A Modern Day Look at Walt Disney World’s (Abandoned) Discovery Island

Between 1974 and 1999, Discovery Island was an island (duh!) that was open as a hard ticket attraction in Walt Disney World’s Bay Lake, located roughly between the Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness. The highlight of the island was that guests could observe its many species of animals and birds.  After 25 years of success, it closed to guests shortly after Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened and, a few months later, was virtually abandoned after all the resident animals has been transferred to Animal Kingdom.

I visited Discovery Island as a kid in the 1970s. My memories of it are pretty vague,
partially because it was more years ago than I care to think about, but also because, well,

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Earn up to 4x Chase Ultimate Rewards at Disney Theme Parks

Visiting a Disney theme park is expensive. There aren’t many discounts available so you want to try to maximize the amount of points you get back on the money you’re going to be spending anyway. I was at Disneyland yesterday and was reminded of an easy way to get extra points. I’m really mad at myself that I didn’t think of it right away.

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The Hotels Near WDW You Can Stay In With Your Marriott Credit Card Free Night

Several hotel credit cards give you a free night at one of their establishments every year when you pay the annual fee. The cool thing is this free night benefit is often is worth more than the cost of keeping the credit card, doesn’t require you to spend a certain amount of money on the card, and doesn’t require you to have any points in your account. It’s simply a totally a free night, including tax.

It makes sense to try to get the most value out of the free night and I’ve read articles listing the places around the world where you can get the most expensive room. I decided instead of that approach, I’d look at a place many people travel to each year. Walt Disney World (WDW). If you can stretch your vacation one more day by using a free night, that could be very valuable to you and your family.

Here are the Marriott hotels in the WDW area where you can use your free night:

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Renting Wheelchairs, ECV Scooters & Strollers When You’re Visiting WDW

If you’re going to Walt Disney World and a member of your party is going to need a stroller, wheelchair or EVC/scooter, there are lots of options that range from renting from WDW to renting from an outside source and, in the case of the stroller (although I suppose you could do it with the wheelchair or EVC), buying one. Here’s a breakdown of all the options:

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Hurricane Prep (& Aftermath) In A Theme Park Town (& a visit from Kristen Bell/Frozen’s “Anna!”)

We moved to Florida in the year 2000 and to Orlando in 2002. Hurricane Irma was our second “really big” hurricane, after the 1-2-3 punch of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004. When it comes to hurricane prep, Orlando itself (theme parks excluded) has very few differences with other mid-sized cities – the supermarkets, drug stores, home supply shops and gas stations are inundated with people try to get supplies to either ride out the storm or to prepare their homes before they evacuate.

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#TBT: Japan April 2005: One More Day at Tokyo Disney Sea

Woke up 8am and finished our last-minute (high speed) internet and packing. It was very overcast, so no view of Mt. Fuji today.

I had been promised Starbucks and was going to hold the guys to their promise . I had asked for directions from the concierge a day or two before and after finding the place (an adventure in itself…at first all we saw were steps and we wanted either an escalator or an elevator. I eventually found the escalators…but not after Joe and Steve took the ramp into a dental facility’s elevator), I was satiated with “good” coffee.

We did the reverse trip that we had taken last Friday, taking 3 trains back to TDL (we’ve been teasing Joe all trip about his continuous use of maps, even nicknaming him “Magellan,” but the truth of the matter was that he did a terrific job of getting us from city to city without getting lost even once). We had seen on the Japanese news stations that there had been a major train accident somewhere, but since we didn’t understand Japanese, we didn’t know the details. Our trains were all on time and the only indication of problems was written information that 3 train lines were “delayed” because of “accident.”

We arrived at Maihama Station without incident and made use of the advance check-in at Ikspiari, which was within walking distance to the station. We were able to get our monorail and park passes there, plus drop our luggage off with them, so we didn’t have to drag it with us all the way to the hotel. I made the mistake of saying “yes” when they asked me if there was anything fragile or valuable in my luggage…I had my laptop in my wheeled bag so I wouldn’t have to carry it in my backpack and they said they couldn’t be responsible for equipment like that…so the computer wound up in my backpack after all. Grrr…..

Free of luggage (except for the laptop), we went to the Bon Voyage gift shop, also right by the station, to pick up the souvenirs we saw on Friday but hadn’t wanted to drag with us to Tokyo.

Took the monorail to Miracosta and checked in. Although our room wasn’t ready yet, we were able to upgrade our room to a better view of Port Paradiso (that’s the best view they have…we wanted to go out in style ) and made arrangements for shuttle pickup to Narita airport for tomorrow.

After checking in, we went into TDS through the front entrance…we had never done it last week because we always took advantage of the park entrance within the hotel. As we entered, I found a locker for my laptop while Joe got his one roll of Advantix film developed (Note: I am finishing this entry up on the plane between Narita and Chicago and as of this writing, Joe and I taken 1,780 digital pictures and Steve has 2,626 under his belt…and both cameras have a few more pictures to be downloaded yet. That includes “let me take it a second time just in case” shots and the ones that, if they were on paper, would be burned).

