We all have those odd jobs we never quite get round to and you’ll need to be a longtime reader of DLRPToday.com now to remember the demise of Hurricanes Discotheque back in March 2010. So it’s with some relief that, three years on, we report the unmistakably ’90s nightclub spot in Disney Village is at last being white-washed into the history books.
The latest photo above by DisneyGazette.fr shows the exterior stripped of its colourful fake palm trees and the stairs repainted in plain white — removing the previous Hurricanes Discotheque branding and slogans. Here’s hoping the tacky beach shack and all other remnants will be removed soon, too.
Below, the venue as it was before, pictured in April 2012.
Current consensus seems to be that the location will become a Cast Member restaurant or break space, a slightly disappointing use for a prime space within Disney Village which would itself still benefit from an improved dining offer. Previous rumours, soon after the nightclub’s closure, were for an ESPN Zone, a new Sports Bar or an Italian restaurant.
Just a couple of weeks ago Rainforest Cafe in Disney Village lost two of its toadstools along with another of the original Festival Disney columns, exposing the bare white walls above its ground floor themeing. We wondered what was planned for the building, and now we have an answer: a “blue sky” idea, but perhaps not the “big thinking” type. Yes, the white wall started turning blue last week, pictured above on Thursday by @InsideDLParis. Initially looking like a gradient effect similar to the Crush’s Coaster façade, a look at the completed paintjob on Saturday by PanoraMagique frequent flyer “manuchao” below shows it to be more of a solid block blue, perhaps designed just to fade into the background.
Another “temporary” fix-up is the last thing Disney Village needs, though this is at least unlikely to provoke such a negative reaction as the coloured “balloons” which sprung up over the Village’s towers and buildings in 2005. Any improvements to this block will be complicated by the fact that Rainforest Cafe only occupies the ground floor, meaning that ideas to retheme the whole height as temple walls, similar to the Downtown Disney Anaheim location, are probably out of the question. Following the announcement of its use as a “consolation” venue for the cancelled Princesses & Pirates Parties, we now also know that no work on a Hurricane’s Discotheque replacement will begin before July at the earliest.
So Disneyland Paris did sell enough tickets to justify these four after-hours parties? That’s what their official statement sent to ticketholders suggests, with the official reason actually being that the “prolonged refurbishments” throughout the park wouldn’t have allowed the parties to go ahead to the standard of quality Disney originally wanted. With Sleeping Beauty Castle half-covered in scrims, areas closed for repaving and of course the icon of the park’s pirating land, Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship, also soon set to undergo a complete rebuild, that’s probably true — they couldn’t have picked a worse time in the history of Fantasyland and Adventureland to promote a Princesses and Pirates event. Whilst some refurbishment dates have slipped, the final schedules were surely known some time ago now.
An official statement (translated from French) reads:
Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party due to take place on 1st, 10th, 17th and 24th June in Fantasyland and Adventureland have been cancelled due to prolonged refurbishments underway in some parts of Disneyland. We are aware of your disappointment regarding the cancellation of these events, however this decision was taken because the current conditions would not permit the event to meet the Disney standard of quality. Disneyland Paris apologise for the inconvenience and thank visitors for their loyalty.
Visitors who have reserved tickets for the evenings can get a refund by contacting our reservation center at 01 60 30 30 30 or their tour operator.
For those who are still visiting the resort on the scheduled dates, in addition to a full refund of the ticket price, we invite you to join us in the space of Hurricane’s Disney Village between 5pm and 8pm on the day of the event originally planned, to spend a moment with our Disney Princesses and Pirates with a refreshing drink.* (*Details to be confirmed upon refunding of ticket)
The closing date has been brought forward to 1st March 2010. Yes, this coming Monday.
Despite several previous planned closures of the nightclub, located above Rainforest Cafe, never coming to pass, it looks like they’re really serious this time. The kitsch relic of original Festival Disney will close for good just shy of its 18th birthday.
We provided a look back and some explanations for the closure in our previous article — along with a few rumours for the future. A Jules Verne theme pub? That long-awaited Italian restaurant?
Well here’s another, just for fun. Posted in the comments of that earlier article (always a good source, you’ll surely agree), the suggestion that Cast Members have heard the space is in fact being primed ready for another “long-awaited” Disney Village venue… an ESPN Zone, complete with big-screen TVs and comfy loungers, just in time for the FIFA World Cup! Meanwhile, that Italian restaurant would instead take the place of the current Sports Bar.
The ESPN Zone is a chain of dining/shopping/sports/arcade indoor entertainment venues owned and operated by Disney Regional Entertainment, using the brand of the ESPN sports broadcasting network owned by Disney. With a location at Downtown Disney in California as well as across the United States, they’ve long been rumoured to arrive in Paris in a brand new unit, to the left of the Walt Disney Studios Park entrance, near the Disney Village parking structure, opposite the rumoured World of Disney Store.
