bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

FYI - Fort Wilderness Campgrounds Comfort Stations

A lot of folks would never consider camping at WDW, othere would consider it but perhaps the thought makes them nervous, well the best way to arm yourself against nervousness is with information, and there are some great resourced devoted to WDW's campgound including the Venerable FORT WILDERNESS - FAQ maintained by Jeff Spencer, If you really want to learn about the campground THAT is the place to go. Recently I heard a discussion on the Disney Dudes podcast that touched on the campground that let to the writing of the post below.

Hey Dudes,
You were talking about Fort Wilderness (and the guy who took a window A/C for his tent) and I thought I'd throw in a bit of information here. One of the thing that rises the Fort Wilderness campground to a level of civilization above many camping experiences are the "comfort Stations" There is one for each campground loop and they are extremely clean and well kept.


The comfort stations also have some information all campground guests can use:



The Laundry rooms are also located there:


Here is the view to your left from the entrance into the mens room side:



now imagine you've walked over to the stalls and are looking back out:


looking back at the entrance door:

Now if you had looked straight ahead instead of to the left when you came in:


walk down that hallway an then looking to the left you will see another short hall with three shower stalls on the left, and a bench to your right:



a shower stall looks pretty much like a shower stall, thought I remember liking the shower heads and water pressure when I stayed at the Fort some years ago.


The comfort stations are renovated every few years and there is tile throughout, including the floors:

I hope if you are considering staying at the Fort Wilderness Campground this information make you more COMFORTable with that decision.
bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The WDW's Navys OTHER fleet, the Sassagoula Steamboat Company

Back to the world of blogging after a long hiatus! in fact a lot of my typical internet/mousing it up activities slowed down quite a bit in January, now I'm getting caught back up and the urge to blog has returned, in part because I've been starting to podcast more, but not on the "Mousin it up!"/bbdp feed. I took Tom Corless up on his offer to let me host the "Your Ear to the World" podcast, and have actually put out an episode a week for going on four weeks, and part of the inspiration for this post came from the latest episode Your Ear To the World 26 - Captain Lisa and the Jazz Lady.


The desire to take a trip on the Sassagoula had been growing for some time as over the years I've covered many of the other "fleets" in WDW's navy on the WDW: A History in Postcards section of the site as well as in this blog.  Disney's watercraft is a subject that has brought be more feedback than almost any other facet of the resorts history that I have covered. During Mousefest, I was happy to have the opportunity to take a cruise on the Sassagoula after attending a party some friends had held in thier unit at Old Key West, and while heading to Downtown Disney to catch Nova Era a group that many moons ago used to play in the Italy pavilion of Epcots World Showcase.


I suspected that with it already being dark I might not learn all that much about the ships or get many good photos, but luck was on my side. As I walked up to the dock and took a few pictures of the ship that awaited, The Jazz Lady, my skipper for the trip approached and both offered to take my photo and struck up a conversation with me, what was even better was the fact that she seemed to have quite an appreciation for WDW herself, and tried to be as helpful as possible in trying to help me get all the names of the ships of the Sassagoula Steamboat company.


Now despite the fact that she had trouble remembering the names,by the end of the cruise she had come up with 14 of them, which is the same as the number of units in the fleet, she also passed on to me some other details below, now since she was a little unsure of some of the names this list is no "sure thing" but it's certainly more than I've seen anywhere else, the best I had seen before was a short list on the web site and I think it is possible that was a sort of attempt to capture what types of names the ships had, that might have been more to give the feel, than an actual recounting of exact proper names,  still I've given the list of which names are on his list that were not in Captain Lisas below.

These photos are the visual accompaniment to the podcast Your Ear To The World Episode 26.

Captain Lisa remembered 14 names,
Although I've assigned the list here a numerical order, I don't know what the actual order of launch was for all these vessels.

The oldest three ships on the Sassagoula river (in italics and underlined) are single hulled

1. Memphis Miss
2. Sassagoula Sunset
3. Louisiana Lady
4. Sassagoula Queen
5. Bayou Queen
6. Bayou Princess
7. The Azelea Bloom
8. Delta Lady
9. Jazz Lady
10. Florida Queen
11. Memphis Belle
12. Southern Breeze
13. Sassagoula Steamboat.
14. Florida Lady.

