Today in Disney History

Walt Disney World:  May 20, 1973
Tom Sawyer Island,  the Tom Sawyer Rafts, the Plaza Swan Boats, and the Richard F. Irvine (WDW’s second Liberty Square Riverboat) all debut at the Magic Kingdom. 
 
Like it’s predecessor at Disneyland, Tom Sawyer Island is a large outdoor play area inspired by the
famous works of author Mark Twain, located in the middle of the Rivers of America.  It features Injun Joe’s Cave, Magnetic Mystery Mine and old Fort Sam Clemens. The only way to and from the island are the Tom Sawyer Rafts, over in Frontierland.  
 
The Plaza Swan Boats , located in the moat surrounding the Central Plaza or “Hub”, are powered by natural gas engines, and are designed to run with an electric guidance system.  (Unfortunately the guidance system fails early on in the attraction’s life span and gives way to a new steering mechanism – two jets of water below the hull (one in front, one in back) that can swivel 360 degrees and move the boat in any direction. Thanks to slow loading and very low capacity, the attraction closed in August 1983.) 
 
The Richard F. Irvine is so named for Dick F. Irvine, a set designer who began working at the Disney Studios in 1942.  In 1953 he was asked to join the Disneyland team as an early “Imagineer.”  Guests board the riverboat and traverse the Rivers of America from Liberty Square. (The Richard F. Irvine will later be completely refurbished and renamed in 1996 as the Liberty Belle Riverboat).
 
 
Walt Disney World:  May 20, 1996
Fantasia Gardens opens.  It is located between the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels, and is a 36-hole minature golf adventure.  Fantasia Gardens features two distinct golfing adventures – Fantasia Gardens – an 18-hole course themed to Walt Disney’s 1940 classic animated film, “Fantasia”, and Fantasia Fairways – an 18-hole “challenge” course designed with strategically placed bunkers and hazards

One thought to “Today in Disney History”

  1. “Challenge course” is an understatement. I was just about ready to quit the game of golf forever after trying the Fairways course. It was like trying to putt off a table and stop the ball halfway down the leg.

    We stuck with the Gardens course after that.

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