#54: Making a Splash at Boardwalks Luna Park

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Green loop. Today we are discussing the best Disney resort pools.

Welcome Home!  The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort - Theme is everywhere, and the Luna Park Swimming Pool is no exception.
Welcome Home! The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort – Theme is everywhere, and the Luna Park Swimming Pool is no exception.

Summer 2015 is here, and if you’re headed to Walt Disney World chances are you have big plans.  On select days, the Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00am and Extra Magic Hours last until 2:00am.  Epcot and Hollywood Studios are opened until 11:00pm on Extra Magic nights.  What’s the trick?  Pace!  Especially with little ones, you can just about time your watch to the midafternoon melt downs through the parks, and with the price of tickets I can completely understand why trying to go straight through is so attractive.  There is a better way.  If you and your family are early risers, head to the Magic Kingdom for the morning show. (Details Here at SamsDisneyDiary #19)  Those precious morning hours will allow you to accomplish more in 3 hours than you can in 6 hours midday.  Have a plan ready.  If you have little ones, try Mine Train, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Little Mermaid, and use your Fast Passes for later when the lines are longer.  If you don’t have a plan then you can go to Touringplans.com (and use discount code 15NERDS to save 20%).

The trick is to take a break before the afternoon melt down, and there is no place better than your Walt Disney World resort pool!   Every Walt

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #54: The Video, click image below to play, Blog Continues after the video.

Luna Park Pool at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk
Luna Park Pool at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk

Disney World resort has a swimming pool.  They are outside and all continue the resorts theme.  From basic in-ground swimming pool to the expansive Storm-Along Bay sand bottom pool and lazy river and everything in-between.  The swimming pool should be a consideration if you’re traveling during the summer months (May – Sept); pools are open all year round and heated, so they can even be enjoyed during your holiday trips.

While every Walt Disney World pool offers outstanding theming, the pool features can be directly linked to the type of resort.  I won’t get into all of the differences here, but the value resorts, while very whimsically themed, are large in-ground pools with a water feature or two that’s spitting/squirting water into the pool.   The exception to the value resorts is Art of Animation and the Big Blue Pool, a nearby kid play area provides a nice distraction outside of a “kiddie pool” found at the other value resorts.   Moving up to the moderate resorts, you’ll find the same detail in theming and the addition of a water slide and hot tub.  The deluxe resorts take it to the next level.  From Yacht and Beach Clubs Storm Along Bay complex with a 150-foot slide to the Polynesian’s Volcano Pool, the pools in some cases are part of the destination and should be figured into the cost of the resort.

Keaster Coaster water Slide
Keaster Coaster water Slide

So what’s my favorite pool?  The one at the resort I’m staying at, of course… and most frequently that’s my Disney Vacation Club home resort, The Walt Disney World Boardwalk!  Theme is all around you at the Boardwalk where you are transitioned to an east coast turn-of-the-century boardwalk, a cross between Coney Island and Atlantic City.  There will be a full SamsDisneyDiary on the Boardwalk in the future, and if you are after a full tour check out the Disney Nerds Podcast Show #54.

Every Disney resort has a signature pool, and at the Boardwalk it’s “Luna Park”.  Why Luna Park?  While they could have called it the Boardwalk pool, the backstory behind Luna Park goes all the way back to 1901.  The Pan-American Exposition, a type of World Fair, was held in Buffalo, New York in 1901.  Two men, Elmer “Skip” Dundy and Frederic Thompson, invented a ride called Trip to the Moon.  Trip to the Moon was a large rocket shaped ride that passengers would board and look out a window as they flew over Niagara

Theme is everywhere at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk - and the Luna Park Feature Swimming pool is no Exception
Theme is everywhere at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk – and the Luna Park Feature Swimming pool is no Exception

Falls (remember you were boarding in Buffalo, New York) and head toward the moon.  Unlike the usual illusion show which moved around the spectators, this one would take the audience on a journey. The scenes were changed manually by sliding cards over the windows until you landed on the moon. You were greeted by moon people who then offered their new visitors moon cheese (remember, it was 1901 – That’s what the moon was thought to be made of).  Turns out it was the most popular attraction of the 1901 exposition; over 400,000 people rode “Trip to the Moon”   After the exposition, the partners, Elmer “Skip” Dundy and Frederic Thompson moved the attraction to the Steeplechase Park at Coney Island.  It was again a huge success, so much so that management of the Steeplechase increased their cut.  In response, Dundy and Thompson bought out the neighboring Sea Lion Park and in 1903, created Luna Park; Luna being Latin for Moon.

