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