Combining New Year’s celebrations of Disney’s past and present – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

When I think of New Year’s Eve and Disney, my mind immediately goes to Pleasure Island. No, not the Pleasure Island from the Walt Disney animated feature, “Pinocchio;” rather, the Pleasure Island that was once part of the former Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World (now Disney Springs). I never experienced Pleasure Island much, other than walking through parts of it, but I look back now and wish I was able to experience more before its demise.

new year's

One of the things that intrigued me most about Pleasure Island was this idea of celebrating New Year’s Eve every night. From 1990 to New Year’s Eve 2005, every night at the stroke of midnight, the “new year” was celebrated with fireworks, confetti and music. After all, if you’re going to create a space where you want the best partying available, there’s no bigger night of partying to emulate than New Year’s Eve.

When I think of New Year’s Eve these days, I think of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” I don’t personally tune into this TV special, but even still, it’s one of the first things I think about. This annual television tradition began in 1972 and current day-host Ryan Seacrest first appeared on the special in 2006. It primarily takes place live from Times Square in New York City and airs on the Disney-owned network ABC. In addition to this annual special, Seacrest also hosts “American Idol” for ABC and is syndicated on many ABC affiliates with “Live with Kelly and Ryan” on weekday mornings. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the busy Seacrest has the ABC/Disney logo branded on his body.

Using both the New Year’s celebrating of yesteryear at Pleasure Island and the current celebrations on ABC, I think it would be a lot of fun to see Disney Springs become the centerpiece of New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World. Obviously, the partying will be subdued this year, but under normal circumstances, I would love to see the dining and shopping district decked out for the holiday. Bring in the Jumbotrons airing the ABC special along with the district’s own live musicians and a throwback to that Pleasure Island-feel. It would be especially cool if they brought in a camera crew and made the Disney Springs party part of the ABC special.

Of course, a proper New Year’s Eve just doesn’t feel complete without a fireworks spectacular. So, let’s see the pyrotechnics launching above the waters of Disney Springs to ring in the new year with a bang.

Between Disney Springs’ history of celebrating New Year’s every night, to ABC’s annual tradition of rockin’ the airwaves, I think that bringing these two pieces together could make for a new and spectacular way to celebrate the end of the holiday season and year at Walt Disney World. What do you think? If you could ring in the new year in your own way at Walt Disney World, what would you want to see done?

If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.

jeff depaoli

Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.


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