The Hurricanes space is nowhere near big enough for a true ESPN Zone, its first floor location hardly ideal, and it’d be strange to shutter the Sports Bar with its useful covered outdoor space, but you never know… Disney just launched ESPN into the UK in full force last year and the network has already become a very recognisable brand for British sports fans. Meanwhile, the additional ESPN Classic and ESPN America channels have been spreading across France and other European countries for several years.
Just another possibility to add to the growing list. Anyone going to offer a fourth?!
The news came via trusty magicforum host Kristof, that Hurricanes Discotheque at the end of Disney Village will close permanently on 31st March 2010. The night club has apparently been scheduled to end its days for several years already, with nothing eventually coming of any of the earlier dates. Will the Cyclone Special cocktail be gone for good this time? Certainly sounds like it.
As improvements and additions have spread through the Village in recent years, Hurricanes has slowly become a final champion for that original Festival Disney spirit, sitting up there above Rainforest Cafe like Carl Fredrickson surrounded by skyscrapers. It’s a remnant of the early ’90s idea that the entertainment district should be a “hip”, “happening”, buzzing nighttime spot, the streets filled with party-goers until the early hours. An idea that never really happened.
The official 1992 Euro Disney Guidebook enthuses:
Hurricanes — Festival Disney’s disco nightclub is just above the Key West Seafood restaurant. Having climbed the spiral staircase, you’ll be swept up into the whirlwind of nightlife. Hurricanes boasts four different bars, including one in the indoor terrace, plus twenty video screens, cosy corners for talking and a dance floor that’s open until 3 am. Don’t be surprised if you catch yourself standing there sipping on a Caribbean or Cyclone Special cocktail, dreaming of Key Largo.
Hurricanes was originally part of a small Key West district in Festival Disney, comprising Key West Seafood below (closed 1998), the Surf Shop opposite (now World of Toys) and the then-rainforest-animal-free lagoon behind. In what must be one of the kitchiest ideas in history, the dance floor was originally covered in sand. Which must have been fun in heels.
Why close a fun venue like this? The official reason: “repositioning” of Disney Village. What kind of repositioning hasn’t been clarified by Disney, but it’s not hard to work out. Just as the nightclubs and comedy clubs of Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World in Florida have been swallowed up by the wider Downtown Disney, to be replaced with new shops and restaurants, it seems a venue like Hurricanes simply doesn’t fit in their current focus on either side of the Atlantic.
Indeed, with its foam parties and “ladies nights” where women get in free, it’s not a surprise that Disneyland Paris have been thinking about dropping the venue for a while. And did you notice it’s a little dated? Would the cost of improving the nightclub, updating the staircase entrance (which has become rather tacky with subsequent additions, long after Frank Gehry left), really be worthwhile? Probably not, which brings the second element of the “repositioning”…
Stating the obvious, a nightclub like Hurricanes is useless during the day. Here we have a substantial, prime space right in the middle of Disney Village just lying empty for most of the day up until 8pm, when a café or restaurant could have tills ringing (for much greater amounts) right through from morning. Though we still mourn Buffalo Trading Co, just look how much better utilised that space is as a Starbucks café.
What could be pushing Hurricanes out? No replacement has been announced…
However, the first floor location naturally points to a bar, café or restaurant, something which unlike a shop doesn’t rely on heavy footfall. Recent rumours that Groupe Flo, the group which operates almost all of the Disney Village restaurants, is interested in another venue could well ring true. The resort has experimented with promoting an Italian menu at Hotel New York’s Manhattan Restaurant in recent years, so could this space go from the Caribbean to Italy to permanently offer this much-requested cuisine in the Village itself?
Then there’s that possibility we picked up less than a year ago — the Jules Verne-themed pub/restaurant. Check it out — the hot air balloons in the roofspace, the blue sky walls and vintage lanterns. It’d seem right at home in the elevated position of Hurricanes, with its circular observation room. If they opened up some of the nightclub’s boxy walls with large windows, you’d have a superb view out to the “real” PanoraMagique balloon and the lake.
Intriguingly, the original article (which was a brief interview with the owner of the original pub in Nantes) mentioned that they’d been offered a floorspace of 500m2. Do some flimsy measuring in Google Earth, and that’s exactly what Hurricanes has to offer.
It’s not just the spirit and idea of Hurricanes which seems out of sync with the rest of the Village: The blank white exterior is one of the few remaining Frank Gehry boxes, which worked with the 1992 “party district” ideas but were ultimately diluted with later add-ons, certainly never looking all that pleasant on any but the sunniest of days. We mentioned with the Earl of Sandwich concepts that that new restaurant offered the opportunity to hide this exterior behind it, but even so this big white box will still be clearly visible. A change of tenant would surely fix this final piece.
As Disney Village has come blinking into the daytime, gaining its eco-clad Starbucks, planters and trees, time has finally caught up with Hurricanes. Finish up your Caribbean cocktail, put those Key Largo dreams to sleep. The storm is almost over.
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