Walt Disney World
A History in Postcards
Sailing the Seven Seas (Lagoon)
Part II Ferries, Launches, Cruisers, and Friendships
A page on the Transportation Watercraft of Walt Disney World

There are three ferryboats that provide service between the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and the Magic Kingdom the original names of the ferry boats were: Kingdom Queen, Magic Kingdom I, and Magic Kingdom II
Magic Kingdom I
 This image appeared in the " pictorial souvenir " soft cover from 1977 page 4
In 1999 in honor of the (at that time upcoming) 30th anniversary of the WDW resort they were re-named after some of the people important in the design of the parks and in the building of Walt Disney World like Richard F. Irvine, Admiral Joe Fowler, and General Joe Potter. According to Captain Matt from WDW Watercraft

The Potter is also the only ferryboat with two smoke stacks and seating on the lower deck only. This is because the "General Joe Potter" used to be used for charters. Large companies or weddings could rent the boat for a price. Before the most recent rehab, the General Joe Potter used to have two wet bars on the upper deck and bathrooms. Now the wet bars are gone and all that is left of the bathrooms are the fixtures and doors. The "Gen. Joe Potter" is now only used to transport guests, it is no longer rented out for charters. the "Potter" also weighs 180 tons empty, unlike the other two ferryboats which weigh 190 tons empty. This is because the Potter is made from primarily aluminum and the others are made primarily of steel. The only other differences between the Potter and the other two are only noticed by the pilot. The Potter is slower to respond to controls than the other two, because the Potter has a slight keel and the other two are completely flat-bottomed.  
This image of the 
KINGDOM QUEEN was included in the
hardcover souvenir books from the mid 80's through early 90's in the 
Waterways of the World Section near the back
Admiral Fowler was also in charge of the building of Disneyland and was in charge of running Disneyland it's first ten years. According to D. M. Miller in his book What Would Walt Do "After Joe Fowler Moved to the site, it was General Potter who intercepted the media, the politicians, everybody who could distract the Admiral from his duties in getting the project built. As far as the public was concerned he was much better known than Admiral Fowler was. It looked to the outside world like the General was in charge of everything. He and the Admiral worked like hand and glove and pulled it off very well." So once the Steamboat Admiral Joe Fowler was retired from it's service on the Rivers of America, and The Richard F. Irvine in the park was renamed the Liberty Belle, it seems only fitting that the ferry boats were renamed for these men especially it seems, to me, The Admiral Joe Fowler since many of the descriptions and stories about him seem to mention that the Boats and Dry dock areas of both Disneyland and WDW were his favorite areas (probably in the same way that Walt loved his trains).

GENERAL JOE POTTER FERRY OCT. 2003 GENERAL JOE POTTER FERRY OCT. 2003 GENERAL JOE POTTER FERRY OCT. 2003 This picture was in the " One Day At Disney " book p.33

Ahoy There!

Captain Matt of the WDW Watercraft department offered to answer questions I might have about the ferries , So I inquired, and he replied. some of his information I used in the main part of the page but he had much a lot more neat information the remainder of which is below:
" I can address all of your questions and can probably sneak some tidbits in there too.
There were actually two side-wheel steamers named the "Southern Seas" The original "Southern Seas" was retired  in 1975 and scrapped in 1977. The "Ports of Call" was retired in 1982 and scrapped in 1984. The second "Southern Seas" was built in 1977 after the scrapping of the first. After the opening of Epcot in the 1980s the boat wasn't used as much. It was used for midnight cruises, and for trips to and from the World Cruise dock to Discovery Island. But in 1997, it was deemed unnecessary and was taken out to a hill behind dry dock and scrapped after 20 years of service."
The Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat from Frontierland was scrapped in 1984 along with the "Ports of Call". As for what happened to the materials from it, I don't know.
[editors note. I had asked him if he knew if any of the materials form it had been saved for use on other ships or for later use, like in the steamer at Tokyo DL. ]

  • All ferryboats are 120 ft long and 34 feet wide.
  • The Fowler and the Irvine is 31' 6" tall with a 5' 6" draft.
  • The Potter is 33' 1" tall, with a 5' draft.
  • All the ferryboat are powered by 2 Caterpiller liquid-cooled diesel engines model 3406, rated at 275 hp each, 893 cubic inches each.
  • Each spins a 36" diameter bronze propeller.
  • Each ferryboat has 2 air-cooled diesel powered generators. Fowler and Irvine- Palmers at 25 watts, the Potter- Katos at 50 watts.
  • Each ferryboat is controlled with two tiller levers, a bow and a stern. the stern tiller is used for steering, while the bow tiller is only used to position the bow while docking, a good pilot doesn't need to do this.
Also just a fun fact, out of all the watercraft that Walt Disney World operates, the most maneuverable boat is the ferryboat, which is also the biggest.

