Discovery Island (Bay Lake)
The Wreck of the Walrus on Discovery Island.
|Location||Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, United States|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
|Operated by||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts|
|Opened||April 8, 1974|
|Closed||April 8, 1999|
|Previous names||Treasure Island|
|Area||11.5 acres (4.7 ha)|
Discovery Island is an 11.5 acres (4.7 ha) island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida. Between 1974 and 1999, the island was open to guests. Disney originally named it Treasure Island, and later, Discovery Island. Here, guests could observe the island's many species of animals and birds.
From the early 1900s, the island was known as Raz Island, named after the family that lived there. In the late 1930s, it was purchased for $800 by a man named Delmar "Radio Nick" Nicholson, who renamed the island "Idle Bay Isle" and lived there for 20 years with his wife and pet crane. It was later sold, renamed "Riles Island," and used as a hunting retreat. Disney bought the island in 1965 as part of its secretive property acquisitions before building the Walt Disney World Resort.
The island opened as Treasure Island on April 8, 1974, as a place to observe wildlife, and was later renamed Discovery Island when it was recognized as a zoological park. It closed to the public on April 8, 1999, but continued to operate until July 9, 1999, at which point all of its animals had been relocated to new homes at Disney's Animal Kingdom (whose Safari Village hub area was renamed Discovery Island) and other zoos.
After its closing, Disney considered teaming up with the makers of the Myst video game to create a cutting-edge interactive experience to be called "Myst Island". Guests to the island would explore unusual locations and unravel a mystery about the island's previous inhabitants. However, development of this attraction never got beyond the concept stage.
The island's facilities were the home of the last known dusky seaside sparrow before it died in 1987. The species was declared extinct in 1990. The island remains closed to the public. It can easily be seen from Disney's Contemporary Resort and from Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, as well as from boat trips between them. The island is adjacent to Disney's River Country water park, which is also closed.
On April 23, 2010, Orlando NBC affiliate television station WESH reported that urban explorer and blogger Shane Pérez secretly visited the abandoned island, and the station broadcast some of the video images Pérez claims to have captured. Pérez told news reporters that he and several friends swam to the island under cover of darkness. During their visit they reportedly discovered "abandoned buildings, cages, preserved snakes in jars, even old employee photos". According to the television news story, Disney officials are considering banning Pérez for life from Disney properties. Since the 4-year Florida statute of limitations for trespassing has already expired, Pérez is not concerned about legal action.
- Trumpeter Springs - Trumpeter Swans
- Parrots Perch - The Discovery Island Bird Show, featuring macaws, cockatoos, and other trained birds.
- Bamboo Hollow - Lemurs from Madagascar.
- Cranes's Roost - Demoiselle Cranes
- Avian Way - The United States' most extensive breeding colony of Scarlet Ibis
- Pelican Bay - Brown Pelicans
- Flamingo Lagoon - Flamingos
- Tortoise Beach - Five Galapagos tortoises
- Admission cost in 1995 was $10.07 for adults and $5.57 for children aged three through nine.
- There was a beach where no swimming was allowed, but playing and walking in sand was permitted.
- "Discovery Island: The Early Years". Retrieved 2009-12-17.
- "Did Disney World visitors "Myst" out on an amazing new interactive attraction?". Retrieved 2012-09-01.
- "Blogger Rediscovers Closed Disney Attraction". Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- "Discovery Island". Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Wendy Lefkon, ed. (1995). Birnbaum's Walt Disney World. Hyperion and Hearst. pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-7868-8040-6.