A couple of weeks ago, I had to make an impromptu run to Orlando for a meeting regarding The Florida Anime Experience and to pick up some equipment for the Wasabi Retrocade’s upcoming appearance at the 2011 Hibiscus Festival. I was in the process of reading Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey, and it made mention of a bar called “The Nu Bamboo.” The lounge was a recently opened establishment allegedly trying to pay homage to one of the greatest bars I never got to visit… The Big Bamboo.
HISTORY LESSON (from The Big Bamboo’s website.)
The Big Bamboo, if you’re not familiar with it, is a small bar where Disney cast members and ex-cast members come to hang out. It is also a very popular spot for many British visitors. The drinks are cheap and the ambiance is… eclectic. The atmosphere is comfortable and everyone feels right at home. The music is low enough that you can talk, and there is usually a lot of conversation. The music is mostly Big Band, Reggae and Buffett plus some 50’s Rock and Roll.
You may see references to Big Bamboo in the media now and then; it’s well known in this area and a favorite of many, even though its interior looks like a garage sale gone awry. Some of the tables are old wire rope spools, the Christmas tree in the corner is left up all year long, the bar napkins come on a round dispenser, only 3 sheets per visit and no one is overly fussy about cleaning the place.
Over the course of 15-20 years, cast members have contributed extensively to the decor, which initially started out displaying Bruce’s paraphernalia from his navy aviator days. The walls now are completely covered with new and old Disney name tags, t-shirts, hats, and business cards. If you want to contribute your name tag or whatever, step right up and pin it or fasten it to some open section (if you can find one). Actually, the ceiling still has a lot of blank spots.
Lest it seem that Disney has a monopoly, it’s only because so many cast members have been going there for years. Actually you can add items from any local business. There’s foreign money taped behind the bar, there are aviator helmets, Sea World and Universal mementos, a few “unmentionables” and sundry items too numerous to mention.
Alas, the Big Bamboo was closed in 2004 due to hurricane damage and THEN, in December 2005, a fire destroyed what was left of the building.
I never got to go and, based on what I’ve read, it’s the exact sort of place I would have loved to have visited. SO – the prospect of a bar built as an homage seemed like a great stop to make while in Orlando. I posted the idea on Twitter and my friend Seth (who lives in O-Town) jumped at the idea to meet up.
Thus, between the description of the building on the Nu Bamboo website and our respective GPS instructions, we found it… or, more appropriately: we found the location. Here’s my tweet from that fateful moment:
Seth and I drove down the road at Smokey Bones and got some wings. Even the beer and the amazingly large breasts on our server could quell our disappointment… but so it goes.
In the end: I blame Tim Dorsey (because it HAS to be someone’s fault.)