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Florida Vacation ~ Discovery Island Pictures at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World
The year was 1990 and my mother, niece and I had made plans to spend five days at Walt Disney World. We had reserved lodging at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort for the duration of the Disney portion of our vacation.
The Carribbean Beach Resort was located in the Aruba complex with other appropriately named lodgings such as Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados. We also spotted Martinique, Old Port Royale (where dining facilities and shops were located) and the Custom House as we explored this very tropical resort area which had water features meandering through the grounds simulating a trip to actual islands.
One nice thing about staying at a Disney resort is not having to worry about driving or struggling to find available parking spaces or paying parking fees. They have buses that run frequently and on regular schedules and this is all at no additional cost.
Seven bus stops were located at the Caribbean Beach Resort in order to facilitate ease of transportation back and forth to the various sites at Walt Disney World. We found this to be an easy and friendly mode of traveling.
Naturally we saw and experienced much of the normal entertainment while at Walt Disney World and believe me, there is much to do and see!
One day we decided to take a break from the norm and see what Discovery Island had to offer. This proved to be a nice interlude for us from the frenetic activity that surrounds one at the other Disney theme parks.
Traveling to and from Discovery Island was by boat.
The following photos will give one an idea of what was to be found on this eleven and a half acre zoological park called Discovery Island. Sadly, it no longer exists as the park was closed in 1999.
The animals have been relocated to Disney's Animal Kingdom and other zoos. What transformation the island takes is yet to be determined as of the time of this writing.
On Discovery Island were thousands of different varieties of vegetation and plant-life. Think small tropical paradise and it would be a good description of what we found.
Water elements on Discovery Island as well as the lake surrounding the perimeter of the island created a great habitat for many of the aquatic loving birds and animals.
We enjoyed getting to see not only the many flamingos but also trumpeter swans, pelicans, several varieties of cranes, different types of ducks, storks, monkeys, lemurs, capybaras, Galapagos tortoises and more.
Animals at Walt Disney World's Discovery IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Once on Discovery Island one had a choice of many trails in which to meander and enjoy viewing the different animals most of which roamed freely as well as the beautiful tropical scenery which surrounded one.
Safely contained behind wires were some crocodiles, Ring-tailed lemurs from Madagascar and the Queen of Bavaria Conures which are an endangered species coming from North Eastern Brazil among others.
Numerous animals (over 100 + species) existed on Discovery Island besides the ones pictured or mentioned here. It was one of the most natural of zoo settings that we have ever gotten to enjoy.
The red bird pictured above is a Scarlet Ibis which originates in tropical South America.
A sign had the following information: "The early explorers of the Caribbean Sea wrote about trees covered with blood when they saw flocks of scarlet ibis. These birds are now protected over much of their range. Our breeding colony of Scarlet Ibis is the largest in the United States."
Galapagos Island Tortoises on Discovery Island
Getting to see Galapagos tortoises on Discovery Island was a rare treat. We will probably never get the chance to visit the Galapagos Islands which have been made into a National Park with the prime object of protecting these endangered tortoises. So we were thrilled to see five of these magnificent creatures on Discovery Island.
They were provided with a wonderful area in which to roam including sandy areas and also water. Shade was also provided. What we learned about them was informative and interesting.
- Galapagos tortoises originally had from 12 to 15 subspecies and only 11 remain alive today.
- Over 250,000 of them used to thrive in the Galapagos Islands but only about 15,000 are there today. They had few natural predators.
- Pirates in the 17th century used to capture the tortoises and take them on board ship in order to have a ready supply of food. Since the tortoises could survive without food or water for up to one year, this was a living source of sustenance when needed by the people aboard the ships.
- Other people also sought out the tortoises for oil and other purposes.
- The Galapagos National Park was created in 1959.
- In 1969 U.S. law made it illegal to import Galapagos tortoises or their eggs into the country. A year later the same rules were enacted impacting every other country.
- Since 1971, in order to further protect this endangered species, tourists in the Galapagos National Park are now all accompanied by guides while on tours.
Other interesting statistics:
- Galapagos tortoises live to be 100 to 150 years old and are not full grown until about age 40.
- Their prime reproductive years are from ages 60 to 90.
Birds on Discovery IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bird Shows and Aviary
At regularly scheduled times parrots, cockatoos, and other birds were part of a show. Some of the birds talked and did tricks on cue. Others were displayed and we learned a bit more about them. The white cockatoo pictured here was very friendly and posed while sitting on people's arms.
A walk through aviary united one in spirit with the free flying colorful birds that were in abundance. It was wonderful seeing them flitting from one tree to another as they would do in the wild.
We were so happy to have gotten to enjoy this respite from the normal hustle and bustle at Walt Disney World for a short while. I am saddened to learn that it no longer exists.
Those of you who may have visited Florida's Discovery Island while on vacation may like seeing these photos as a reminder of good memories, and for those of you who missed it, you will have some idea of what it was like.
I'll leave you with some final pictures.
Location of Walt Disney World and the location of Discovery Island
© 2009 Peggy Woods