To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WDWCP: West Side Nights

Earlier we spent some Thursday nights at Pleasure Island, which was one-third of what was then called Downtown Disney. It is now Disney Springs and Pleasure Island doesn't exist anymore. Today we will visit another section of classic Downtown Disney, West Side!

I absolutely love West Side! It is Disney, but not in-your-face Disney like the Marketplace is. (We will visit the Marketplace next time.) I loved the twinkly lights above the walkway at night. Basically, for me, this was more enjoyable at night. There were non-Disney stores to check out, and normal pop music being played over the speakers. It just has a unique vibe of its own, at least to me.

Planet Hollywood looked like a giant globe and could easily be seen as you approached Downtown Disney. Inside and out were various props from movies. Forrest Gump's suit inside and his boat outside are things that I remember the most. I never did eat there, just visited the gift shop and checked out what I could for free. I admit it took me a while to comprehend that strange green thing on the top of the gift shop. Initially I thought maybe a dinosaur? But why? Then I realized I was in Florida... gators galore down there! But still, WHY? Why did Planet Hollywood need these cartoon looking thing on top of it. Was it from a movie and I don't know? Do you know?

Without a doubt my favorite place to spend endless amounts of time was the Virgin Megastore. Look at the size of that thing! I can't even fit it all into one photo. Two stories, full of movies, music, books, games... even a coffee shop and DJ playing music! I loaded up on Alanis Morisette imported CDs and some quirky books that I still have. I remember visiting with Christina and Jamie once and did not understand why they were obsessing over these Chicken Soup For the Soul books. Who goes to a store to read cook books? Yeah, they are not cookbooks. I missed that memo. Check out that photo to the left! I took that from upstairs looking down only a small section of the CDs available for sale. There was even a room just for classical music, a space for jazz, children's music. My favorite was the imports since I was always on a search for something new. You could even buy old fashioned records! Upstairs was where you would find the books and games and other novelty type items. I miss that place. It closed in 2009 and took on various forms of life before becoming Splitsville, a cool, two-story retro bowling alley. I always said Disney needed a place to bowl. It took them years, but they finally did it!

House of Blues was pretty cool. I loved their gift shop and all the funky things they had that I could never find in Oregon. One night 4 of us roomies went for dinner, where we ended up dedicating a lot of time to decorating our table cloth. They gave us a rubber band so we could roll it up and get it safely back to Vista Way, where it then became our wall art for above our dining room table. Yeah, we are classy!

The food at HoB, for me, isn't really my thing. But I'm a vegetarian that doesn't eat spicy food. I'm so ridiculously boring, I fully admit it!! On this particular night out I had garlic mashed potatoes for dinner. Tasty? Yes, but was it really a filling meal? No. I mean I only had mashed potatoes. BUT the atmosphere and vibe were so fun that I really didn't care.

Here is a daytime shot of House of Blues (above), easily recognizable by it's old water tower beside it. If you're a Blues Brothers fan or want some incense, this is a gift shop you want to visit! Sunday nights they had Service Industry Night and we could get in free. We only did that once or twice. I've never been to a rave, but it is what I imagined one would feel like. Waiting in line to get in is where I first heard of clove cigarettes. That was a unique smell for sure. Ew. But I'm not a smoker of anything at all, so of course I'd give it a bit EW! My blog is being difficult right now and won't let me do what I want, so here is a photo (left) of Danielle and I leaving the restaurant section of House of Blues, with our new tablecloth/artwork.

Vinny and I spent a lot of time at West Side, just walking around and enjoying the surroundings. You could seriously have a great night out without spending a single penny. I know, I did it all the time! Other things you could experience there in 1997 were: Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, Disney Quest, Gloria Estefan's restaurant Bongos, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, and the AMC movie theater. I never ate at Bongos, but I DID see Gloria Estefan leaving it once as I was leaving the movie theater. She is so tiny!! I ate at Wolfgang Puck Express all the time. I once was so sick I couldn't work. REALLY sick this time not "sick". I had no strength to cook anything so I got my wimpy little self onto a shuttle, went to West Side, got some macaroni and four cheese and garlic mashed potatoes to take home, and then lived off of that for days. And of course I went to the movie theater. A highlight was when I got to see one of Kate Winslet's Titanic dresses in the lobby before Titanic was even released!

I guess that will conclude our visit to West Side, you can't really end on a better note than Titanic! Next time we are at Downtown Disney we will take a walk through the Marketplace.

See ya real soon! °o°

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