A Night of Surprises
Last night, the doors closed at all six clubs on Disney’s Pleasure Island including the beloved Adventurer’s Club, where fans began standing in line as early as 9am. The night was full of drop-in guests, tears, and a rousing Hoopla (Hoopla!) finale that lasted almost 75 minutes.
One of the biggest surprises was the appearance of Sutter Bestwick, a character often referred to in the Club over the years but never seen. At least not before last night. Before the doors opened, he came out and mingled with the waiting crowd and even inducted new members.
In addition to Sutter, other highlights of the evening included a total of four maids performing throughout the Club (there are usually two), the Colonel’s seldom seen puppet friend Slappy stage diving, and the character of Otis T. Wren finally winning the Balderdash Cup. (This show almost always ends with Emil Bleehall winning, but the crowd votes and this time they chose to honor the actor they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Blondie.”)
It was the type of special send-off fans such as Jeremiah Good was hoping for. “We flew in last night from California and got in line at 9am today. I love the Club — it’s like a classic Disney attraction of yesteryear.”
Sci-fi and comics writer Peter David flew in from the other side of the country (New York) just to be part of the final night. “How could I not be here? This place is unique. Not just in its shows and interactions with the audience, but in the incredible devotion of its fans.” David was also one of the first people to use the cast to propose to his wife back in 2000. “My wife is a puppeteer and I’m a writer. So it seemed only fitting to write a script and let the Colonel (who is a puppet) read it. It was wonderful and the entire cast really got into it. Several still talk to me about it.”
Three UCF students showed up dressed as Pamelia Perkins, Hathaway Browne, and the Colonel. “It’s the final night,” said Pamelia look-alike Beth Phillips. “We had to do something big.” Nathan Kohlun said choosing to dress like Hathaway was easy. “Everyone loves this character, especially the women. It’s just all really fun.”
About an hour before the doors opened, many of the actors came out in their street clothes to loud cheers. They posed for photos, answered questions, received gifts, and thanked as many fans as they could for their support over the years.
Cassie Cameron, who wore a hand-made Hathaway shirt, brought a snapshot to give to the cast showing her at age 9 in the Mask Room. The now 24-year-old said she’s just sad she won’t get the chance to bring her own daughter to the Club. “She’s three and can already sing the Adventurer’s Song and even Toast! I had really hoped to share this with her some day.”
Shannon M. made sure she was one of the first in line. “I’ve been here since 8:45!” She was later joined by other family members including her son Christian, who wore his own Junior Adventurer outfit. He has recently become something of a celebrity due to the wildly popular video posted on You Tube of him performing on stage with Emil. “He fell in love with it the first time he was here this past summer and has been back about 6 times. He loves to fight with Otis, he has a crush on Sugar Snap, and Emil is his friend. The actors definitely made this club extremely family friendly.” Once inside, the characters welcomed Christian like he was one of their own, including him in a “Three generations of Bleehalls” photo with Emil and Emil Sr. “I just wish we could convince Disney to keep this precious gem of a club open,” sighs Shannon.
The End — and a Possible Follow-up
Throughout the evening, several of the characters came out to talk and entertain guests who couldn’t get into the building, due to being filled to capacity. In addition, a TV monitor was set up outside so the waiting line could watch the final shows. After a full, jam-packed night, the Club finally closed its doors to the public a little after 2:30am.
Already, several fans are starting to discuss ways to honor the club on the one-year anniversary of its closing. At the Adventurer’s Club Yahoo group, several have even mentioned the possibility of a “Con-Galoosh” meet-up on September 27, 2009 to “hoist a glass and sing together once more.” For them, the spirit of the Club will go marching along.
Read all about the Club, including interviews with two of its popular cast members, in Issue 6 of Orlando Attractions Magazine. (article pictured above)
Click play below for a video of Sutter Bestwick inducting new members:
Here are more photos from the line outside before the final night of the Adventurer’s Club.
Blog entry and photos by Orlando Attractions Magazine and freelance travel writer Deborah Brauser. Visit her online at www.orlandotravelwriter.com