Disney shelves Hyperion Wharf, Bowls a Strike on the Westside of Downtown Disney

While the construction walls are still up in the area formerly known as Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island, the concept art for new construction has been removed and work has stopped on the area that was once destined to become Hyperion Wharf. For now that concept is on hold, if not on hiatus (the Disney word for dead a la Light Magic).

I wouldn’t take this as a good sign that a couple night clubs could be returning to Pleasure Island, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. It would not take too much to bring a DJ or two in to Mannequins. Some new decor would be needed, but that’s about it.

I would be surprised if a World of Color type show was announced. Just handling the water craft issues would be a nightmare. Plus, if you’ve been to Downtown Disney recently you’ll know that they don’t have any problem drawing tourists. A few tweaks here and there would help handle the crowds and a show that uses technology like World of Color really needs to be attached to a gated parks. The reason Disney closed Pleasure Island was because they didn’t want to spend money to draw people out of the parks at the end of the night. That is just as true for WoC.

(aside: the choice for a World of Color show is either Magic Kingdom (but finding a good location there is a problem, plus the park has frequent special events) or Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which has a great location, but doesn’t currently have the evening capacity to handle the large crowds a World of Color type show would attract. So either way Disney is looking at spending a lot of money to bring World of Color to those parks. I’m not holding my breath. (DHS and EPCOT already have their own evening shows.))

We know that one chain known for its nightlife will be coming to Downtown Disney’s Westside. Moving into the old Virgin Record Megastore space will be a 50,000 square foot dance, dine, drink, & bowling complex known as Splitsville.

I’m not sure how Disney is going to handle Splitsville’s 21 and older after 10pm policy and night club casual dress code, but I am a general fan of this idea for Downtown Disney. The upscale bowling center has been able to succeed in entertainment centers around the nation, even when businesses around it close down. It’s a perfect fit in the current Ridemakerz space and a toy store belongs in the Marketplace anyway.

I’m not too concerned about Disney putting the pause on Hyperion Wharf as long as we’re getting Splitsville. The area formerly known as Pleasure Island area clearly needs a new master plan so it becomes more than just a way to walk from one section of Downtown Disney to another. A ‘garden district’ with shops and dining is just not exciting enough to bring in the vendors that would be needed to occupy the buildings. Instead we’re getting Apricot Lane Boutique going into the Harley Davidson spot that should have been schedule to be renovated as part of Hyperion Wharf’s new look.

Disney’s planned renovation for Pleasure Island depended on attracting commercial retailers and restauranteurs at a time when most were contracting their businesses to deal with the recession. The economy is going to have to get quite a bit stronger before enough 3rd party vendors can be lined up to fill Pleasure Island again.

That’s why Splitsville is a good sign for Downtown Disney. It focuses night life on the Westside (which btw, has a large expansion pad beyond La Nouba should the demand for more fun and games mixed with food and dancing grow), it adds an element of night time entertainment missing from Disney World in general (bowling, billiards, dancing), and it’s still a limited enough idea that it will entertain tourists who haven’t yet encountered this type of establishment.

Have you ever been to a Splitsville before? What’s your take?

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13 thoughts on “Disney shelves Hyperion Wharf, Bowls a Strike on the Westside of Downtown Disney


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