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A Friday Visit With Jim Korkis: Luna Park Pool

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Jim Korkis Luna Park Pool from yourfirstvisit.netDisney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas were designed to incorporate aspects of the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk and the fabled Coney Island to re-create an East Coast seaside vacation destination from the early 1900s.

The main themed pool at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Luna Park Pool, is a reference to one of the most popular early amusement parks at Coney Island.

Coney Island’s Luna Park was built and operated by Frederic Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy from 1903 to 1944.

It was one of three major entertainment parks at Coney Island –the other two were Steeplechase Park and Dreamland.

That’s the reason why the proprietor of the “On the Boardwalk Thimbles & Threads” shop is “F. Thompson” and inside the resort’s main lobby you’ll find “Dundy’s Sundries—Serving the Boadwalk since 1902”.

It is 1902 because Thompson and Dundy’s amazing ride from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition (the World’s Fair held in New York) called “A Trip To The Moon” was moved to Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park for the 1902 season.

It was an electrically powered dark ride where thirty passengers boarded a wooden spacecraft and were taken on a visit to the moon complete with little people dressed up as moonmen. It proved so popular that Thompson and Dundy had enough money to build their own amusement venue, Luna Park.

“Luna” is Latin for the “moon” (and also the name of the airship vehicle in their attraction). Dundy’s sister was also named “Luna”.

Amusement Park Theming Luna Park Pool at Disneys BoardWalk Inn and Villas from

Why are there elephants at the pool?

One of the biggest attractions at Coney Island’s Luna Park was its private herd of elephants, which roamed freely. Elephant rides were popular for the guests as well as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

However, cleaning an elephant is a long, arduous task so it was quickly discovered that taking the elephants out to the Atlantic Ocean to bathe was not only easier but it was free publicity for the park.

Jim Korkis on Luna Park Pool from

The Keister Coaster pool slide is meant to be reminiscent of the many classic wooden roller coasters at Coney Island in its prime. That’s why it is a seemingly wooden structure.

However, the huge clown face at the end is not just to reference the many clowns at Coney Island, one of whom was the famous animation director Dave Fleischer, who was rotoscoped in his clown outfit to become KoKo the Clown, the famous silent animated cartoon character.

One of the popular Midway games was the Clown Water Gun Balloon Game where a patron would shoot water into the open mouth of the head of a clown to build up pressure to blow up the balloon on the head to pop first so the player could win against other competitors doing the exact same thing with other clown heads.

The game still exists today and is popular. A variation of the game, an auto race, is one of the Midway games in the Wildwood Landing section on Disney’s boardwalk.

The nearby Ferris W. Eahlers Community Hall is not an obscure reference to a turn-of-the-century personality or an Imagineer. Said aloud it sounds like “Ferris Wheelers”, a reference to the Coney Island ferris wheels.

Main Pool Disney's BoardWalk Inn from

While most guests are unfamiliar with these connections, for those few who are it enhances an already premium experience at the BoardWalk In n and Villas.

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Thanks, Jim. Come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including The Vault of WaltWho’s Afraid of the Song of the South?, and The Book of Mouse, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.


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