After entering the park, Joe bought a TDS watch and while he was waiting 10-20 minutes for them to remove a link, we went on the Great Search For The Mayor of Porto Paradiso. We are friendly with someone who was the Mayor for several months in 2001-2002 and so we REALLY wanted to find the Mayor. The last 2 days we had been in TDS, there was no Mayor to be found, at least not where and when we looked. Joe had tried to ask Guest Services about the Mayor back on Wednesday, but they didn’t seem to know much about him. Today I finally saw a group of some non-Asian performers so I asked them about the Mayor…the recommended asking their Stage Manager…who said he would still be out at 2pm, 3:10pm and 4:10pm…it was about 2:15pm by them, so we started looking where she pointed. And FINALLY we found him. We took a pic and, strangely enough, felt like we had accomplished something.

At this point, we split up with Steve to do our own thing.

After Joe picked up his watch, we went on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea again (twice, actually), because I wanted to videotape it with Night Shot (I’m back to my old habits of taping just about everything…I think I have 14 hours of videotape logged for this vacation).

Joe was getting hungry so we stopped off for lunch at Vulcania Restaurant, which is near 20K. The buffeteria-style restaurant was as well-themed as the rest of the Mysterious Island land, and had the best Chinese food we had had all trip (yes. Chinese food in Japan).

We next saw the “Sail Away” show by the Columbia steamship. The entire show, (including the American songs like “By The Beautiful Sea”) was in Japanese, including the speaking roles by the non-Asian performers. It was very colorful and the music was moderately entertaining but I have no idea of the plot.

We met up with Steve at 4, got my computer out of the locker, went back to the hotel front desk and found out our room was ready. It took Bell Services 10 min to find all our stuff (some left here from last week, some left with Welcome Center that morning and some left with Bell Services after we went to Bon Voyage) and another 10 minutes to try to load it onto the bellman’s cart.

Our room, #4301, was a mirror image of our last Miracosta room, but with a couch instead of a bench and a table instead of a desk. Our view though, was awesome…we were just a few rooms away from the center of the building, looking over Porto Paradiso and the Mediterranean Harbor.

While in the room, we unpacked what we needed through the next morning and started re-packing to get ready to go home. Steve was still waiting for his battery to recharge so Joe and I went to the park. We went on the 3 best E-Ticket rides again (Indiana Jones, 20K and Journey to the Center of the Earth), then staked out our spots for BraviSEAmo.


BraviSEAmo had been down for rehab for the past 2 weeks and, in fact, we had come back to TDS this one day specifically to see it, since it was still not in operation last week. It was held on the water of Mediterranean Harbor and it was our understanding that it was the TDL version of Fantasmic (a nighttime water show). Joe asked a CM where was the “ichiban #1” place to see the show and she directed him to an area on the western side of the water, where about 2 dozen people were already sitting. We took our spots and waited the hour or so until the show. The show finally began with Mickey on a mythological-looking water cruiser, speaking to the audience (in Japanese), all around the harbor. And everything else was VERY Japanese. No narration…just fountains and some small fireworks, a big barge with a big person-shaped “god” made out of water (torso and head were simplified shapes and limbs were streaming, shooting water) and a spider/dragon shaped red thing that spewed fire balls out of its several “arms.” I think they had a fight or maybe they equaled each other out or maybe the water won…I dunno. The audience appeared enthralled. We were very “WTF?” Again, a time where we lost something because of the cultural differences. We taped it from “our spot” and Steve taped it from our room. Maybe we’ll understand it more when we watch the tapes. I doubt it though.

After BraviSEAmo, Joe and I went to Zambini Brothers Ristorante for dinner. Italian this time…I had rigatoni with meat sauce and Joe had gnocchis (we were amazed that the cashier could pronounce “gnocchis” better than most Floridians do…I grew up in an Italian neighborhood…they are NOT “guh-NAH-chees”…they are “NYOH-kees” ). Again, very good food. This restaurant has its own private label of real Italian wine, which includes a medallion and ribbon that commemorates TDS…we thought about buying one but decided it wasn’t worth $38/bottle.

Went on JTTCOTE one last time while we could, then headed back to the room to pack, when the park closed. I was POSITIVE we were going to have to use a shopping bag for some of our stuff but Joe is an excellent packer and between the 2 of us, we managed to get everything into 4 checked bags, 2 carry-ons and 2 personal bags.

Went to bed around midnight or so…and then Steve’s cell phone rang around 4:30am. Steve is computer programmer for an insurance company and is on call 24/7, even when he is on vacation. They apparently had a problem with a program so they called him. He and Joe got the laptop set up so he could fix the problem remotely, then all was quiet again.

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TWO Disney Cruise Contests – Part 2



The Summer Nights Sweepstakes is sponsored by the Hallmark Channel, where they, “invite you to enter for the chance to win a full and relaxing Disney Cruise Line family vacation to The Bahamas to create magical summer memories!”
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