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

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  2. Leigh says:

    I went to the Splitsville in Tampa a couple of times. It was a fun place – has a pretty devoted following. The bowling, food and drink were overpriced there, but judging by the $150 remote control cars flying off the shelves at Ridemakerz, I suppose it doesn’t matter in the Downtown Disney environment. They did have good happy hour prices on food and drink, and they ran bowling specials that made it more reasonable. Wonder if we’ll see those at Downtown Disney?

    As for the 21 and up thing late nights – the last time I had dinner at Bongo’s, it was transforming into an adults-only dance club with a cover charge as we were leaving at about 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, so I suppose there’s some DTD precedent for it.

  3. Disney fan says:

    Wow – this is interesting. I thought part of the reason for closing Pleasure
    island was the criminal element… Disney was having more and more issues with security. Although I like the idea of this kind of place, I wonder what
    impact it will have on security. However, totally hated the name Hyperion Wharf. I bet if they did any market research I’m sure they found out that the name
    Is horrendous.

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  5. Amphigorey says:

    World of Color won’t come to Animal Kingdom for the same reason there are no fireworks at the park: the animals.

    • John Frost says:

      Where I’m thinking of setting World of Color it would be no louder than the parade music. Basically the farthest away from any animals possible

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