And yes you can credit me on your site, Just call me Capt. Matt. and nothing I have told you is a Disney Secret. Everything is basic knowledge taught during training and everything I've told you can be told to a guest if they asked a crew member.

Thanks for your interest in Walt Disney's Watercraft
Matt   Captain Matt
A few months after I exchanged emails with him I actually ran into him at WDW while Carlene and I were at WDW on our honeymoon and snapped this picture!


Bruce Metcalf, RADPs Zazu, provided the following information on the other passenger service watercraft of the WDW waterways.

"Launches" served Discovery Island (when it was in Bay Lake -- not the one in Animal Kingdom), and continue to serve on the Magic Kingdom/Grand Floridian/Polynesian route, the Fort Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge/Contemporary route, and on light days, the Fort Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge/Magic Kingdom route. There are six of them, named: Adventurer, Explorer, Mariner, Navigator, Seafarer, and Voyager, with a capacity of 39 passengers (capacity figure courtesy Captain Matt). The Launches are much smaller than the ferries with a smokestack sticking through a vinyl canopy, sort of like the Jungle Cruise launches before they got their "ageing treatment" but with a different seating arrangement, more graceful lines, and a mast sticking through the canopy too the mast holds up their mast light for night operations. Some times of year, low fog will settle on the lagoon, and only the mast light can be seen by the Cruisers and Ferries.( mast info contributed by Bruce Metcalf-- description bB) Also there is a lightning rod on top of the mast, which I've already said. The rod is connected by a wire to two large metal plates on the bottom of the hull under the waterline. this is how the ligthning would get spread out into the water. . All the boats at the Magic Kingdom are grounded for lightning. Speaking of mast lights, If you've ever wondered how we know whether a ferryboat is coming or going or about to leave the slip or any of that ...it's the mast lights. If you ever see ferryboat at night, take notice of the mast light. The mast light is always "on" on the end the boat steers from, the stern. So say for instance a cruiser needs to pass in front of the ferryboat slip and the mast light is "on" the end that is away from the Magic Kingdom, that tells us that the boat is still being controlled from the pilot that is facing the Magic Kingdom and the boat is not going to pull out. Now if we see that light turn off and the other mast light turn on, we know the control has just been passed to the other pilot house and the ferryboat is about to pull out. The navigation lights also change ends when control is past between pilot houses. The navigation lights are always on the Bow of the ferryboat. (lightning and mast/nav light info Captain Matt) Nowadays, the smokestack is for diesel exhaust, but originally they were steam powered, according to Captain Jeff:The motor launches were in operation on Opening Day, 10/1/71, as resort transportation. They started as actual steam launches but were very prone to mechanical problems. They were converted to gasoline engines until the Oil Embargo of 1974 and then were converted to natural gas as well as the ferries. Later they were outfitted with Detroit Diesels and now have Perkins diesels. The first letter of the name of the launch is on each navigation light. Also three launches have white hulls and three have blue hulls. The white hulls are remembered with the letters A N E, Adventurer, Navigator, Explorer. and the blue hulls are the other three, Mariner, Seafarer, and Voyager. (Launch I.D. Info contributed by Capt. Matt)
this launch is named the Navigator

The Cruisers are the large clearly modern looking boats. on Bay Lake/Seven Seas Lagoon. Normally in service on the Fort Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge/Magic Kingdom route, only occasionally serving other routes for heavy traffic or bad weather. There are three of them, named: Bon Voyage, Castaways, and Mermaid I (no, there isn't a Mermaid II).(contributed by Bruce Metcalf) The teal colored ship pictured below is the Mermaid I . The Bon Voyage or "Bonnie" is yellow, the "Castaways" is dark blue. The bonnie and the castaways are identical, and the Mermaid is the only cruiser that looks different. and unlike the smokestacks on the launches the cruisers smokestack is the just for decoration . (Capt Matt except for the reference to teal bB )
Mermaid I Mermaid I and GENERAL JOE POTTER FERRY OCT. 2003
"Friend Ships" are the boats used in World Showcase Lagoon and the waterways between there and the Disney-MGM Studios. I'm not sure how many there are, but they are numbered. Highest I can recall offhand is the "Friend Ship VIII".(contributed by Bruce Metcalf)

E-mail Me martsolf@mindspring.com

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Last modified by Brian K Martsolf at 1:24 PM on 3/17/2003