Enjoying the Outdoors - The Disney Way: Water, Water Everywhere

by Rod Wheaton, contributing writer

According to Disney legend, during a flight over what would become Walt Disney World, Walt was said to have looked down on an island sitting in the middle of Bay Lake (an island that would go thru several name changes, but is most recognized as Discovery Island) and pronounced that this was the site where he would build his new east coast park. He understood the appeal of water, and water and Florida went hand in hand.

Even now water is a tremendous feature throughout Walt Disney World. From the fountains that create reverse waterfalls at the Imagination pavilion in Epcot, to cruising past the same island Walt first saw on a boat of your own, the appeal and draw to the water is part of a Walt Disney World vacation.

From any dock in the World you can rent boats (from the small Sea Raycers to a large pontoon boat), book a fishing trip, go skiing, or even take a full parasailing tour over Bay Lake. If you like your thrills a little more on the mellow side, there's a slow meandering canoe trip you can take at your own pace that passes thru the campground at Fort Wilderness.

Boating from Fort Wilderness is one of many water-based activities available at Walt Disney World. Photo by Rod Wheaton.

Walt Disney World knows how to use the appeal of water when it comes to putting on a good show, too. Every night the Electrical Water Pageant makes its way across Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake in a display of sea serpents, whales, dinosaurs, and other whimsical sea creatures.

Guests at Epcot can view the nightly showing of Illuminations around the World Showcase lagoon. Scenes of mankind's history—from cave dweller to modern life—are projected onto a globe as it floats across the water, finally mixing with an amazing display of fire and booming explosions in the sky.

Even the attractions themselves at Walt Disney World often incorporate or even center around water. The Jungle Cruise, "it's a small world," Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Gran Fiesta Tour at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot are all rides featuring water and boats as central parts of the appeal.

Fishing At Walt Disney World

An often overlooked outdoor experience at Walt Disney World is fishing. Like a lot of dads, I like to fish, and also like a lot of dads, I seldom find the time. So why make time when vacationing at the biggest sprawling theme park complex in the world? In a word: Florida. Florida was a sportsman's paradise long before Walt and Roy came to town, and despite the parks, crowds, transportation systems, and gift shops, much of Walt Disney World is a remarkably well-preserved nature spot.

Disney teamed up with Take Me Fishing about two years ago after recognizing the appeal of adding a more natural side to visitors' vacations. The group is dedicated to helping families and individuals rediscover the simple joy of a day spent on the water, and is the sponsor of the on-site fishing activities.

I've said before I'm a shameless proponent of Fort Wilderness; I'm practically a Fort Wilderness evangelist and recruiter. There are places to fish other than the Fort, but nothing beats the effect of its natural setting to entice a visitor to grab the fishing poles and head out.

Most people that come to Walt Disney World come for the theme parks, pirates, water parks, safaris, turkey legs, churros, etc., but most don't realize that Walt Disney World has some of the best bass fishing in the whole state. One reason for this distinction is the long-standing catch and release policy that ensures a continual supply of large, mature specimens. Another reason is the immense volume of waterways that feed into the resort's outlying areas.

Port Orleans Riverside also has a fishing spot on Ol' Man Island where guests can try their hand with cane poles. Photo by Sue Holland.

Got a guy in your family who just isn't buying into the theme park experience? Send him out on one of the excursions for a chance to catch a trophy size bass and you may have a Walt Disney World convert. There are also a number of canals along the Fort's edges that provide great opportunities to fish.

From the earliest days of the parks to the current day, water has been a big draw at Disney parks. The Rivers of America entertains guests with paddle boat tours through America's history, Jungle Cruise boats explore exotic flora and fauna, and guests stroll around World Showcase Lagoon. On your next trip, why not check into an activity you've never tried?

To book a fishing excursion at Walt Disney World, call 407-WDW-BASS.



  1. By danyoung

    Thanks for the water article. One small correction - they no longer use the water mouse boats. The new boats, made by Sea Ray, are called Sea Raycers. They're basically the same thing - a small, 1 or 2 person boat with a 9.9 hp motor. Once you get them planed out you can really make some good time scooting across the water. Very fun!

  2. By stan4d_steph

    Thanks, Dan. I'll fix the nomenclature.

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