08 June 2012

Connecting Pleasure Island with the mainland

These train car ticket booths don’t get much use these days, but they were once the gateway to the land of New Years’ Eve every night, Pleasure Island. Train cars may seem like an out of place element in a nightclub district, but there is so much more to their story.

As the tale of Pleasure Island is told, Merriweather Pleasure found this island in Florida and made it his home and campus for a variety of projects. Among these projects were an Adventurers Club, canvas factory, communications facility for interacting with potential unidentified flying objects, fireworks laboratory, machine shops, music parlors, and many others. With such a bevy of activity taking place on the island, it is safe to assume that trains, as well as air and watercraft, were utilized to get supplies and finished products on and off the island.

Of course, the true story of the train cars is just as fascinating. From 1973 through 1977, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground had its own internal train. It could pick up guests and transport them from the Depot area, home to registration and parking for the campground, back to the shores of Bay Lake and the Settlement region. The railroad contended with an overwhelming number of problems and, after a few short years, it was sent to the roundhouse for good.

The engines and passenger cars were remanded to one of Walt Disney World’s boneyards where there only protection from the harsh sun and brutal rains of Florida were a few tarps. When Pleasure Island began welcoming guests in 1989, it was realized that the train cars could be refurbished and put back into use as ticket booths. This pair of train cars were used only temporarily, however, and were once again bound for the boneyard when these permanent structures, designed to look like passenger cars, were built.

The long and storied history of trains and Walt Disney World, and the Disney name as a whole really, is ever-evolving. They may sit unused now, but the train ticket booths of Pleasure Island are steeped in lore and woven into the fascinating history of Walt Disney World.

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