Who doesn’t love a trip to Disney World? The food, the smells, the shows, the music, it is the happiest place on Earth, after all. And while we’ve heard all kinds of things about Disney Parks from the smells they pump into the air, to the colors they paint the doors, this little tidbit is one of the far more interesting facts we’ve heard. Let’s dive into Disney World’s (forbidden) Discovery Island.
If you look at an official map of Disney World, you’ll notice that floating in the middle of Bay Lake, is a green mass known as Discovery Island. And while you may be tempted to visit this island, that voyage is forbidden. Not even as a Disney World guest, not even as a Disney World employee. And it’s been that way since 1999.
Discovery Island opened in 1974 and was originally known as Treasure Island, named after the film, and was pirate-themed; but by 1976 the vibes changed (along with the name) and Discovery Island, as it was now known, was now meant to be a little relaxing getaway complete with exotic birds for guests to escape to when the park became overwhelming.
To get to Discovery Island to experience all 150 of the exotic birds it had to offer, guests would have to take a boat from the mainland. At its peak, however, Discovery Island was home to over 500 different species of animals. Fast-forward to 1999 when Animal Kingdom was the new cool attraction; making the birds and Discovery Island obsolete. (Don’t worry! All of the animals were either transpired to Animal Kingdom or other zoological parks!)
While there are a number of boat tours guests can go on that allow them to get close to the island, if you even so much as get 50 feet to the shoreline, legal action can (and more than likely will) be taken which can result in a person getting banned front the park. Banned from the happiest place on Earth? We think not.
Let’s talk about the why. There are a ton of ideas out there regarding why people believe the island is now closed, some more colorful than others, but a few of the reasons include:
- The presence of Naegleria fowleri bacteria which killed an 11-year-old visitor in 1980.
- The controversy surrounding how animals were supposedly being treated by staff.
More than likely the island closed down because Animal Kingdom was larger, newer, and significantly more accessible, making it a smart move for the park to close the island down.