Discovery Island Electrical Water Pageant History Preview Center River Country stolport Ted Kellogg Tom Nabbe

At Disney, It’s Always about The Story … Even When the Story Isn’t Quite True

At Disney, it’s all the time about The Story. Nothing is ever conceived or built without an intriguing storyline to help it.

The Story is all the time at the core of every thing Disney does in its parks, from restaurants to themed lands, to points of interest and exhibits in these lands. It even extends to the properties where friends retreat to after an extended day in those parks.

When the members of Walt Disney Imagineering current an concept for a new attraction, an amazing story higher be weaved into it.

This aerial photograph exhibits the now-abandoned River Nation, bottom middle, Discovery Island, right, the Modern Resort, prime middle, and Shipwreck Island, situated between the Modern and Wilderness Lodge properties. [The Walt Disney Company]For example, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice in the Magic Kingdom isn’t simply one other household pleasant curler coaster. It’s the elaborate presentation of Snow White’s pint-sized pals hanging out in the place where one million diamonds shine.

Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom is the hottest Walt Disney World attraction by far, in large part as a result of it combines progressive know-how with an Avatar-based story about learning the way to fly on the again of a banshee.

Even the resorts that permeate the property have themes hooked up to them: The almost 50-year previous Modern Resort nonetheless emotes a contemporary, futuristic aura; Previous Key West celebrates the conch republic; whereas Animal Kingdom Lodge is resplendent in its genuine African finery.

About the only issues at Disney World that don’t come with a narrative hooked up to them are the buses… until you contemplate a bus displaying up on time one thing to put in writing residence about.

But what if the story you’re being advised during a stay at Walt Disney World stretches the fact a tad? Or what if that story is embellished to the level where it makes nice entertainment… but isn’t fairly true?

Listed here are two examples:

Final yr, we found ourselves aboard a Disney Magical Categorical bus from Orlando International Airport to our Walt Disney World resort.

The Walt Disney World STOLport during its days of operation in the 1970s. [D23]Our driver determined to play Disney trivia with these on board on the method to our resort. The questions have been somewhat tough and stumped most of the passengers. Then he requested: “What was the first building to open on Walt Disney World property?”

That’s straightforward, I assumed. The Preview Middle, which was situated alongside what’s now Lodge Plaza Boulevard.

The driver’s answer? The Walt Disney World STOLport, which was constructed a stone’s throw from the Transportation and Ticket Middle. The reply sounded nice… nevertheless it was incorrect.

First of its sort in the United States

The STOLport, which stands for Brief Take-Off and Landing, was the first airstrip of its variety in the United States. The concept was to allow Walt Disney World visitors to fly to a large Florida city like Tampa or Miami, then take a smaller airplane and land proper on WDW property.

Development on the WDW STOLport began in early 1971. The airstrip [about 2,000 feet long, with a taxiway and a small office building], opened on Oct. 17, 1971.

Walt Disney World swung open its gates about two weeks earlier, on Oct. 1, 1971, which suggests there were a heck of a whole lot of buildings up and operating by the time the STOLport opened.

Our driver additionally informed us that Walt Disney needed to open the airstrip on WDW property because he “piloted his own plane,” which, in fact, wasn’t true.

Walt owned his own aircraft, however an skilled pilot all the time was at the controls during his cross-country junkets.

The former Walt Disney world Preview Middle is now the headquarters of the Newbie Athletic Union.

As for the Preview Middle, it opened in January 1970, giving it the distinction of being the first constructing on WDW property open to the public. Included in the middle was a theater, which played a promotional film about the resort.

There additionally have been aerial pictures on the partitions, up to date periodically, of the large development venture, in addition to a large [625 square feet] scale mannequin of the Magic Kingdom.

The Preview Middle gave Orlando-area residents a sense of what was to return. It additionally enabled residents to apply for jobs with Disney.

Disney souvenirs have been on sale

On sale at the middle have been Disney souvenirs, including pennants, preview guidebooks and copies of the comprehensive Walt Disney’s Disneyland, written by Marty Sklar.

Greater than 1 million visitors visited the Preview Middle during its 20 months of operation. The middle closed a number of days earlier than Walt Disney World opened and the staffers have been relocated to the park.

As for the Preview Middle building, it was used as a Welcome Middle, then a U.S. Publish Office earlier than it lastly turned the nationwide headquarters of the Novice Athletic Union [AAU]. It may be seen by motorists driving along Lodge Plaza Boulevard.

Throughout a newer trip to WDW, we and a big group of associates decided to take a fireworks cruise, which again proved to shake my confidence in what Disney forged members are telling us.

This dock serviced visitors to what was then referred to as Treasure Island. Sections of it are still seen to boaters on Bay Lake. [The Walt Disney Company]The cruise departed from the docks at the Modern on Bay Lake. Our two snug pontoon boats sailed out from the dock in the path of the former Discovery Island, which was a deal with for Disney geeks like me. Discovery Island is the largest of two islands situated in the one-mile broad Bay Lake.

