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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Cypress Point Lodge



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

CYPRESS POINT LODGE

By Jim Korkis

The plan for Walt Disney World was for Disney themed resort hotels on property so that guests could stay for an extended vacation and have easy access to the theme park and surrounding amenities like golfing.

Originally, WDW featured the Polynesian Village Resort, the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The plan for Phase Two was to build within the next three years, three more resort hotels: The Asian, The Venetian and The Persian.

The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 that dropped attendance at WDW by twenty percent or more prompted Card Walker, the conservative and cautious chairman of the board of the Disney Company, to delay proceeding with the building of those resorts even though land and infrastructure were already being prepared for The Asian.

The very small and inexpensively-themed Golf Resort (which later became Shades of Green) open in 1973. It was the last WDW owned resort hotel to open for fifteen years until the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in 1988.

With the development of Epcot Center, the need for more hotel rooms on property to accommodate the hoped for influx of visitors became apparent and so plans were announced for more resorts.

Disney executive Dick Nunis was quoted in the May 1982 issue of the cast newspaper Eyes and Ears: “We also have in design three hotels. The Mediterranean will be located between TTC and the Contemporary. The Cypress Point Lodge will be west of River Country and be themed as a western hotel. It’ll include log cabins along Bay Lake.”

The third hotel would have been the Grand Floridian since preparation for the area had already been done years earlier. All three hotels were announced in 1980.

The November 4, 1982 issue of Walt Disney World Eyes & Ears provided the following description of the rustic, moderate resort:

“Cypress Point Lodge will be a medium-sized hotel facility, located on the south shore of Bay Lake near our Fort Wilderness Campground Resort. Encompassing 550 rooms and 50 log cabins on the beach, Cypress Point Lodge will offer a romantic notion of a turn-of-the-century hunting lodge secluded in a deep forest.

“Neither the trees nor the buildings dominate the entire area; but blend together in a natural harmony. One can almost hear the crackling fireplace and feel the large wooden beams offer a haven of security and comfort.

“Cypress Point Lodge will also include: two restaurants, a pool, extensive beach, and lake dock. Guests will commute in and out of Cypress Point Lodge by watercraft.”

One of the advantages of building the hotel was it was not on the monorail loop and so would not disrupt its operation or the Magic Kingdom.

Obviously the location and theme echoed the Wilderness Lodge Resort that would be built in 1994 but with several key differences including several separate waterfront cabins.

The land in the area had been cleared of trees by 1971 although some claim that this was originally meant for additional campground. The 1973 WDW souvenir guide states that an unnamed “Lodge” was planned to be built at Fort Wilderness for guests. A rough replica of the resort was featured in the model in the post show area of Magic Kingdom’s The Walt Disney Story attraction.

However, cost overruns for the building of Epcot Center resulted in Cypress Point Lodge being cancelled and it is no longer mentioned in any documentation after 1983.

With the arrival of new CEO Michael Eisner in 1984, he chose to develop both the Grand Floridian and a lodge-themed resort but with much different approaches, which became the Wilderness Lodge.

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Thanks, Jim! And the cabins in this area have now actually been built, although at a different price point than I imagine was contemplated then,  in the Cascade Cabins at the Wilderness Lodge’s Copper Creek Villas and Cabins!

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

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