When the Adventurer’s Club opened as part of Pleasure Island in 1989, it was arguably the most unique piece of themed entertainment created by Walt Disney Imagineering. Instead of a dance or comedy club, this was a different animal entirely.
As guests entered the club, it was like stepping through a time machine to the 1920’s. Artifacts collected from all over the world included tribal masks, statues and taxidermy heads adorned the walls. These unique relics were collected by explorers who traveled the globe looking for adventure and would gather at the Adventurer’s Club to have a drink or two and swap stories with other travelers about their latest life changing journey.
After nearly 20 years, Pleasure Island and the Adventurer’s Club closed in September 2008 despite having an extremely loyal fan base. Personally, it was my favorite place to hang out at Walt Disney World and its closure marked a huge loss for themed entertainment.
Coincidentally, a year later in 2009, a true Adventurer’s Club opened in Pittsburgh known simply as Trundle Manor. This gem of an attraction is described by the owner, “Mr. Arm,” as a true tourist trap and an integral part of roadside America.
Most fascinating about Trundle Manor is that this is an actual residence! Mr. Arm and his fiancé, Velda Von Minx, actually live on the second floor of this house, which was built in 1910.
The first floor houses the majority of their collection and is available for the public to tour their unique collection of oddities.
Mr. Arm started collecting bizarre trinkets as a child going to flea markets with his family. He had a strange obsession with things like bones, unique medical instruments and taxidermy animals. Some of these items he still has in his collection and are on display at Trundle Manor.
His fascination with taxidermy runs deep through to his childhood and had a small collection. So much so that he taught himself how to do his own stuffing and mounting of animals on of all things, a first date.
When Mr. Arm first laid eyes on Velda, he knew he had to do something unique to impress her. As luck would have it, he had two dead squirrels in his freezer that he wanted to have stuffed and mounted and asked her if she’d like to join him in the project.
Swooned and charmed, Velda agreed to the date and even made a special apron for the occasion she brought over to the house. Mr. Arm became smitten with Velda, she had the same eclectic taste in strange artifacts and most importantly, the thought of stuffing and mounting dead animals didn’t make her squeamish. A match made in heaven.
Mr. Arm was quick to point out that none of the taxidermy animals in Trundle Manor were killed for the sake of sport, these animals all died of natural causes.
However, the collection at Trundle Manor goes far beyond taxidermy. He also has a fascination with medical equipment and has several medical and dental chairs that are over 50 years old. He also mentioned he has something called a “urethra spreader”, which literally makes me cringe just thinking about it.
How much would you pay to spend an hour or so at Trundle Manor? Good news, there is no admission fee… per say. Trundle Manor operates on a donation-only payment system. While they certainly accept cash, there are certainly other forms of payment accepted from a bottle of booze to an addition to their collection.
That’s right. Many of the items in the house have been donated from visitors over the years. Have a weird item in your house that you think would fit right in at Trundle? Contact Mr. Arm in advance to see if he’d be interested in putting your oddity on display in his house.
A few years ago, a belly dancer who lives in Pittsburgh had to have a tumor removed. She kept it in a jar and had it donated to Trundle Manor and it proudly sits on a shelf in the downstairs parlor. Seriously, I could not make this stuff up if I tried.
Another thing to keep in mind is visits to the Manor are by appointment only. Considering this is a donations-only business, both Velda and Mr. Arm have day jobs and most tours are given in the evening or on weekends. Tours often last about an hour and they can accommodate small groups or if you are looking for a unique date night, I can’t think of a more romantic location in all of Pittsburgh.
Want to learn more about Trundle Manor or possibly even schedule a visit? Hop on over to TrundleManor.com and contact Mr. Arm yourself and tell them Josh from Theme Park University sent you. I promise you won’t regret it.