When Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World closed in 2008, most Disney fans mourned the loss of the Adventurer’s Club, one of the most unique night clubs on the planet. However, for me, I was deeply saddened to lost the Comedy Warehouse.
It was my first introduction to live improv comedy and from the time I saw my first show, I was hooked. Sure, the Adventurer’s Club was a genius set up for a night club where guests could interact with a unique cast of characters from all over the world. However, the Comedy Warehouse had this pool of talent that to this day is unmatched in any other place at Walt Disney World or any theme park, period.
Luckily, three years ago, management at Disney’s Hollywood Studios recognized the need to add a seasonal offering to help offset capacity in a park that desperately needs it during the busiest weeks of the year. In addition, many of the former cast of the Comedy Warehouse are currently working at the Studios at either the American Idol Experience or as a streetmosphere performer.
So in 2011, the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special was born and ran for a little over a week during the busiest time of the holiday week. If there was a downside, the show ran in the former Sounds Dangerous theater which has an extremely small seating capacity. Nearly every show that season was filled to capacity and that included the standing room only section that lined the back wall of the theater.
In 2012 and again this year, the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special has moved to the Premier Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has nearly triple the capacity of the Sounds Dangerous theater in the front of the park. However, many guests don’t even realize the show is there because the building is in the back of the park and normally only used for special events. The tip board near Sunset Boulevard doesn’t even list show times and while you can find it on the times guide, the map makes no mention of it.
The good news is, the show is listed as an option for FastPass Plus throughout the holiday season, which helps give the show a small boost in attendance. For me, seeing the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special is like opening up a time capsule. All the same improv games from Pleasure Island are there like “Shmeopardy”, “Shoulda Said” and nearly every other game. It really is like being back at Pleasure Island again!
There are a few minor differences, however. At the top of the show during the introduction, they explain that this show “fits perfectly” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios because improv comedy is all about a collaboration between the audience and the actors in the same way a movie is a partnership with actors and directors. In this show, the audience gets to be the directors. As David Letterman often says, “If you buy the premise, you buy the bit.”
The show is also a touch more family friendly than the old Pleasure Island version mostly because the show is packed with kids of all ages. Not to say the night club version was ever “blue”, but they could definitely get away with a little more with a 98% adult audience. On the flip side, kids who have probably never been exposed to live improv comedy before will get a chance to see it for the first time. That to me is worth it’s weight in gold.
So if you get a chance to swing by Disney’s Hollywood Studios between now and January 5th 2014, take the opportunity to see some of the best improv actors you can find anywhere. It’s really an amazing show and worth seeing more than one as improv is always different based on audience feedback.