Names in bold are the ones I found on that don't match one's mentioned by Captain Lisa

Crescent City Queen
Saratoga Queen
Magnolia Blossom
Blossom Queen

UPDATE: A reply by Andre of the Port Orleans web site (in the comments below), let me know that these are all actual names read from nameplates of the various barges. So the task now is to figure out which of the names on Captain Lisa's list were wrong the first obvious possibility is Sassagoula Steamboat, she may have been reading something of a piece of paper looking for names and I mistakenly assumed it WAS a name. Next candidate Bayou Queen , immediately after she said that name she said Bayou Princess, so perhaps she was correcting herself. Next up I'm wondering if either of the two ships with "Florida" in the name was a "correction" of one previously given incorrectly as well, same goes for the two "Memphis" ships.  I would imagine that the Saratoga Queen that Andre mentions is one of the newer ships in the fleet being that Saratoga Springs has not been open all that long.

The DVC lines tend to get the newer ships like the one I rode, the Jazz lady.

I've heard that with the addition of the Treehouse villas to Saratoga Springs there will be an additional dock added. There should be one more name on this list if they purchased the next vessel in the fleet that they were planning on, that gets mentioned in the audio.


I'd love to hear about any corrections to this list, and other bits of history for this fleet,

were all of these ships purchased just for this fleet, or were any of the earliest ships transferred here from elsewhere on property?

Are these fourteen the only ships that ever sailed this route, or are their some "retired" ships?

Have any of these ships be re-christened? if so what was their name previously?

How has the fleet size changed over the years, and at what poits did thay add "ports" for instance was Old Key west addded immmediatly when it was built, if so how many ships were added at that time? Did the old Disney village get service by these ships?

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Funny, they don't look toxic to me... the Voiceovers

Recently while going through old WDW photos on Facebook  ( if you're on Facebook look for me Brian Martsolf ) I ran across a photo of a singer that rang a bell with me, this sent me on a hunt through my own photos first in the October 2002 trip (the honeymoon trip for my wife and I)

I found a photo on this page of this singer from American Vybe on the following page:

and then these photos from a much earlier trip, September 1998, ,

found on this page  .

I found a link to contact the woman singer (in the Red shirt with Vybe and in the Blue shirt  wth the group performing on New York Street in the Disney-MGM studios, and wrote her, the message you can see below:

Hi Michelle, I'm a long time fan of the Disney Theme parks, and as I've been fortunate enough to go repeated times over the years I enjoy catching the musical groups, I saw a photo of you with American Vybe, and so thought you might like seeing a few I have taken on my WDW trips that I think have you in them, some are on this page:

also did you ever sing in a group at the Disney-MGM studios back on New York street? If so there are a few that look like it MIGHT be you in them on this page:

I also have some audio of Vybe in an episode of my podcast that can be found on my site at:

if you listen to it bear in mind that the audio in it is from two different recording session, one I did in 2002 that corresponds to the pictures on the first page I sent you a link to, and another set recorded by my buddy Lou Oms of the WDW-memories podcast, and his was MUCH earlier.

In fact here's a "track list" that breaks it down:
* It Don't Mean A Thing if It Aint got That Swing (recorded by Brian oct. 2002)
* Seasons of Love (recorded by WDW Friend/Lou Dec. of 98 or 99)
* 60's medley (recorded by WDW Friend/Lou Dec. of 98 or 99)
* Rosie (recorded by Brian oct. 2002)
* Just A Giggalo (recorded by Brian oct. 2002)
* His Eye is on the Sparrow (recorded by Brian oct. 2002)
* Lean on Me (recorded by Brian oct. 2002)
* Ridin the Chariot (recorded by WDW Friend/Lou Dec. of 98 or 99)

Michelle replied:
I am so thankful for you and all these awesome pics! I saw them all and you are correct. I was in the "voiceovers" back at MGM in 1998. That group is pretty much still together- known as Toxic Audio- and we have 2 shows up in Sanford Florida Dec 26 and 27 this year. OH, I guess you know that already
regardless...thanks a million


I actually hadn't put it all together yet at that point (though all the parts were there, and I now remember enough other refereances that I had heard to the group over the years that I should have) so I  replied :

Very Cool I have heard of Toxic Audio from a couple of other WDW folks who are fans of your group, notably Earl of the "Trapped on Vacation" podcast, he is a big fan of your group. I saw that your profile listed your affiliation with Toxic Audio, but I did not realize that the group at the studios was basically an "on WDW property" version of that same group, thanks for the information that is neat to find out, and thanks for the link to the Toxic Audio site, I'm going to check it out now.

