January 9, 2008

Disney's Discovery Island

Discovery Island, also known as "Bay Lake's Tropical Island Paradise," is an 11½-acre island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It opened as "Treasure Island" on April 8, 1974, and was a place to observe wildlife. It was closed to the public on April 8, 1999, but continued to operate until July 9, 1999, at which point all of its animals had been relocated to new homes at Disney's Animal Kingdom (which retained the Discovery Island name in the hub area formerly called Safari Village) and other zoos.

Disney's Discovery Island has been abandoned since 1999.  Before it closed many families made memories here and they will continue to talk about their time spent on Disney's Discovery Island. Whether they stayed right in Disney-themed hotels or in Disney hotels Orlando, they adventured to the Island, that is, until they were no longer able. At the time, the Bay was a popular site for Disney travelers.

Did you have the chance to visit Discovery Island before it closed?  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
The photo at the top was taken while the island was still open. The photo below was taken in 2002, after the island closed, in its abandoned state.

I haven't been able to find any photos of any ruins online, but we know they are there. Aerial views show buildings till standing. I did find this interesting and funny post on one of the Disney boards. Perhaps this is why there are not photos (besides the fact you need a boat to get there):

"A boat skipper during a Wishes Cruise told us that the last time Disney folks were on the island removing the last of the useable equipment from the buildings they encountered a gator and a VERY large snake. (He was the boat driver that took them over). The place is now 100% totally abandoned. There was a light that was on during the cruise and I asked about it. He said "notice how it is next to the ground". It was your standard street lamp. It had gotten knocked over during the hurricanes and apparently a wire short circuited and that's why it was on. In my two Ft. Wilderness visits since then, I have not seen the light on any more, so they have now totally cut power to the island." (or the light finally burned out - Brian

Page from a WDW guide book.

2008 photos of the abandoned island


A great story about a group sneaking onto the island at night. Submitted by Matt (see the comments section below).

Did you have the chance to visit Discovery Island before it closed?  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.


  1. When I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge in November '08, I sailed past the island several times on my way to the Magic Kingdom and there were a couple of lights flashing on the island.

    1. If its abononed why where there lights on?

  2. From following a link of the Orlando Sentinal.


    Slightly reminiscent of Jurassic Park 2/3! At least the bay vultures didn't try to eat them though.