Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jessica's - Signature Store of a Toon Diva

For an updated look at the Jessica Rabbit store in celebration of what would have been a big anniversary, check out these articles:

Jessica Rabbit Store 25th Anniversary:
Part One: The Beginning
Part Two: The Building
Part Three: The Merchandise

Have you ever been obsessed with a cartoon character? We all have our favorite. Now, imagine finding out there is a store dedicated to selling merchandise of only that character! Well, if you happen to like Mickey, it's not a hard thing to grasp. But, if you liked a more obscure character, like Jessica Rabbit, it would have been nothing short of a miracle. Enough has been said on the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but what could be said for a character who wasn't even the star of the film getting her very own store!

Pleasure Island opened as a nightclub-based attraction for adults, but by day everyone was welcome. Disney began to focus attention on more park-exclusive merchandise. A few stores sold merchandise of the current Disney features, an exclusive Disney animation art gallery was located in the heart of the island and then of course, there was Jessica's.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Remembering Pleasure Island

Fun for all, and all for fun!

On May 1, 1989, conjoined with the opening of Disney's MGM Studios, a new nightclub attraction area called Pleasure Island made its debut. Located at Lake Buena Vista, it was also part of the Disney Village Marketplace shopping area. It was made up of some shops and various clubs. Once the sun went down, you had to be over 18 to enter and also pay a fee. This was the first Disney attraction to sell alcohol on its premises. Every night, up until 2005, Disney celebrated with a New Year's Eve style extravaganza using fireworks, a live performance and a countdown to midnight.

Disney made up its own folklore for the island's name, claiming Merriweather Adam Pleasure, nicknamed the Grand Funmeister, founded the island in 1911 and used warehouses for his business until he disappeared in the Arctic. A great storm hit after his absence and shut down the operations of the island. In the 1980's the site was discovered and converted into a new attraction in the memory of Adam Pleasure. A dancing moon-faced mascot was used as Pleasure Island's icon.

In reality, its name may just have been taken from the Pinocchio story of the island where children go and misbehave by doing adult activities, such as drinking and smoking, but, I'm sure that information would not have looked good in brochures. To popular belief, one big reason for the attractions construction was to compete with Church Street Station, an area of downtown Orlando which had several restaurants and nighttime attractions which brought in young adults. It's said that since the booming development over the years of the Downtown Disney area, similar to Universal Studios City Walk, the heyday of Church Street Station has passed.

Pleasure Island underwent major reconstruction in 2006 and still seemed to be lacking in the original spirit it once had. Attendance was dropping and many tactics were used to bring guests back in. It also became a free attraction, drawing in a lot of hang-outs, much to the dismay of many. The nightclubs located on the property though only admit those 21 and over. Some shops and buildings there remained vacant and the fabled story of Merriweather Pleasure had largely vanished. According to staff writer, Wade Sampson, the Jessica sign appeared to be "in a dumpster," but when I conducted an interview with the sign creator, Mark Marderosian, he said Disney still had it and at one point planned on putting it up for auction.

However, with wild rumors everywhere, Disney will shut down Pleasure Island for good today, September 28, 2008. It's unknown what Disney has in store for this area, but it's said they would like to have a better traffic flow between the Disney Village Marketplace and Down Town Disney.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Exclusive Jessica Rabbit Artist Interview - Mark Marderosian

It's an honor to have a very special guest, cartoonist Mark Marderosian, for an EXCLUSIVE interview found only on about Jessica Rabbit. Over the years, and with the current pin trading phenomena, Jessica has become such a popular Disney character. This very site is inspired by none other than her own signature store, Jessica's, and this man was a vital part of that operation. I'm sure there are tons of fans wanting to know more about Jessica Rabbit and such an important person who brought her to life.

Welcome to - A Jessica Rabbit Website

Since the release of the 1988 toon-noir film Who Framed Roger Rabbit I have remained a huge fan and remember first seeing it like it was yesterday. I was captivated by the commercial on TV, and even more so with the character of Jessica Rabbit. It was a movie I KNEW I had to see. I wasn't disappointed. The artistry and attention to detail are things still admired today. It's a showcase of beautiful hand-drawn animation and superb acting.

I began a Yahoo group in 2000 called Roger Rabbit's Toon Town, which naturally focused on my favorite movie. After a few years I started a Jessica Rabbit Yahoo Group, on February 14 of 2003. I was very happy to see that Jessica was gaining in popularity with several collectible pins being released. Eventually, more merchandise became available than we had ever seen since the film was released. So, the site stayed very active and the news was flowing as Jessica Rabbit merchandise kept coming out regularly.

The years went by and Jessica Rabbit pins became the hot new Disney collectible. I enjoyed a successful time on Yahoo Groups, but it did not exactly offer everything a website needed to thrive, so I knew the time would come when I'd have to venture out and have a real site created - and after five great years on Yahoo, I put plans in motion just before the 20th Anniversary of the film.

I am not at all familiar with html so I asked for a lot of help to get the site built. Where I really came in is with the site content. I have been collecting merchandise, photos and info about Jessica since 1988. By now I have an extensive database and archive. When I began this project, I didn't realize it would become such a monster. Renaming files, writing codes, selecting colors - it was all new to me. I am also very particular, so I knew exactly what I wanted - I just didn't know how to do it. I AM the biggest Jessica Rabbit fan you will find, but trying to create the site, I had Jessica on the brain more in the those months alone than in the past 20 years. I felt like I hit my peak! I needed a break, especially being suddenly faced with the task of doing the site on my own. However, I pushed through and really started to get this site in shape with more content.

It was time Jessica Rabbit got a site dedicated to her, and I hope will serve that purpose. I suppose she could be seen as my generation's Betty Boop, with her popularity increasing vastly over the years. So far, this is the only active site dedicated to Jessica Rabbit available on the internet. I plan to keep it going as long as I can and eventually evolve into something bigger and better one day. As of now, there are over half a million page views, interviews with official Disney Jessica Rabbit artists, merchandise reviews, videos, photos and up to date news. Hopefully, there is much more to come.

Stay Tooned!

CLICK HERE for a look back at the archive.