The Brave Little Barfly

Today was the first day I’ve had off in a couple of weeks. I spent the bulk of it napping, interspersed with rides on the Tower of Terror.

After being awakened (awoken?) by fireworks, I headed to Downtown Disney to the Adventurers Club. Full disclosure: this was my second night in a row there, and I went alone, and I did get a little tipsy. Still, I can be smug and sanctimonious enough to point out the people there who were messed up.

I’ve never been consistent enough in my bar-going to spot the regulars, but I know they’re out there. They have their routine, and their regular drinks, and their awkward conversations with the barstaff, and in the most uncomfortable of situations, they prey on younger bar-goers. Combine the sadness of the barfly with the loneliness of the Disney “That Guy,” and you end up with the Disney Drunk, a sight so melancholy it’s like the saddest song played on the black keys of the world’s most depressing piano.

The Adventurers Club, in case you don’t know, is on Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, and is actually an extremely cool concept. It’s kind of a dinner theater thing without the dinner, set in an adventurer’s club in the 1930s. The cast of characters roams throughout interacting with the drunk guests, and there’s lots of stuff on the walls that talks. Disney plus improv comedians means some of the corniest innuendo you’d ever want to hear, but somehow it all ends up working. Tonight during one of the bits the guys launched into a rendition of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” from Young Frankenstein that was pretty hilarious.

The place has its own slogans and in-jokes and cheers and such, so you get a lot of repeat guests. In addition to the hairy guy wearing the tropical shirt (me, who was referred to as “mustache man” for much of the night), there was:

  • A good-looking and very well-dressed man in a suit with Adventurers’ Club pins in his lapel. He did all the cheers and would go from group to group, chatting with anyone who made eye contact.
  • An older gentleman in a black T-shirt and shorts, who went from room to room just before the show would start, like clockwork, and occasionally chatted with
  • A young woman dressed in black, wearing make-up much like a woman who learned to wear make-up when she was in her Goth phase in high school and outgrew that but never had anything to fall back on.

The latter two told me to avoid sitting in a corner seat I’d picked out, because I’d be hit when the door of a cabinet flew open during the show. (I did, and I almost was). They chatted amongst themselves about which actor was playing which part this evening, calling both by name and referring to the club’s different shows in some kind of code (e.g. “Bob’s doing Hathaway tonight in the 11:50 Mask Room.”) In other words, they’re insiders.

It was all fascinating, and became even more fascinating the more I drank. It was like its own little ecosystem in the middle of the gigantic entertainment megalopolis of Walt Disney World. The only barfly I’ve encountered at Disneyland — the “Velvet Misery” — was a lot more depressing, because it seemed more personal. Everything at Disney World is on a much grander scale, which makes it all seem like a giant social studies experiment. Including the absolutely shitfaced young woman who kept telling the cast that it was her boyfriend’s birthday, and how they ended up with several members of the cast giving him a spanking with a tennis racket while onlookers laughed somewhat nervously, and how we all knew that they deal with this kind of thing every night and that there’s probably some Operations Manual written down somewhere telling them that spanking a young drunk man with a tennis racket is acceptable behavior and where exactly that line is drawn.

Also, I overheard one of the cast talking to a group of people about the project I’m working on. That was cool.