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here Is What's Coming To The New Pleasure Island (Part 2)

These are snapshots of some of the blueprints filed by Disney with the South Florida Water Management District detailing the changes being made to Pleasure Island in the conversion to Hyperion Wharf. Last night we looked at the East End Package and tonight we look at the West End Package. If you were disappointed with what you saw in yesterday's article, please be warned that things are even bleaker today!

As you probably know, the West End side of Pleasure Island is actually two levels. Guests actually traverse the area or enter the clubs on the upper lever and go downstairs for some of the entertainment options. Think Adventurers Club, Comedy Warehouse, BET Soundstage and 8TRAX. As you can see on the page above, there is no doubt that BET and AC are "to be demolished". This is not a surprise since the Blog published the construction permits last fall and that was contained within. Interestingly, the blueprints only mention that the lower levels of these two clubs are to be demolished and never mention the upper levels. We thus have to assume that if the lower level is being demolished, the upper level has to go with it!

Since we know Disney plans bold new options for the Island, what will be replacing these former clubs? More seed & mulch. Nothing is replacing them, not even a Hot Dog Hall of Fame!

Wondering about Comedy Warehouse? It is described as "Future Entertainment Parcel 2" on the plans and is not part of this project. So it will apparently sit idle. And what about Mannequins and 8TRAX? They are not mentioned in the blueprints and the Blog already reported long ago that the power grid to the entire Island is located there so the buildings can't be demolished, only rehabilitated. So that folks represents the new Hyperion Wharf.
One final comment. Those that have worked on Pleasure Island will recognize the underground offices that are below West End Plaza/Celebration Plaza. For those of us who do not, it's fascinating to see how large the complex is. Had no idea it was this extensive!