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