After checking out their site I investigated a bit more, I found a podcast by someone involved with the group that gave me a feeling for thier music, and this eventually culminated in the purchase of one of thier CDs from

Over the recent holidays I finally got the time to listen to it, and so when I noticed the notice in my email box asking how I liked it I wrote the following review:

This was my first purchase of one of Toxic
Audios albums, though I had heard of them a good while back thanks to Earl of the Trapped on Vacation podcast, since then I've learned of a podcast ran by their sound guy (if I understood it correctly), and got to sample a bit more of there work there, somewhere along the line I saw photos of one of these folks and it rang a bell, I went back through my old WDW trip photos and found photos of one of the members of the group singing with American Vybe, and a photo of an early incarnation of Toxic Audio singing on New York Street in the Disney-MGM studios, finally that got me to break down and spend a little  bit of my hard earned cash on one of thier CD's I always have lots of CD's and books related to Walt Disney World on my "wish list" and sometimes it takes a while (or events like these discoveries I mentioned above) for items to move up my list but I'm sure glad this one finally surfaced, and it likely won't be all that long before my next purchase of one of their CD's as even as vocal music (which I enjoy) goes these guys rank WAY up there!

Looking at  the  photos in the CD case (does the term liner notes apply to CDs?) I noticed that another of the faces in the group was also very familiar, from the same Honeymoon trip in 2002 as the photo of Michelle with American Vybe, the same afternoon in Epcot, and even from the same pavilion, and singing for a music group...but NOT American Vybe, yep a Voice of Liberty who is also a member of Toxic Audio

This fellow had already made quite an impression on me on that 2002 trip because we saw him perform with Four for a Dollar at the studios a on the same trip, and on whichever set was the later one we remembered him from the first, it's neat to see talented folks like this playing a variety of roles like this, but rarely do you get to see them in TWO different roles on the same trip ! Unfortuantly I didn't get a photo of him with Four for a Dollar because that was a "film camera" trip and we were running low at the end of the trip.

 here's his page from their site:

Having taken all these years to link these performers makes me wonder what else is out there in my photos.

I actually think someone may have mentioned the connection to the group at the studios to me at some point, but I don't see any referance to "toxic audio" in a search of my old emails, so perhaps it was right before one of those crashes most of us have from time to time where some data is lost.

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Postcard Collecting Questions

As the guy who has the site that people tend to find when they search the terms "Walt Disney World Postcard" I sometimes get questions about postcards here are a few I have answered recently:

Brian Homenick asked about the postcards with the DASH in the number, in answering him I assumed from the context of the question that he was referring to the Standard size postcards with a dash in the number other than the ones from postcard booklets (as I really had already covered the ones from the booklets printing dates on the site in the chapter on those cards)
Let me ask you, When do you think or if you know when the ( I call them "dash" cards) cards with the - in the middle of the number came out? Because I realized they might have been mixed with the non banner regular cards. Because there are (from what I've seen) 3 different versions of Treasure Island, that park was only open between 1974-1976 but the brown back non banner cards were also out during that time with out a dash.
The earliest "Dash" cards are from 1975 and unlike other black inked dash cards printed later they have the "small castle" or "outline castle" icon at the bottom of the card, it looks like some of these cards appeared with this back until 1977, but I think it might be likely that the cards with this back that still seem to be sold later were little bits of this old stock that was printed in 1975.

A FEW of these dash cards have this script letters "POST CARD" printing on the right hand half of the back, I think the few cases where this appears were mistakes, and I think that part of the reason that this mistake was made was the fact that the same printer who printed the "dash" numbered cards (Dexter Press) also printed the postcard BOOKLET cards which ALL had this script on the back, and I'm guessing some of the press employees used to printing those may have included that lettering out of habit.

Many cards from that 1975 group received a new printing in the very next year, 1976.

Note that not only is the ink blue but the castle icon at the bottom of the card is the "large castle" or "solid castle" icon, it's probably better to go with the "large" and "small" designations since this icon is not entirely solid (it has openings for doorways and windows that are un-inked)
and that could lead to confusion.
Many of these blue backed cards appear all the way up to 1979, perhaps just excess stock left over from the 76 and 77 printings.

In 1978 and on into the 1980's a SOME cards were printed with backs that have Green Ink on the backs the Green ink is dark in many cases it could almost pass for black, and I have one case where I think it is black but still include it with these green inked backs, I include it with them for the fact that it has many other things in common with these Green inked cards, you see these green inked cards have a copyright in the Lower right hand corner (indicated by red arrow in scan above) all other cards in the "dash" series have the copyright in the lower LEFT hand corner under the caption. Another differance between this and earlier cards is the inclusion of the Registered Trademark symbol "®" after the Walt Disney World logo (see image below, for a close up, even though it is from a later black inked card).

In 1979 some of the cards they went BACK to Black inked backs, BUT there is a difference between these and the earlier black inked backs they as these 78 versions had the"Large Castle" icon.

One ODD thing about these 1979 Black inked cards is that they did not yet have the registered Trademark symbol "®" after the Walt Disney World logo.
in 1980 that was rectified and for the remaining years of printing "standard size" (3½" x 5½" cards) they seem to all have that logo.

