23 March ’16
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Elland Road watching my first proper football match. Unfortunately Leeds lost 1-4 to local rivals Huddersfield, and played pretty terribly throughout.
I went with work colleagues and we had a corporate box, so it was a decent day out with a good three course meal and good hospitality throughout. It’s not turned me into a football fan though.
For as long as anybody can remember, there’s been a secret society called the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (the S.E.A). This society is dedicated to the gathering of new-found knowledge and the continued exploration of the world’s oceans and exotic lands, and their charter deems the concepts of adventure, romance, discovery and innovation most worthy. Their main base is now Fortress Explorations in Tokyo Disney Sea, and whilst they are pretty open about their activities these days there’s still many stories still untold - the walls of their explorers hall has stories going back centuries, and yet new information is still coming to light on a regular basis. They are so open these days that one can actually become a member of the society by completing a quest that’s open to anybody, unfortunately the quest requires Japanese language skills so I've not yet been able to join.
Tokyo Disney Sea (S.E.A - get it?) not only hosts the main base of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, but tales about the society appear throughout the entire park. It's the central point around which so much of the recent society stories have formed.
The Society of Explorers and Adventurers has over the years been known by other names. The Adventurers Club in Paradise Pier in Florida and the Explorers Club in Hotel Hightower are two examples of this. The chapters around the world seem free to choose their own names, but are all intrinsically linked. In December 2018 the Tropical Hideaway opened in Disneyland California, linked to both the Jungle River Cruises and the Tiki Room; this Tropical Hideaway features boat oars from various SEA expiditions over the years, including one from Meriweather Adam Pleasure - founder of Pleasure Island and charter member of the Adventurers Club in Florida.
The first time I came across any of these clubs was when dining at the Jungle Skipper Canteen and the skipper told us about the Adventurers Club. The Jungle Navigation Company was established in 1911 by Dr. Alberta Falls, but due to fewer full-fledged expeditions in the area, pivoted to provide a river cruise for tourists - and the canteen became home to the skippers who ran these cruises. This canteen eventually opened up to the general public, including the secret club room there. And there’s even menu items referring to both the S.E.A and the Adventurers Club secret greeting - Kungaloosh. The club library still exists, and features books written by such prominent society members and friends as Albert Falls, Henry Mystic, Meriweather Adam Pleasure, Trader Sam, Captain Nemo, Indiana Jones and Harrison Hightower III. Do ask to see the secret club room, and ask to be taught the secret handshake if you ever visit.
The Jungle River Cruises started in 1927, and around the same time the aforementioned Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island was founded. This was the first SEA chapter to be known by the general public, and is now well documented in its own right on Wikipedia. This documentary evidence tells us that members of the Adventurers Club are known to have travelled with the Jungle Cruise and that many of the items on display around the docks there actually belong to a private collection from the Adventurers Club. Perhaps the most interesting item is a letter that links the Adventurers Club president to Harrison Hightower, member of the S.E.A and owner of the Hightower Hotel (which had its very own Explorers Club meeting hall on the 5th floor).
Over a decade later in 1938, Jock Lindsey, a confirmed S.E.A member, flew with Indiana Jones over Florida for the first time - in hunt for the fountain of youth. He returned to the area in the 1940s to make his home and set up a small business - Jock Lindsey’s Air Tours. Some time after that he also opened the hangar up as a bar to host his S.E.A friends, with artifacts on display from their various adventures. This is another venue open to the public, situated in modern day Disney Springs.
The Jungle Cruise Navigational Company are still operating to this day, and in the past few years Trader Sam called on his friends from the company to help him decorate his Enchanted Tiki Bar after his expertise in head shrinking turned into an interest in mixology. Letters and artifacts from his travels and the Jungle Navigational Company adorn the walls of his bar. Some of those letters and postcards feature prominent Adventurers Club members, including the president and some of the entertainers who worked there.
But the society goes back so much further than the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company. The walls of the Fortress Explorations base tell stories going back centuries, but the furthest back we can directly trace the society is to the Explorers Club and Pillagers Brigade that Harrison Hightower was involved in. Unfortunately Harrison Hightower went missing sometime around 1899 in mysterious circumstances around his last expedition involving a Shiriki Utundu idol from somewhere around the ancient Peruvian altar known as Raging Spirits. Though his hotel in Tokyo Disney SEA no longer operates, the building is still standing and guests can still visit it on a tour led by the New York Preservation Society.
Of course we mustn't forget the role that Mystic Manor has had in promoting the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Whilst we've known about the Adventurers Club for years, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong was the location of the first chapter to publicly talk about the wider global network of clubs which form the SEA. Here, there is a museum of artifacts that SEA member Lord Henry Mystic has collected as well as a cafeteria named after the club. Lord Mystic has written a number of books over the years, and some of these can be found in the Jungle Skipper Canteen - the very same one operated by the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company. Whilst on the West Coast of the USA, one of Henry's oars from an 1874 expedition can be seen at the Tropical Hideaway.
Finally for now - the owner of Big Thunder Mining Company, Barnabas T. Bullion is another well known member of the S.E.A according to letters on display at the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. One wouldn’t be surprised then if a clubhouse somewhere close to the mountain is discovered in the coming years.
There are undoubtedly stories and connections that I have missed in this run-down of the SEA. If you have anything to add, then please get in touch.
Today I have been using random forest models in H2O to predict which countries I should already have visited based on a number of inputs. The region, internet usage and level of peace are all good variables for predicting this it seems.
Depending on how I tweak the model Bulgaria, Slovakia and Greece keep coming out high on this list.
However whilst I agree these are good suggestions, by visiting them I’d just be giving the existing model further fuel instead of seeing somewhere unexpected.