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Friday, August 5, 2016

Could The Adventurers Club be Returning in an Entirely New Way?


by: guide4wdw - Collin

As you may or may not know, Disney has been slowly developing a secret society for many years. The group is very rarely referenced, but for some reason has seen a great resurgence throughout the last year. While this doesn't necessarily prove an upcoming reboot of “The Adventurer’s Club”, it does seem to lead the way for something completely new that could tie up the loose ends of the ever changing and constantly evolving story of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

For many that name will ring a bell, but for others it may be one of the little details that you could have very easily overlooked throughout your time in the parks. The Society of Explores and Adventurers (S.E.A) began quite a few years ago when Downtown Disney included an area called Pleasure Island. As a part of the experience a nightclub began that was named “The Adventurers Club”.

Under the leadership of Joe Rhode, Disney had created a club that grew to achieve a devout following and fan base that many assume led to the story of the entire society as a whole and its incorporation in the Disney Parks and Resorts world-wide. The club was an incredibly unique experience that became a center of nightlife for years at Walt Disney World. The location had a certain ora of mystery to it that begged guests to continue coming back to explore and learn about the many aspects of the adventure and mystery that were so difficult to uncover. There was a club pledge, a song, and even a few live shows along the way, but the most incredible aspect was that everything was so believable that it could very easily be a part of a realistic tale that had been told for generations. 

Unfortunately, the Club closed its doors just over 8 years ago and no definite signs of its return are anywhere on the horizon, at least not in the way that it formerly was. However, a deeper level story has continued on in a very subtle and secretive way that unless you look for it is virtually untraceable.

After the Adventurers Club met its infinite demise, the society actually became much more secretive than it had been in the past. Fortunately, subtle nods popped up in the international parks. The story itself is never directly told, but is rather left up to the guests to slowly figure out over time by piecing the story to gather and tracing the characters through time. While not an attraction, it could very well be an Imagineering marvel!   

At Tokyo Disney Sea, a member of the society (Harrison Hightower III) is seen in a portrait exploring the Lost River Delta which is home to the Temple of the Crystal Skull. While that seems like a fairly innocent reference, it could be a subtle connection to the Indian Jones franchise and more specifically Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, an attraction also at Tokyo Disney Sea. 

As you may know, the Indiana Jones franchise has recently surfaced by means of Jock Lindsey’s Hangar bar at the recently redeveloped Disney Springs. In the press release for the new bar, Disney released this statement connecting it to the society in a way that had not been directly referenced in the U.S. parks sense The Adventurers Club’s demise. 

"Jock made a home at this waterfront property in the 1940s after discovering this charming little town while flying Indiana Jones over the Sunshine State in search of the elusive Fountain of Youth in 1938. As a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Jock often welcomed his globetrotting friends to his hangar for a drink and fun times.”

While that does bring the story full circle back to “Downtown Disney”, it doesn't really and truly explain the connection. However, directly after this locations debut, other, less subtle references began to develop throughout Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

That brings us to Jungle Skipper Canteen in Adventureland. Disney directly states that the location functioned as a secret meeting area of the S.E.A. but never fully develops the backstory and connection to the club. Within the restaurant there is a secret room behind a bookcase that has now been opened to the public because it is “no longer in use by the society”. The club seal is proudly displayed on the wall, but the actual room itself adds to the mystery more than it truly answers any of the questions the elaborate tale has created. It’s almost as if the “missing link” has been intentionally left out of the entire design. 

(As a side note, be sure to take a look at the bookshelves for subtle references to Disney legends and executives… John Lasseter, Marty Sklar, etc.) 

Even more recently than the Canteen, after the remodel of Big Thunder Mountain, associations between a Barnabas T. Bullion (President and Founder of the Big Thunder Mining Company)  and a Jason Chandler popped up in the queue of the attraction by means of a letter. The letter clearly states Chandler advising Bullion to abandon the mine after a former incident. While that is intriguing on its own, the letter is conveniently signed “Founding Member… The Society of Explorers and Adventurers”. 

While none of these conceptual references surrounding attractions and dining locations necessarily point to one particular "next step" by Disney Imagineering, it does present the notion that there has to be something to the story. It isn't like Imagineering to develop something so elaborate for no particular reason and the continuing references throughout the parks nation wide imply that something must be coming to tie everything together. There’s no way to know what’s coming, but the implication of something big on the horizon involving the S.E.A. seems inevitable. 

Additional areas of the Disney Parks and resorts also refer to the club, but definite links have never been formerly established. For example, the society is even showing up in more unusual locations such as the Oceaneer Lab aboard the Disney Magic and is even rumored to be appearing in Shanghai Disneyland in many different ways! The latest in the theme parks based comic series even references the society in a round about way in the story of Thunder Mountain.

Also, there is a direct reference in the entire theming of Mystic Manor (Hong Kong Disney’s Haunted Mansion variant) including pictures of the society, two members of the club telling the story of the attraction and many other hidden tales that I won’t speak of here so that the attraction isn't ruined.

While it’s been many years sense the story of the society began, it’s impossible not to wonder what comes next. With the development of Disney Springs nearing completion it’s almost certain a variation of the Adventurers Club will not be returning there. However, there is a certain level of intrigue that is presented as to why Disney has held on to the story for so long and connected it throughout their parks to inevitably no obvious conclusion to the story. It’s almost as if Imagineering is building up for something big that many of us have been waiting for over the years. 

Granted, it may not be a new, physical club, but it’s hard to overlook that there must be something there. There’s too much buildup and too much of a story that is intentionally hidden for it not to lead to something big. I have absolutely no idea what that may be, but for some reason it feels as if there must be something more to the story or rather a different “conclusion” to the story that will go beyond a clever theming concept. There has to be a reason for everything at an Imagineering level and to me it seems inevitable that something big could be on the horizon for the “secret” society. 

What would you like to see in the next development of the story? Do you think it’s just a clever addition to attractions or could it be a setup for one of Imagineering’s next big debuts? Maybe the theming for a big on-screen film? or even possibly something beyond the parks altogether? Be sure to let me know in the comments. 

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