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EDITORIAL - Why did the Golf Resort have to go away?
by B.J. Major
1/4/13

The Walt Disney World Golf Resort in its original state was a very special place indeed.  It was just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of not only the theme park crowds but of the major resort hotel crowds as well.  It was always a nice, quiet place to visit.  And they had some of the best food available to purchase in all of Walt Disney World.  Their buffet was simply amazing, and who could possibly forget the French Fried Ice Cream for dessert?  Yum!

I happen to love to watch both live and televised golf and even play several golf video games myself; but that's really not why I loved the Golf Resort.  Yes, it was great that my favorite spectator sport was featured in its own resort-hotel on the property, but I liked it because the place was peaceful and quiet - and yet, it was still Disney!  To spend some time going there for a meal and take a nice walk around the premises was reason enough to go; I can just imagine that if I possessed the talent of being a golfer in real life, it would have been paradise for me.

It also had cool Disney touches like a sandtrap in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head and plenty of Disney characters walking around for meet and greet (and, tastefully done in the "old days" of the first decade).  Who were all dressed, of course, in full classic golf attire.  I also loved the logo of the resort itself (the WDW "D" with a golf club and ball inside it) and also of the character that was adapted for the merchandise sold at the resort - Mickey Mouse dressed in classic golf attire, swinging a golf club (known to most as "Swingin' Mickey").  With two beautiful championship golf courses to look out on from the Clubhouse, what in the world was not to like here?  The answer my friends is nothing, nothing at all.

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So what happened here?  Well, first we had a name change.  From the Golf Resort to The Disney Inn.  The resort went basically from being golf themed to Snow White themed.  This was a bad decision, in my opinion.  The character and story of Snow White has nothing to do with golfing, not even remotely.  I understand that the name and overall theme change was to make the resort appeal to more than golfers, but that was really defeating this particular resort's origins and settings.  By the early 1990s, the U.S. military was looking for a permanent resort in the continental U.S. and over the ensuing years with a combination of both leasing and outright purchase, the military wound up owning what was once our beloved Golf Resort (though Disney owns the land it sits on) and renamed the place Shades of Green.  With this purchase, it is no longer possible for the general public to stay at this resort and it's more or less off-limits to anyone except those with a U.S. military I.D. card and Dept. of Defense employees.  In addition, the entire resort underwent a massive expansion and remodeling that concluded in 2004.  So for all intents and purposes, whatever we once knew as the original Disney Golf Resort (except for the golf courses themselves) is no longer recognizable in its original form.  Some photos and select memorabilia are all that remain of this unique and first Disney golf experience.

Why did Disney feel they had to do this, sell off part of its own resort?  I wish I knew the answers, I can only speculate.  Change of top management at Disney in the early 1980s is one reason; I believe the new management really didn't care about selling off something that was part of WDW's Phase One master plan from the beginning.  They had nothing invested in it because they weren't there when Walt was alive and when Roy was carrying out Walt's final dream.  But one thing is for certain, though.  There is enough land at Walt Disney World where Disney could have built the military its OWN resort, complete with whatever they would want there.  I'm not denying that the military and military families need a place they can get away from it all to rest, relax and enjoy.  They more than deserve that.  But why take something away from the rest of us who enjoyed this place JUST for what it was?  This is the question that no one seems to want to answer.

I miss the Golf Resort.  I miss the way it originally looked when it opened in 1971 and later on in 1973 when guest rooms were added to what was there.  To me and my way of thinking, it should still be there, looking that way it did back then.  And Shades of Green should be somewhere else on the property, housed in its own resort.  We should not have had to give up one resort to make room for another--because there was and is room for both.

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