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Fun Find Friday

February 8, 2013

Location: Seven Seas Lagoon

I think the Seven Seas Lagoon is one of the most impressive locations found throughout Walt Disney World. The waterway that sits in front of the Magic Kingdom (and Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian) is actually a man made lake! The lake, which measures 14 feet in its deepest location, has an artificial wave machine installed (but not in operation) to teach guests how to surf. In addition to that, islands with Florida wildlife sit calmly in the center of the area while guests zip around in miniature speedboats living the carefree life on their vacation.

One of the most overlooked experiences on the Seven Seas Lagoon are the ferryboats which guests board to travel from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom (I often opt for the monorail ride as do most guests). The three boats that make the daily trek across the Seven Seas are known as the Admiral Joe Fowler, General Joe Potter, and the one pictured below, the Richard F. Irvine!

Richard F. Irvine

I know what you are thinking, who on earth are these boats named after? Well, if we focused on all three individuals this article would turn into a novel, so today let's just focus on Richard F. Irvine (the other two will be covered sometime in the future). Richard started off his career in the film industry, not with Disney, but with 20th Century Fox. He was a fairly well known art director and over the years got to know Walt Disney personally.

Due to his keen eye for detail, Walt recruited Irvine to join the Walt Disney Company in the early 50s in order to help him with his newest venture: Disneyland. With his hard work attitude and his attention to every little nook and cranny, Richard went on to play a major role in the creation of Walt's park. Naturally, when the Florida Project (now known as Walt Disney World) was underway, Richard's eye for detail was put on center stage once again in order to make the Magic Kingdom just as detailed as its sister park (and in the process giving me something to write about each Friday).

In 1973, the Richard F. Irvine joined the Walt Disney World fleet of boats, but not in the Seven Seas Lagoon, but over at the Rivers of America inside the Magic Kingdom. The boat stayed in service for twenty-three years until it was renamed to the now Liberty Belle Riverboat. So how on earth did we get a boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon named the Richard F. Irvine?

Back in 1971 there was merely one ferryboat that traveled between the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom and it was known as the Magic Kingdom I (creative name, I know). In the following year the Magic Kingdom II joined the fleet and five years later the Kingdom Queen became the third boat to travel back and forth.

In the late 90s, the Disney Company began to look at the 30th anniversary of Walt Disney World which was just a few years away and decided that they should give acknowledgement to the three men that played a major influence on the original construction of Walt Disney World. So in 1999, the three ferryboats were renamed and the Magic Kingdom II became the Richard F. Irvine. What's the story for the other two you ask? Well, that's a story for a whole other Friday.


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