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Old 04-17-2019, 07:57 AM
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Pleasure Island


On my way in to and back from work I pass Pleasure Island Road. If you drive along route 95/128 north of Boston, you pas an exit for Pleasure Island Road, the same street. It's a weird name, because the location is away from the ocean or an large river, an d there are no islands anywhere nearby. The immediate association in my mind is with Disney's Pleasure Island, the place in the 1940 Disney film where Lampwick and the other boys (and very nearly Pinocchio himself) are brought for a night of dissipation and get turned into donkeys. Or to the later location in Downtown Disney in Orlando , outside the park proper, that had nightclubs and stores and The Adbenturers Club (and, in 1991-2, Jessica's, which included sexy gifts.) Pleasure Island, at least under that name, effectively closed in 2008 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasu...t_Disney_World) )

But Pleasure Island Road had nothing to do with Disney, at least not directly. Pleasure Island was one of a series of Disneyland-like amusement parks built by Cornelius Vanderbilt Wood *in 1959. It stayed open longer than his other parks, closing ten years later in 1959.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasu...amusement_park)

http://www.friendsofpleasureisland.org/

Pleasure Island featured, among a great many other things, a "Wreck of the Hesperus" boat ride that took you past "Moby Dick" rising from the water.

Wood built his parks in imitation of Disneyland, and to compete with it. In fact, C.V. wood built Disneyland itself, although that details has been eliminated from Disney histories ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._V._Wood )

They probably got the name "Pleasure Island" from Disney's Pinocchio, but where did Disney get it from? Carlo Colldi's children's novel Pinocchio calls the place Paese dei balocchi -- "Land of Toys" (or "Village of Toys" or "Country of Toys"). Disney, in adapting the book, probably wanted to avoid calling it "Toyland" because of associations with either Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland or Hal Roach's loosely adapted 1934 film version starring Laurel and Hardy**. as far as I know, the 1940 film was the first to call the island "Pleasure Island", although some re-used the name in later productions.

And where did Disney get it? Although there are earlier uses of the phrase "Pleasure Island" in other contexts, it seems to have become more common after Robert Louis Stevenson released his novel Treasure Island. It shows up in stories. Whitman chocolates put out a "Pleasure Island" collection of chocolates in a box shaped like a pirate's treasure chest in the 1920s.

So we owe "Pleasure Island", in many places, to Disney. His company didn't invent the name, but they certainly did more than anyone to publicize it. If you google "Pleasure Island, you get Disney or the Massachusetts Park, or a resort island off North Carolina or a place at Port Arthur, Texas. Those last two have nothing to do with Disney.







*Among Wood's other parks were Magic Mountain in Colorado and Freedomland in the Bronx in New York City -- a park actually bigger than Disneyland. All closed within a couple of years. Only Lake Havasu, which wasn't really an amusement park, stayed open longer, and is still open, in fact

**Disney helped out his friend Hal Roach by letting him use a monkey dressed as Mickey Mouse without penalty, and letting him use the musical motif of the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" from his Three Little Pigs cartoon. Interestingly, Disney himself would produce an even more loosely adapted version in 1961.

Disney also gave Jiminy Cricket his name. In Collodi's book, it's just "Cricket". "Jiminy Cricket", or just "Jiminy" was a mild child's oath (which Disney used in his films, including Peter Pan) with its own fascinating history, but would be too much of a distraction to go into here.
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:59 PM
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Wow. Bumping so the topic won't sink with zero responses.
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:09 PM
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I'll add another to keep it afloat.

Maybe the subject of this thread is too limited. I don't know if there'd be much interest to those of us who didn't live in the Boston area during the 1960s.

Anyway, I'll try to expand its scope. Has anybody noticed the part in Pinocchio where the title character goes to Pleasure Island (or "Land of Toys" in the book) is a homage to the episode in The Odyssey where Ulysses (a.k.a. Odysseus) and his crew visit the isle of Aeaea where the sorceress Circe changes the crew into pigs because of their disgusting eating habits? Both the island in Pinocchio and in the Odyssey are described as being off the west coast of Italy.
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by NDP View Post
I'll add another to keep it afloat.

Maybe the subject of this thread is too limited. I don't know if there'd be much interest to those of us who didn't live in the Boston area during the 1960s.

Anyway, I'll try to expand its scope. Has anybody noticed the part in Pinocchio where the title character goes to Pleasure Island (or "Land of Toys" in the book) is a homage to the episode in The Odyssey where Ulysses (a.k.a. Odysseus) and his crew visit the isle of Aeaea where the sorceress Circe changes the crew into pigs because of their disgusting eating habits? Both the island in Pinocchio and in the Odyssey are described as being off the west coast of Italy.
I honestly can't say that I did.

I thought of it as an object lesson to kids -- "Go to Pleasure Island where everything is free!" says the Coachman. But the lesson is that it's not free, and you have to "pay" for it doing "donkey work" (I wonder if the Italians had the same expression for mindless physical labor?), by being actual donkeys.

There are a lot of "lessons for kids" like that in Collodi's book, but they didn't make it into the Disney film, or many other adaptations, for that matter.

But I never made the connections between the Coachman and Circe.
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Old 04-18-2019, 05:51 PM
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Well, I did go there with my family many times. Among the attractions was a house with tilted floors, a donkey trail where you could pan for gold in a fake stream, a go-kart track, and a slide. There were frequent celebrity guests - the Three Stooges and Rex Trailer did meet and greets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Pleasure Island featured, among a great many other things, a "Wreck of the Hesperus" boat ride that took you past "Moby Dick" rising from the water.
Not quite. The Wreck of the Hesperus was a ride where you rode in the dark through underwater scenes lit by ultraviolet light. There was also a western themed ride, the Old Chisholm Trail. The boat ride which you're thinking of did feature a Moby-Dick replica that would surface and spout.

All and all, it was a so-so experience; when it closed I didn't miss it much. I was more of a roller coaster kind of kid - Nantasket Beach and such. But I did stop by the remains of Pleasure Island a few times in the 70s, though there was little to see aside from the go-kart track with weeds growing out of it. I gather there's next to nothing left today.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:30 PM
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“Well, you’ve won. You can have Spain, or Pleasure Island.”

“Pleasure Island!!!”

“Wait....there’s nothing here! Pleasure Island SUCKS!!!”

http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=252
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