At 02:33 PM 12/16/2008, Albert Palazzola wrote:

I was looking at your site (WDW: A History in Postcards). Under Chapter 10 The Animation Gallery Page 2: More Scenes from the Screen, I saw the sketch of Goofy on skiies (the one of him fallen); it is the second to last drawing on the page. I have that exact postcard framed along with a Walt Disney 1968 6-cent stamp. What, in your opinion do you think this is worth? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Although this is a question about value (actually one of the most common types of questions I receive) my answer delved into a lot of other aspects and seems a natural to add here.

Hi Albert
        Valuing WDW postcards is always tough, if I find them anywhere other than Ebay they are almost always under  $5, even on Ebay where all bets are off I, might BID more than $20 for a card I want particularly badly, but I might get it for under $5 or I might get outbid, there are just not all that many serious WDW postcard collectors, or at least not as compared to Disneyland postcard collectors, and additionally, there are fewer WDW cards that had "short" print runs, for collectors like me who collect ALL variants of a card it  is a bit harder as there might be 2 or 3 backs for that card front you described. Sorry I can't give you a simple, firm answer. As for the 6¢ stamp is it on the card? or both mounted in the same frame but two separate items? It might not make much difference in the value.

As for the different backs I was talking about I'll use that Goofy card you have as an example the one I scanned was numbered as 00157-70114 the back has the animation galley logo over on the bottom left side, actually kind of an odd placement for a post card, but that is how all those early cards were first printed, in the early 1990's, when WDW went to having bar codes on all their postcards, many of the cards from this series were re-printed with the bar code in the stamp block, and a new logo, centered over the dividing line (a more typical logo placement). At first these cards bar coded cards had a logo that was a box with the words "Disney Galley images" in it, later, there was yet another printing with a logo that reads "The Art Of Disney" on it. For that Goofy card I don't have a bar coded version, though looking at the cards that do exist in both series I can make an estimate at what the bar code number would probably be if it does exist in a bar coded version. it would probably be 00159 20009 or 00159 20010 if it exists as a bar coded card at all.

 Below: although in the email I used the goofy card as an example I thought a better example of "backs vs fronts" would be a card I have in all three versions.

Do you have WDW postcard questions? If so,  you can always feel free to email me:

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Mousefest planning Spreadsheet -updated

I've added quite a few items to the Mousefest planning spreadsheet since I first posted about it, some of them are "informational only" as in they are there to remind me that these are possible things I could do at these times but I may or may not participate, for instance show times for Nova Era at DTD, other things have time conflicts but I'll try to find a way to work around them for instance a friend of mine is in a group that will be playing bells in the lobby of the Grand Floridian at 6PM and 7PM on Wednesday, well we have a 6PM reservation at Citricos I may try to see if I can push that back a little. Also I know i want to take in some live entertainment groups so where some of the meets are duplicate activities, with folks that I will be spending time with at other meets, I may choose between them for instance I have two meets schedules with the "Those darn Cats" crew on here and both of them are dupicates of some activities I also have listed with RADP (Mansion and Splash Mountain) i'm leaning towards doing Mansion with the cats crew, and Spalsh with RADP that will free up time Thursday Morning for Entertainment recording (when the cats will be doing Splash), and Sunday Afternoon while the RADP are doing mansion.

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Things I hope to see or wont see at Mousefest

Last week I made a post about the re-purposed Animal Kingdom ships that are now used on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay lake for fireworks cruises,

I mentioned it was something I'm looking forward to seeing, possibly as soon as Mousefest, but since I don't know how likely there are to be some of these out in the day it's hard to say if I will really see any of them, that said I won't be heartbroken if I don't see them there are similarly a LOT of things I HOPE to experience or see that I don't necessarily know if they will happen, but just by having so many of them I'm sure I'll see some of them,

Missing these things won't necessarily be a BAD thing, but seeing them could be a huge BONUS to my trip, because I know they are out there and if I see, and or photograph, video, or record (audio), it will be one more great thing to share when I get back!

