In the early days of Walt Disney World, the area contained what was called a STOLport. A STOLport is an airport with Short-Takeoff and Landing operations in mind. This means that only very small planes could use the STOLport. Travel and transportation types, in the later 60s, envisioned STOLports as a way to transport people cross-town and elevate car and bus traffic congestion.
Well, then, why did Walt Disney World have a STOLport. Orlando wasn’t very big at the time. It had no cross-town car traffic congestion to ease. No, it didn’t. But Orlando also didn’t have a major airport. When Walt Disney World opened, what we now know as Orlando International Airport was still the Orlando JetPort at McCoy. It was a civil-military joint operation as it shared the ground with McCoy Air Force Base.
Walt Disney World’s plans were to use the Walt Disney World STOLport as a base to transport guests to the major airports around Orlando. There were two airlines which used the STOLport: Executive Airlines and Shawnee Airlines. Executive Airlines did not last very long and Shawnee Airlines tried to pick up most of the slack.
Shawnee Airlines was able to keep operations going for about another year (1973) before it stopped service from the STOLport as well.
What put these airlines and the STOLport “out-of-business?” A number of factors:
The oil embargo of the early 70’s made flying very expensive
The Walt Disney World STOLport only had room for four planes and had no covered hangers. This meant the planes were always exposed to the elements even in severe weather.
As attendance at Walt Disney World grew, more and more airlines starting flying into the Orlando JetPort at McCoy and eventually become Orlando International Airport (MCO – McCoy).
The expansion of the monorail to EPCOT made it almost impossible to fly into the STOLport – a sudden downdraft could easily push a plane on approach into the monorail track.
The STOLport is used today as a staging area for buses, construction equipment and other storage. If you look closely enough, you can probably see it as you ride the monorail to and from EPCOT.
Thanks for joining me on another Tiggerific Trivia Tuesday.
When my wife and I were walking back from EPCOT to Yacht Club, last week, she asked me a very interesting question. Why is the concrete at Walt Disney World not all white or black-topped?
I thought about this for minute and the best answer I could come with was that white concrete would be too bright and reflect too much sunlight. This would lead to many sunburned legs and the need for sunglasses through the parks. Black-topped pavement would be too hot and melt in the Florida Sun. And given that temperatures got above 100 on both Saturday and Sunday during our stay, this is a distinct possibility. Reddish-tinted concrete would not be as hot as black-topped pavement and is dull enough that it wouldn’t reflect light.
My logic seemed sound until I returned home and researched the answer further this afternoon. The concrete is colored because it provides more vivid colors for photographs when light reflects off the colored concrete compared to plain concrete. In the planning stages of the park, Kodak and Disney studied which shades of concrete provide the best colors for pictures. This is best seen in the Magic Kingdom where each land has a different concrete color which defines where one land ends and new land begins.
Back in 2009, Walt Disney World held a competition for the rights to become Walt Disney World’s sister city. As expected, there were a lot of entries and field was narrowed down to 25 finalists. From those 25 finalists, the winning city was:
Swindon in England. Swindon is known for two things. It’s soccer team: Swindon Town FC and The Magic Roundabout (seen above).
The Magic Roundabout is at the intersection of five roads and has a central hub and five smaller roundabouts leading to the five roads. Very similar to the Magic Kingdom.
Not sure if The Magic Roundabout was the factor that put Swindon over the top and become the winner but the similarities between The Magic Roundabout and the Hub design of the Magic Kingdom are very similar.
It’s A Small World celebrated its 50th anniversary, this year, back in April. It is an attraction that can be seen in five Disney theme parks and known through the world as a ride which attempts to bring cultures together. It’s design back in the 1960’s is still being felt in today’s modern theme parks. It is the focus of this week’s Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia link-up hosted by three wonderful bloggers: Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Mike from My Dreams of Disney, and Heidi from Heidi’s Head.
It’s A Small World made its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. It was one of four attractions built by the Walt Disney Studios and WED Enterprises. The attraction features two things which will still see in theme park rides and attractions through the world today.
First concept is the attraction’s “omni-mover” capabilities. The attraction, at the World’s Fair, cost 60 cents for children and 95 cents for adults with all proceeds going to UNICEF (the attraction’s sponsor). The attraction’s “omni-mover” design move a lot of people through the attraction per hour and per day. Walt Disney was so impressed the “omni-mover” that construction was stopped on The Pirates of Caribbean at Disneyland so the ride could be converted into an “omni-mover” attraction. The original design of Pirates was to be an under ground walk-through attraction.
The second concept is the ride ended with guests going out into a gift shop. UNICEF was the sponsor of the attraction at the World’s Fair and also sponsored the gift shop when guests were let out into after their boat ride. Walt Disney was amazed at how long guests lingered to look around the gift shop and the UNICEF displays. Once Disney secured Mattel to sponsor the attraction at Disneyland, a gift shop was constructed. Now, many theme park attractions end with guests going into a gift shop or other type of display before returning to the park.
Welcome to Tiggerific Trivia Tuesday hosted by three wonderful bloggers: Jodi at Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Mike at My Dreams of Disney, and Heidi at Heidi’s Head. It’s a link-up that allows bloggers to share Disney trivia with their readers. Some like to focus on Disney movies, others focus on Disney parks in general. I like to focus on Disney attractions. In past weeks, I’ve found little known nuggets of information at The Haunted Mansion and Spaceship Earth. This week, I’m focusing on another iconic Disney attraction….Space Mountain.
Everyone knows that Space Mountain is one of the first completely enclosed roller coasters. But, did you know that Space Mountain is the only Disney World attraction located outside the Walt Disney World Railroad loop. Original plans had Space Mountain located where the Carousel of Progress is located. Disney did not want to close the Carousel of Progress so Space Mountain was placed in its current location.
Guests enter the queue for Space Mountain on the theme park side of the railroad tracks. Then, the queue takes guests underground and through the interactive queue. This takes the guests to the resort side of the railroad tracks. Upon completion of the attraction, guests goes through the same tunnel are returned to the Space Mountain gift shop and to the theme park side of the railroad tracks.
Thanks for joining me for this week’s Tiggerific Trivia Tuesday. I’ll be back next week with another trivia tidbit.