Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming experience of sights and sounds — even for the most seasoned Guest. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to miss the unique touches and backstories that are part of the history and magic of Walt Disney World.
Today we’re heading to World Showcase in Disney’s Epcot, to take a peek at something behind the American Gardens Theater. Anchored on the shores of World Showcase Lagoon is a ship called the Golden Dream. Why is it there and what is its story?
Sadly, very few Disney Cast Members are aware of the Golden Dream or its history. But with their help and with some research, here are some facts and history about one of the lesser known attractions at Disney’s Epcot.
The Golden Dream is described as a historically accurate replica of a 1776 Continental rum runner sloop. A sloop is a sailing ship with a single mast and a fore-and-aft rig. Sloops have been both war and trading ships with a flat deck to hold a vast array of supplies. Designed and developed for Walt Disney World by Dering Fine Art Consultants, the Golden Dream originally appeared on World Showcase Lagoon in 1993. The ship name is reminiscent of the finale song from the film featured in the American Adventure attraction. On the Dering Fine Arts website is an image of the schematic for the Golden Dream but the image resolution is fuzzy (an awesome discovery that is well worth a scan, nonetheless).
In August 2004, Hurricane Charley forced the closure of all four Walt Disney World parks. The resort experienced minimal damage and reopened immediately after the storm passed. Unfortunately, the Golden Dream experienced structural damage during the storm and reportedly was removed from World Showcase Lagoon shortly thereafter.
Thanks to a forward-thinking Epcot Cast Member who convinced Imagineers to resurrect the Golden Dream, the ship was refurbished and reinstalled on World Showcase Lagoon in 2006. There was even a re-dedication ceremony with everyone’s favorite a capella performers, the Voices of Liberty.
No longer a free-floating ship, the Golden Dream is now a detailed and elegant facade on a floating dock. Created by BlueDock™, the Golden Dream sits on custom floatation units that support the sloop. The ship is composed of aluminum, plastic, and styrofoam and without wood or steel, to prevent potential future storm damage.
To get the best vantage point to view the Golden Dream, head to Italy at Disney’s Epcot. Walk over the water piazza bridge on World Showcase Lagoon and think of these lyrics, “America, spread your golden wings, sail on freedom’s wind, across the sky. Great bird, with your golden dreams
flying high, flying high.” Sail on, Golden Dream!
(Logo property of WDW Radio. Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
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