Also, some things are so obvious that I would look forward to them I won't bother to list them here like the Toontown Tuners and the Voices of Liberty, also most things that I have on my Mousefest schedule I posted a while back are things I won't  list here unless additional explanation is needed as to WHY I'm looking forward to them.
  • The World Showcase Players doing "A Christmas Carol" not only do I want to see this because I have not seen it before but at least one former Adventurers Club cast member is in the WS players.
  • The Hat Lady, yes I enjoyed Leon Gregory as a piano player at the Rose and Crown Pub and was sorry to see him go, but I'd LOVE to see Carol there too, though if I happen to walk in on one of Pam Brody's two days a week  that would not be disappointing either.
  • Nova Era, this band had appeared in the Italy Pavilion several years back, but this holiday season they are performing at DTD , I'd LOVE to see them BUT it probably won't happen unless we were to "add a  day".
  • Gui-Tar-Dan at Camp Minnie mickey in Disney's Animal Kingdom, While I don't anticipate that this singers, guitar players act would be all that riveting because it's probably aimed squarely at keeping the kids entertained, it will be great to see Dean face to face as I really enjoyed his "Singing Cowboy" act at the Diamond Horseshoe, and I enjoy listening to the CD I bought of the Rusty Cutlass pirate band that  he performs with at some of the Hard ticketed parties in the Magic Kingdom
  • Rusty Cutlass themselves I would love to see them perform but I decided to pass of the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party this year.
  • The Tropicals, this steel drum based band plays at Disneys Animal Kingdom, I haven't seen them yet but I enjoyed their CD.
  • Beauty & the Beast stage show, not only have I not seen this show in several years, but the latest Gaston is a former Dapper Dan.
  • The Village Beatniks, yet another AK band I have yet to experience
  • The REAL Mor Thiam, as I noted in a blog post a while back the audio I used in my AK episodes of the drummer in Harambe in front of the Mombassa Marketplace, was the guy who fills in on Mor Thiam's days off, while the fellow I recorded was great I am rather embarrassed about miss-representing the material I used when I played it on my podcast, until I later learned the truth
  • The Boardwalk Entertainment, especially Musicale Mark (who also fills in on piano Man Jims days off at the MK) or the former juggler from the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show
  • Flights of Wonder, it's simply been several years since I saw this,and I don't necessarily see time in the schedule for it this trip.
There are many other little things I'd like to catch certain sets or songs by the Dapper Dans, Main Street Philharmonic, and the Spirit of America Fife and drum corps come to mind (The Disney Medley the dans do, Mary Poppins Medley the Philharmonic does,  and the sons and daughters of Liberty set the Fife and drum corps do )
bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

How To Subscribe to this blog

I enjoy technology, but I'm not always that adept with it. As in I can usually figure things out but sometimes it takes me a very long time to get around to doing that figuring. One such case has been in figuring out how to subscribe to a live journal blog via and RSS or ATOM feed. I was late in subscribing to blog feeds anyhow, I only discovered a while back while I was trying out Firefox that when I clicked on one of these feed links in a blog I like (usually represented by a little ICON) a bookmarking page would pop up, not only that but it would give me the option to subscribe to a blog in a way that would put that blog in a bookmark toolbar right up there on the top of my screen, then when I hover over that bookmark it will show me a list of posts in that blog with a different symbol fro READ posts than unread one, I REALLY like this part as it makes it VERY  easy to see at a glace which blog posts I have not yet read!

Though I have yet to figure out how to do this in MSIE, that will be a project for another day.

anyhow I recently figured out that I can do this On live Journal too, here are links you can click on to subscribe to this blog:

  • Atom:
  • RSS:
I'll see if I can find a way to add these as a permanent link off to one side or the other of this page if not I'll probably just add at the end of each article swords to the effect of , as always you can subscribe to this blog via the following links:
  • Atom:
  • RSS:
(and that's the end of this post!)

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The Friendships, the Epcot resort areas water taxis


While the attraction known as it’s a small world has been tagged with the description “the Happiest cruise that ever sailed”, perhaps the ships of WDW’s Epcot resort area and the World Showcase lagoon could bear the tag line “the Friendliest cruise that ever sailed”...

Original paint scheme Friendship III
Friendship III original paint scheme

...after all the name of the boats in this fleet are the Friendships, all bearing names with a Roman Numeral following them from Friendship I to Friendship VIII. Despite having almost identical names design and function they have a few Individual characteristics to tell them apart, first off the easiest way to tell them apart is the obvious one, if you are looking at the stern of the ships there is a huge nameplate with the name of the individual ship, also there is a much smaller inscription of the ships name on the "front hood" just below the base of the Windshield, but if you really want to be the ultimate Disney geek you can tell them apart even from a distance and from the side you may ask? well they each have their own Paint Scheme, all following the same pattern, but with a different set of colors for each ship the main body of all of the Friendships is white, they then have an accent color for the roof stripes, and a second accent color for the trim around the windows (this color also continues as stripes across the "front hood" of the ship), these two colors are then repeated as a pair of stripes around the boat, the upper wider stripe matches the roof color and the lower "pinstripe" matches the window trim. . Over the past few years I’ve taken a lot of photos of these ships and I’ve used these photos to make a list of these ships that identifies them each by their color scheme, it first appeared in my Mousefest 2006 trip report, a copy of that chart is further down the page. One thing that original chart does not take into account though is that the Friendships were only painted into these newer paint schemes in the mid 1990’s; before that instead of having the striped roofs that the friendships have today they had solid colored roofs, recently I got in contact with Greg Chin a former watercraft cast member who has a great web site about WDWs watercraft.

