Discovery Island (Bay Lake)

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This article is about the island and now closed attraction in Bay Lake. For the attraction with the same name also in Walt Disney World, see Discovery Island (Disney's Animal Kingdom). For other islands named Discovery Island, see Discovery Island.
Discovery Island
The Wreck of the Walrus on Discovery Island.
Location Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, U.S.
Coordinates 28°24′52″N 81°34′01″W / 28.41444°N 81.56694°W / 28.41444; -81.56694Coordinates: 28°24′52″N 81°34′01″W / 28.41444°N 81.56694°W / 28.41444; -81.56694
Theme Animal observation
Owner The Walt Disney Company
Operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Opened April 8, 1974 (1974-04-08)
Closed April 8, 1999 (1999-04-08)
Previous names Treasure Island, Raz Island
Area 11.5 acres (4.7 ha)
Status SBNO

Discovery Island is an 11.5 acres (4.7 ha) island in Bay Lake in Orange County, Florida. It is located on the property of Walt Disney World in the city of Bay Lake. Between 1974 and 1999, the island was open to guests, where they could observe the island's many species of animals and birds. Disney originally named it Treasure Island, and later, Discovery Island. The island currently sits abandoned, and Discovery Island is now the name of a land at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.


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 strategic property acquisitions before building the Walt Disney World Resort.[1]

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.[2]

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 closed after the September 11th attacks in November 2001. Uncertainties and a lack of general information about the island has led to speculation that the island was shut down due to the amoeba species Naegleria fowleri being found in the water park.[3]

Visit to Discovery Island[edit]

Sometime in the 2000s photographer Shane Perez, along with his friends, swam to Discovery Island to explore what had been left behind. Since the island had not been maintained since its abandonment, overgrown paths, a lack of light, and spider webs made the island hard to traverse. Other discoveries included snakes preserved in containers, employee photos, paperwork and much more.


General information[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]


  • Wendy Lefkon, ed. (1995). Birnbaum's Walt Disney World. Hyperion and Hearst. pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-7868-8040-6.