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Plaza Swan Boats
Plaza Swan Boats
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This attraction was alternately known as Plaza Swan Boats or Swan Boats. It was been personally championed by Card Walker in order to create something that would address the guest capacity issues. The boats first traveled in the hub moat on May 20,1973. There were two different loading docks that were used at various points during the boats' lifetime. One was located by the area that is now the outdoor terrace seating by the Plaza Restaurant. The other was located to the right of the castle toward Tomorrowland.
(Photo courtesy of Brotherdave.)
The Swan Boats required a D ticket and sailed around the moat of the central hub and circled around the Swiss Family Island Treehouse in Adventureland. The boats only operated during peak park periods and closed for good in August, 1983. Some reasons that may have contributed to their demise were capacity, mechanical and navigational problems with the boats. They ran on a joystick controlled jet propulsion system and the rider capacity was only 26 guests per boat.
Remains of the Swan Boats
The former entrance to the Swan Boat queue area was used for many years as entry to a rose garden and the old queue remained until 2014 when there was construction for another exit path out of the park. There have been conflicting reports as to what happened to the boats after they were removed. There is an "urban legend" among park fans that the boats were relocated to Lake Eola in Orlando but a simple Google image search will show that they are swan-shaped paddle boats. Although it would have been a logical choice, the boats were also not relocated to the Swan Resort. The boats there are also swan-shaped paddle boats. The scene at the exit of Space Mountain with the robot at the desk has a series of codes on a monitor, one of them is "MSU-SB" for the Swan Boats. The book shelf at the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen contains a book called The Grace of a Swan by "Plaza".
David McFee came across something that may shed some light on what happened to at least one of the boats. He encountered what appeared to be a modified Swan Boat named Snow White in a storage yard in West Palm Beach and shared the photos below. Please note that this boat is located on private property so please don't trespass to find it. He shared the pictures shown below. Although the swan at the front of the boat has been removed and there have been some other modifications, it appears to be one of the boats. If any one can shed some more light on this and what happened to the other boats, it would be appreciated.
Found: Salvaged Swans!
Walt Dated World Fan Jason Rubin is now the proud owner of a swan from one of the Swan Boats. It weighs about 85 pounds and measures approximately 7' x 5' x 5'. Jason's swan comes from a man whose father was friends with a machinist in central Florida who often worked for Disney. The machinist would sometimes take the man's father to Disney backlot auctions, and in the early 1980s his father purchased five swans from the old boats. They attached one of the swans to their pontoon boat for awhile but the neck eventually broke off and they sold the broken pieces. So that means at least one broken and four intact swans survive. The three remaining swans not owned by Jason may show up for sale someday so let Walt Dated World if you are lucky enough to be their new owner!
Walt Dated World received the following e-mail after the information was posted about Jason's swan:
"Hi there, my name is Bobby Lory. I got the name of your fantastic website from Jason Rubin, who bought one of the five swans my father John Lory had. I just wanted to clarify some information Jason gave you. It's true that my Dad bought the five swans sometime back in the early to mid-1980s at a Disney backlot auction. Dad went with a Disney employee (a machinist named Sam Medlin) and over the years they bought used pinball games (from the hotel game rooms and Main Street Penny Arcade) and many of the little speed boats that used to be rented out of the Polynesian Hotel and Contemporary Hotel for use on Bay Lake. And yes, my father did put a swan on the front of his pontoon boat and drew many admiring looks on the Butler Chain of Lakes in the Orlando area.
The clarification I wanted to make was that the neck of this swan didn't get broken off. One of the swans (whether it was the one from his boat or not I don't know) DID sustain a large crack in the neck but it was intact and sold earlier this year to an antiques dealer in Burbank, California. A second swan was recently sold to a woman who lives in the Central Florida area and a third swan was sold to Jason Rubin. Jason then got me in touch with the owner of the "Snow White", the Swan Boat featured on your website and the only original boat known to exist. I'm happy to say this man bought Swan #4 from my family this morning! He plans on restoring the "Snow White" to her former glory. That means there is just one swan left known to still be around. Oh, in one of the photos a swan is behind a "1776 - 1976" Bicentennial shield. This was a temporary ornamentation that once adorned one of the street lamps on Main Street during the Bicentennial celebration year. It is now proudly hung on my living room wall. It's the only piece of Disney World memorabilia I own, other than the name tags from when I worked as a landscaper at the Polynesian Hotel (summer of '81) and Lake Buena Vista area (summer of '82) while I was a student."
Swan and Boat Reunited!
Geoffrey Snyder is the owner of the Snow White Swan Boat that is featured on this page. When Geoffrey heard about Jason getting a swan recently on Walt Dated World, he got in touch with me and I put him in touch with Jason, who in turn put him in touch with Bobby. He was able to get one of Bobby's swans for his boat! Thanks to teamwork between several Disney fans, this Swan Boat is now being restored! Let's hope it gets to sail again soon.
2017 Swan Boat Update
Geoffrey recently emailed Walt Dated World with an update on his Swan Boat: "Thought I would touch base and let you know that I am getting close to getting the Snow White boat back together after making structural repairs and repowering with a diesel engine. My hope is to complete the boat this year sometime in fall, providing I can find the finances. Would like to take boat to Disney for a 30 plus year Anniversary/return visit. I am considering taking the boat to the islands were I am starting a small resort in the Caribbean and use it as a Eco Tour Boat."
2022 Swan Boat Update
In April of 2022, Geoffrey was at the RetroMagic50 convention, where he gave an interesting talk about restoring his Swan Boat and he even brought the Swan along for a photo opportunity! He gave a shout out to Walt Dated World for its role in his Swan Boat adventure but he did get one detail wrong- I am NOT Allison Fonte from the New Mickey Mouse Club. I am a completely separate Alison who has proudly been documenting Walt Disney World history since 2001 and plan to keep doing it for many years to come!
This is an unofficial fan site that is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney theme parks. All copyrights acknowledged. Please respect the work I put into compiling both existing and my own information on this site by not linking to any text or pictures without crediting that they were located on this site.
See ya real soon!