He was a cast member at the time most of the Friendships were being built and he shared with me some of his memories about them in some emails we exchanged, he also has a couple of pages about them on his site:

and, you can see some construction photos of them on this part of his site:

Excerpts from an expert

Below are some excerpts from some emails I exchanged with Greg that shed a lot of light onto many of these subjects for me.

Greg Chin in 1982

Here's a photo of me , and Chris Mohler, (Note from Brian, Gregs photo is above, Chris is not pictured here) taken on Friendship III (the Red one), when it was brand new, in late 1982.

We had just docked, and shut down 2 motor launches.

I saw that Friendship III was there. The new interior and helm console looked wonderful. And I noticed: there was no front AC column duct-work to block the forward view of the bow windows. They got it right, this time.

The watertaxi had recently been lowered into the water, during the noon hours. Since Chris and I were part of the 14 test-pilot crew, I wanted to get some photos of this one, before it was moved over to EPCOT.

I took photos with my 35mm Nikon FM camera, on the watertaxi, as it was docked, in Drydock. Chris and I snapped the photos, of each other, next to the helm console.

This watertaxi was never used in Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, for hauling passengers. After the trial runs were done quickly, it was taken out of the water again, placed on a large flatbed trailer, and taken over to the Epcot Drydock area, at night.

It was the only time I could have taken these historic photos of us, on the brand-new watertaxi. Friendship III was needed right away, over at the WSC Lagoon.

I should say that it was wonderful to see the first 2 watertaxis being built, in the Facilities - Main Bay area of the WDW Central Shops, during 1980 to 1981. Knowing that we, 14 test pilots would soon be getting the 2 boats, to do the trial runs, on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. That gave us a year to test everything and see how they performed.

I would go over to visit the Main Bay, in the Central Shops, and see how the construction was coming along. They built two watertaxis, at a time, with them arranged stern-to-stern.

The Main Bay has a large gantry crane overhead (on guide rails), since the crane was used to pick up the watertaxis, and put them on a flatbed trailer, and then moved over to Drydock, where the boats were painted. Then, their interiors were finished-out with their engines, generators, seating, and equipment.

The Drydock Mechanics are the qualified experts to install all the marine-gear equipment, so they get to do it. They also got to spray paint the watertaxis, using the very best catalyzed - poly-urethane acrylic enamel paint. It's tough spray paint!

I'll tell you, the watertaxis look totally different, once they are spray-painted in their white coat, and color schemes. Being made of 98% aluminum plating, they didn't require any primer coat, at all. The bottom hull is spray painted black. The boats rest on specially-made yellow jackstands, while they are out of the water, in the Drydock Bldg. area.

Original paint scheme Friendship I

oldfriendI-close (143K)

The watertaxi seats and interior beige paneling is made of vacuum-formed Kydex plastic sheeting. It's a tough industrial-strength, vacuum-formed, and thermal-setting plastic.
Once it's heated, and vacuum-formed, it sets, and cannot be re-heated or re-shaped again.
It's the same Kydex plastic that's used in the Mexico and Land pavilion boat rides.
I saw the vacuum-forming being done, during the Watertaxi construction. Also, for the interiors of Monorails Lime and Coral, in 1981.
All the beige interior pieces were then trimmed, and stacked on wooden pallets.
The blue seats were being molded and assembled for the watertaxis.
Green seats are used for the boat attraction seats. It has a nice textured finish on it.

Original paint scheme Friendship II

oldfriendII (45K)

Connecting the EPCOT Resorts to the WSC Lagoon:

For about 2 years, the half-completed hull of the 5th Watertaxi, sat back in WDW's Drydock area, wrapped-up with thick clear plastic coverings, to keep out the rain water. That was during the 1987 slow-down, and the need for them. For a while, the Omnibuses around the Lagoon, and the 4 watertaxis filled the immediate needs for guest transportation. Michael Eisner and Tishman Construction were deciding about the Swan and Dolphin Hotel Resort's ultimate design and location.
Once the decision to connect the EPCOT Resorts' "Half Moon Lagoon", to the WSC Lagoon was made (big changes on the WDW map), they went ahead and completed the 5th and 6th watertaxis. And planned on th 7th and 8th watertaxis, as well.
Thanks to the EPCOT theme park, and the EPCOT Resorts, Walt Disney World's watercraft fleet doubled in size,

Original Friendship Colors

Friendship name

Solid Roof Color and around windows

Accent stripe below windows, around bow

















LAVENDER (less certain)




As you can see from the chart above there are two color schemes not accounted for (and one with a discrepancy but more about that in a minute), In the photo below you can see the ship has a solid roof color but, UNLIKE the earlier Freindships that color DOES NOT continue down around the windows, in fact if the roof was striped Teal instead of solid it could pass for Friendship VI.