Discovery Island was a nature preserve open from 1974 to 1999. It was initially referred to as Blackbeard’s Island, then it turned Treasure Island, and eventually Discovery Island.

After arriving by boat, visitors explored the island on foot, the place many unique birds, animals and reptiles lived and thrived.

In actuality, Discovery Island was a precursor to Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A place where conservation efforts have been put on display and where friends might study about some of the creatures with which we share the planet.

A information map for Disney’s Treasure Island, situated on Bay Lake.

In truth, more than 400 exotic birds inhabited the island. Most lived in a place referred to as Smugglers’ Roost, which boasted of being one in every of the largest aviaries in the world. Quite a lot of cranes, flamingos, peafowls and guineafowl, a relative of the vulture, inhabited the island.

After Discovery Island closed in 1999, the Safari Village section of Animal Kingdom theme park was renamed Discovery Island.

As our boat made its method close to Blackbeard’s/Treasure/Discovery Island, the unique dock and some of its still-standing buildings have been visible.

As soon as we had circled Discovery Island, our pilot identified the remnants of River Country, Disney’s first water park, which has been abandoned since 2005. A brand new Disney resort is predicted to rise from the ashes of the shuttered park in a number of years.

Sailing previous Shipwreck Island

From right here, we sailed past the only other island on Bay Lake, which our pilot referred to as Shipwreck Island. It’s situated between the Wilderness Lodge and Modern shorelines, proper earlier than the water bridge that crosses over World Drive to Seven Seas Lagoon.

She talked about that the unique plans referred to as for a home to be built on the island, to be used by Walt Disney and his household. She stated that staff went so far as to run electrical strains to the island and that they’re nonetheless there to today.

When the pilot made these proclamations, I assumed it was a reasonably nice story, but I made a decision to verify with my two go-to guys on the subject of the early days of development on the WDW property: Tom Nabbe and Ted Kellogg.

This map from 1972 provides an awesome overview of the Magic Kingdom and its surrounding environs: The two islands on Bay Lake [Blackbeard’s and Shipwreck, center right can be seen, as well as the STOLport landing strip, lower right. [Chuck Schmidt]Nabbe, a Disney Legend who has a window on Essential Road above the marquee of the cinema and was the supervisor throughout the monorail’s development, knew nothing of the plans to construct a house on the island.

“That’s a first for me,” he stated. “I have not heard of that one before. The only place where I’ve heard of a place for Walt was the apartment in the castle.”

Kellogg, who was in command of watercraft when the park opened, was conscious of Shipwreck Island, but not to be used as a residence.

All the islands had electrical energy run to them

“That little island is called Shipwreck,” Kellogg confirmed. “All the islands [in Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake] had power run to them when the lakes have been low.

“Seven Seas was man-made and the dirt was used to raise the Magic Kingdom to install the tunnels under the park. Bay Lake was drained to clear brush and trees” and make it simpler for boats to ply its waters.

The pure white sand found underneath the silt and debris in Bay Lake was used to line the shores of both lakes.

Discovery Island, in fact, needed plumbing strains, fresh-water strains and electrical conduit to help employees, visitors and its permanent residents.

After we crossed over the water bridge, the pilot positioned us in the middle of Seven Seas Lagoon in a main viewing space for the fireworks. We have been joined by about 12 different pontoons and the two bigger pontoons used for the Pirates and Buddies Fireworks Excursion.

The Electrical Water Pageant glides past the Bora Bora Bungalows at the Polynesian Resort [David Roark/Walt Disney World]After the fireworks, we have been treated to an up close and personal view of the Electrical Water Pageant, which was passing within a couple of ft of our boat.

Our pilot positioned the boat to offer us a shocking view of the timeless attraction which, coincidentally, Ted Kellogg helped create.

The pilot then advised us that the Electrical Water Pageant “was a gift from the Polynesian islands.”

The actual story behind the Water Pageant

That sounded good, what with the Polynesian Resort in full view, however having helped Ted together with his ebook Passport to Pixie Dust, I knew the real story behind the pageant’s genesis.

After WDW opened in 1971, the people at WED Enterprises, the forerunner of Walt Disney Imagineering, have been tasked with arising with a night-time show to provide park friends “a kiss goodnight.”

The concept was to present a present on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon to be seen to friends at the Modern, Polynesian and Fort Wilderness resorts.

They went to Ted and asked for his enter. It was determined to put collectively a string of pontoon boats. Aluminum wire mesh cages can be hooked up to them, with tiny lights affixed to the mesh. Also on board have been turbines to power the present, which might take on a nautical theme.

Though the Electrical Water Pageant passes by the Polynesian each night time, it was bought and paid for by Disney, in line with Kellogg.

“To my knowledge, Disney did the design and paid the bill,” he stated.

Sure, the whole lot Disney does is about The Story. But typically, as we’ve discovered on two events, these stories may be embellished to the point of not truly being correct.

Have you ever ever heard an embellished story whereas visiting Walt Disney World? let us know in the comments under!

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