Extinct WDW Attraction with unbuilt
Opened: April 8, 1974
As the above ticket suggests,
Treasure Island could
be accessed by either
taking a direct motor
launch from a resort
dock or as part the
"Walt Disney World
Cruise," a tour of the
Seven Seas Lagoon and
Bay Lake that stopped
at the Island. The island
was recommended as a
low-key diversion that
could occupy up to
one-half of a guest's day
and help round out the complete, varied and leisurely vacation experience that set
WDW apart from Disneyland. In the end it was the island's understated nature that
contributed so substantially to its demise.
- A 320 foot by 102 foot aviary measuring 40 feet in height and with an elevated
boardwalk (shown above).
|Unfortunately something went awry in the late 1980s. In September of 1989 the
Orange-Osceola state attorney and a U.S. attorney in Orlando filed 16 charges against
five Discovery Island employees for a number of alleged offenses that
included the mishandling of vultures and other wild birds, the destruction of ibis and
egret nests and the shooting of hawks and falcons. All of this activity was attributed to
attempts made by the five staff members to manage or relocate the animals in
question, as they had become nuisances and often disturbed the other species living
on the island. The case was ultimately settled, Discovery Island kept its AZA
accreditation and Disney enacted a sweeping series of company-wide environmental
policies. One cannot help but wonder, however, if there weren't those within the
company harking back to the sage advice regarding live animal exhibition that had
led Walt Disney to devise electronic alternatives.
While damage was done in the public's mind due to this and similar problems that occurred during the same time period elsewhere at WDW, the Discovery Island staff persevered and kept the park running in a respectable manner for many more years. In the 1990s, for example, Discovery Island was the first zoological park to breed South American Maguari storks and white crested hornbills.
In spite of the turnaround, Disney decided to close Discovery Island not long after the Animal Kingdom park debuted. On April 8, 1999, 25 years after it first opened, Discovery Island officially saw its last guests. A few "postmortem" visits were still accommodated past that date, but the end was close at hand. The company attributed the decision to lagging visitation, evidently a result of too many other options and diversions for guests to investigate during the course of finite vacation time. Discovery Island had become yet another relic from a past WDW era.
As for the post-sanctuary identity of this island that was pivotal in Walt Disney's decision to build his Florida empire where it now resides, there were brief discussions between the Disney company and the creators of the software game Myst surrounding a possible collaboration. Those talks, however, ended abruptly in late 1999 and the island's future has remained sketchy since that time. Legend has it that at least one urban exploration group made an overnight visit to the island in 2008 and found what was left of the facilities looking like a set from Lost. If you believe in legends.
* The name Blackbeard's Island was reassigned to one of the three smaller islands in the Seven Seas Lagoon.
** The Walt Disney Company broke from its off-limits psychology regarding the development of those 7,500 acres in the mid-1990s. At that time they decided to opt for a land mitigation approach in which they purchased land further afield from their more lucrative original acreage and proceeded with plans for the construction of Celebration on the land which was originally to remain untouched.
Additional Treasure Island / Discovery Island Images & Video
|IMAGES - click on any of the thumbnails below for larger images|
|more to follow...|
|VIDEO - The first video below is from Crystel Video's YouTube channel, the second is from Vault Disney's.|
|Links to other Treasure Island / Discovery Island Resources|
|Better Living Through Imagineering's flickr.com Treasure Island Photo Set|