Greg also pointed out several small details that help distinguish the Friendships from each other than the paint schemes, in the photos in the first half of this article, look at the frames around the windows of Friendship I and II, you’ll see they are a silvery aluminum color, but on all of the later Friendships they have “black anodized aluminum window frames” though nowadays even I and II have changed over to that style also.

Later Changes
Another difference with I and II is that originally the ductwork for the A/C on
these two ships was more obtrusive, but in the later ships the ductwork was ran under the deck, I’m
not sure but I think I recall hearing that had changed on I and II, though if it has I don’t know
weather to think it happened in the mid 1990’s refurbishments that included the re-painting or when
the new A/C systems were installed on the roofs of the Friendships around 2004, that change led to
another thought not right away, in photos I took of the Friendships in late 2004, and late 2005 the
new A/C units were easily visible on the roofs of the ships (well in the 2004 photos it was on just
some of the ships), but by the time I returned in 2006 a new flange had been added around the perimeter
of the roof that is more aesthetically pleasing to view than the asymmetrically laid out A/C units.

Friendship I - 2000

It looks as if that duct work may still be blocking the view for guests in this year 2000 view, but look at he clean lines on the roof of the ship before scrolling down to the later photos.

Friendship I

Friendship IV - 2004

Friendship I – 2006
With the new flange around the roof perimeter, note also the curved windows on the front corners
Friendship I


Friendship name

Roof Stripe Color

Window Accent Color

























One final difference that Greg clued me into after he looked at some of my photos...

Also, on Watertaxis I thru V have a one-piece curved-plexiglass window, right next to the helm console.
Apparently Watertaxis VI, Vii, and VIII have an extra vertical window mullion in the same place, to eliminate the need to get specially molded/curved plexiglass window panes for that corner window.

Below is a photo of Friendship VII that shows the later type of window, compare this to the windows on Friendship I in the image above the chart, that one illustrates the earlier type pretty well.

     Before closing this out I want to thank Greg for his generous amounts of time he took in writing replys to me as well as the hours he has already poured into his wonderful site, Thanks Greg!

and for anyone out there who can fill in a few more of the blanks as to the original color schemes for Friendships VI VII and VIII, or other details we have not touched on here,  please feel free to email me

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

An Unusual Thing I’m looking forward to seeing at Mousefest


When speaking of things to look forward to at Mousefest first, a few obvious things come to mind, enjoying the attractions of Walt Disney world is something almost all of us look forward to on any trip, but at Mousefest you get to take that to another level, enjoying these attractions with lots of other fans who “get it” when it comes to Walt Disney World. Perhaps the most obvious when it comes to mousefest is meeting those folks we’ve met online and in the parks over the years, this is certainly a highlight of any Mousefest trip for me! But, I have a few odd things on my list that, in some cases will overlap with those of others, but in other cases may be less common. For instance since there are so many of us in the Disney Fan community who enjoy sharing our trip photos on our web sites and blogs a lot of us will enjoy taking pictures we can use for just that purpose, and I have many favorite photo subjects, I also learn about new things at the resort form time to time and want to go take pictures of those things when I arrive. I have a lot of pictures of things like the monorails and the ships at WDW, and while I’m always looking for a new good angle on these those can be hard to find, so when something changes a bit it really catches my attention, this year a few of the old Animal Kingdom Discovery Island River Cruise vessels have be moved to the Seven Seas Lagoon / Bay Lake  complex and are now being used for fireworks cruises, so I’m not sue how often they are seen out in the daylight but at least a couple of Disney fans caught views of them this year, in fact I first became aware of this change because of a photo by Jason, the Disneygeek of, and with his gracious permission I’m re using his photo here:







 additionally one of my online friends Denise often takes WDW photos and shares them on her site too , and I got permission to share her image too:





Now you may notice from their photos that the ships have been re-christened, at Disney’s animal Kingdom the ships were named the Darting Dragonfly, Otter Nonsense, Leaping Lizard, Crocodile Belle, Hasty Hippo, now the Darting Dragonfly was the one being used as a character barge so I would bet that it might still remain at DAK, and I’m not sure as to how many of the other ships have been moved and renamed, but I really like the “retro” names they have given these two vessels, you see MAGIC KINGDOM I, was the original name of the ferryboat now named the Admiral Joe Fowler, while MAGIC KINGDOM II, was the original name of the ferryboat Richard F Irvine, now of course when the Magic Kingdom opened the Admiral Joe Fowler was the name of the dual stacked Steam Engine in Frontierland that resembled the Mark Twain steamship at Disneyland, but after that ship was damaged and retired in the early 80s’s and its companion on the Rivers of America the Single Stack Richard F. Irvine, was rechristened the Liberty Belle in the mid 1990s it was decided to re-name the ferries in honor of these folks who had so much to do with the design and building of the Disney parks (more on each of these men, and General Joe Potter,  in some earlier posts on this blog)

. So naming these new fireworks viewing barges with these old names is a neat way to pay homage to the history of WDW itself. Only having those two photos does make me wonder, exactly how many of these barges got moved, and it there are additional ones what their names are, if there is only one more well than the next logical name would be the KINGDOM QUEEN since that was the original name of the General Joe Potter.


            Speaking of those ferryboats I think that I had heard they were not there on opening day before, but not any details. Recently I went over to check out a site I had known about for a while but had not checked back in on recently the WDW Watercraft pages at

After my visit I wrote the webmaster Greg Chin, a former Watercraft cast member of the from at least the early 1980’s (if not earlier), and even into the 90’s, he gave me a lot of information about the Friendships which I’ll put in a later post, but in regards to the ferries he let me know that they didn’t go into service until 1973 (and I believe that would have been just the first two as the KINGDOM QUEEN came later), in those first two years folks had to either take the monorail, or one of the lower capacity, and slower loading (as compared to the ferries) Side-Wheel ships, the Southern Seas and Ports O’ Call, accordingly those side-wheelers didn’t start their “WORLD CRUISE” service until 1973 when those ferries came on line . In addition to that back in those days there was another way for guests to get from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom in Gregs words:

“For years, the Watercraft Dept. and Parking Lot Dept. also manned the extra Trams from TTC side area, to the entrance of the MagicKingdom. Only if the crowd capacity warranted it, the extra Trams were put online. But we keep them warmed up, and idling during the busiest parts of the morning and night, in case they were needed.


Florida has a lot of dew, in the morning hours. It takes a while to go, and suddenly dry off any wet tram bench seating. We use a wide 12" or 16" squeegee and plenty of towels. Same thing on all of the Watercraft boats and Parking Lot trams, in the morning. Once the new MK Bus Depot, and expanded TTC Bus Depot were built in 1986, that problem finally went away.

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Postcard Discoveries - Finds on Flickr

Once in a while, as I look over the vast quantity of Disney materials on the internet I'll run into something I've not seen before, recently I saw some Disney World postcards I hadn't ever seen before on a flickr account, there were two different types of cards, and i certainly have seen cards of these types, but I hadn't seen these individual designs. They are all from the collection of a blogger who goes by the name of 9teen87, and her blog is at:

she uses her flickr account to host images of the postcards she uses on her blog:

I got her permission to use here images here too, she has three images from "suvey postcards" these cards are sent to guests after their trip and have an invitation to visit the Disney web site and enter a special number that takes you to a survey with questions, usually about the resort you just stayed at, and she has some really nifty ones of these, Since these are white cards and the edges can be hard to detect on a white background page, like this one, I've added a blue frame around each card. she's got one from The Grand Floridian, and she even included a bit of the text from the back of the card in the description:

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - We have selected a small, but significant, cross-section of our guests for an important survey. To complete the questionnaire, please log on to the Internet web site below and enter the password printed on this card. - postmarked in Jan. 2007

An unusual card that rather than bearing a hotel logo it bears a Walt Disney World logo, though the bit of text she put in the description hints at the reason, it's more of a contact follow up card:
Walt Disney World Resort - Thank you for recently contacting the Walt Disney World Resort - postmarked 2006

Lastly is one that is technically not a Walt Disney World Card but of enough interest to most folks who would read this site that I'll include it here, and it seems to be a bit of a different category as well a "thank You Card she describes as follows:

Disney thank you card for taking one of their cruises - which I highly recommend! - 2006 

She has many kinds of postcards in her Flicker account including a fair number of WDW cards that I have, but there is at least one other WDW post card she has that I do not and here is her description of  it:

At This Rate You'll Be Dancing in Your Sleep!!

Disney's All-Star Resorts

Just $59.00 Per Night Puts You in the Middle of the Magic!

It's a dream rate at Disney's All-Star Sports and All-Star Music Resorts and it's available most nights between August 22 - September 30, 1999.

This advertising postcard was machine stamped 'Bulk Rate' in 1999

Once again Much Thanks to flickr user:

and visit her blog: