The recent decision by Disneyland not to move forward with its fourth hotel has left something of a gaping wound in Downtown Disney, the pedestrian mall adjacent to the theme parks in California. All of the existing shops and restaurants that existed in the space where the hotel was going to be built have been shut down and with the exception of the popular Earl of Sandwich, which recently reopened, it seems unlikely they will return. While this has created a problem for Disney Parks, it’s also an opportunity.
Disneyland Resort now has a large open space and the company can do essentially whatever it wants inside that space. So what should be done? While Downtown Disney seems to have anything you could conceivably want in a pedestrian mall, from food and shops to an art gallery (of Disney-inspired art, of course) there are a few things it doesn’t have and now would be a great time to add them.
A Pleasure Island Style Nightclub
Disneyland is a place that’s fun for all ages and while that phrase traditionally means “fun for kids,” as somebody who has been an adult much longer than he was ever a kid, the parks are truly fun for grown-ups as well. Disney knows this and the company has done many different things over the years to cater to the adult Disney audience. One of these was Pleasure Island, a collection of nightclubs that were part of the Walt Disney World version of Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs.
While Pleasure Island no longer exists, it would be nice to have at least one location of its kind available someplace. Disney’s California Adventure hosted ElecTRONica followed by the Mad T Party for many years which provided both DJ dance music and even, in the latter case, a live band, combined with an outdoor bar to give more mature fans a place to party. It was truly an “all ages” dance party. Only at Disneyland can you find a 6-year-old and a 60-year-old both dancing to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” as sung by a woman dressed like a character from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It was just as bonkers as it sounds, but it was so much fun. With no indication that anything like it will be coming back to DCA soon, a Downtown Disney location would be perfect. Many of the performers that made up the Mad T Party Band now perform together regularly in Southern CA as Hiatus, so if Disney needs a house band for the new location, they should know who to call.
Club Disney was a short-lived attempt by the Mouse House to get in on the (then) growing trend toward adult-themed video arcades. Think Dave N’ Buster’s but with mouse ears. While Disney initially planned multiple locations, only a few ever opened and the idea died after only a couple years. However, the concept has promise and could be revitalized at Downtown Disney.
Whether Disney decides to revive the concept itself (probably calling it something else) or simply rent the space to an outside company doing the same thing, the idea has merit. It provides both another food option in the area as well as a way to keep everybody in a family entertained. If Disney puts its name on it, it can call it Flynn’s and style it after a retro 1980s arcade like something out of Tron, but that’s just my nostalgia talking.