Helter Skelter at the real turn of the century Luna Park
Helter Skelter at the real turn of the century Luna Park

The Boardwalk swimming pool name is a tribute to Skip and Frederic and their Luna Park.  All parks on the coast had to have a roller coaster, and our Luna Park is no exception.  Typically you would get into some sort of car or train to ride a roller coaster; but for our coaster, you sit on your keister!   Hence the name Keister Coaster for the feature water slide themed to a roller coaster.  Do you remember the games on the boardwalk where you shoot water into a clown’s mouth and watch the balloon fill with water with the first to pop winning?   Notice the Keister Coaster exits right out of a clown’s mouth, exactly where you would shoot the water to win the boardwalk game.  Clowns were also used to entertain riders as they waited in line… call that the first interactive queue.

Elephant Rides at the Real Luna Park - Cony Island
Elephant Rides at the Real Luna Park – Cony Island

What about those elephants?  Turns out Luna Park had a herd of elephants, and they were used as an attraction.  Ride the elephants, almost like riding a pony.  In order to bring attention to the elephants, the trainers would take the elephants to the ocean where they could clean themselves right on the beach.  You can imagine a busy summer day

Elephants at the Pool?  Why?
Elephants at the Pool? Why?

on the beach and a herd of elephants come walking right into the water to take a bath.  People would gather quickly to watch the elephants play in the water and maybe get squirted; Luna Park hoped that you would follow the elephants back to the park and purchase a ticket for a ride.  While you can’t ride the elephants at Disney’s Boardwalk, you can let them squirt you all day.  Did you see the baby elephant over at the kids’ pool?

Sonora Webster Carver with one of the "Leaping Horses"
Sonora Webster Carver with one of the “Leaping Horses”

Leaping Horse Libations is a whimsical carousel-themed bar and snack bar, but of course there is much more to the name.   The name comes from the painting on the side, the diving horse with a girl.  There was a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey on the end of a steel pier.  A horse would dive into a tank of water (from 40-60 feet) with a woman rider.  The real story is the girl, Sonora Carver.  During her second year of diving, Sonora hit the water the wrong way and seriously injured her eyes,

Sonora Webster Carver mid Leap
Sonora Webster Carver mid Leap

detaching both retinas – causing blindness.  She continued to ride the horse for 11 years without the crowd knowing she was blind.    Sonora’s story can be found in her 1961 Book, A Girl and Five Brave Horses  and seen in a highly fictionalized movie of her life Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.  Sonora died in 2003 at the age of 99.

Want another piece of trivia?  Have you ever noticed the design of the ESPN Club on the boardwalk?  It’s designed to resemble the tank that Sonora would dive into!  And remember Skip Dundy?  The general merchandise store in the lobby of the Boardwalk is “Dundee’s Sundries: Serving the general public since 1902”, and you can find Frederic Thompsons name on the store on the boardwalk.  Now that’s theming!

Now outside of the theming, the swimming pool is a perfect way to relax while recharging and getting ready for more Disney park fun.  There is a nearby playground and campfire.  Check the schedule for pool games and activities and have a blast at Luna Park and have a blast at the Luna Park pool!

Be sure to check out the video of my experience. Thanks for watching, reading and listening. Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary, www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Best Disney Resort Pools Loop:


6 thoughts on “#54: Making a Splash at Boardwalks Luna Park

  1. Such an awesome post, Sam. I’m from New York and Coney Island is about ten minutes from my house. It’s funny – now that I see the turn of the century photos of the real Luna Park, I can see so much of the theming of that area. I always have had a jaded look at the Boardwalk’s Luna Park because the current state of Coney Island is a bit dismal.

    Thanks for sharing and for being a part of this look. Awesome photos.

  2. Did you know they have a tour there? 😉 I loved reading this, loved the detail! And I was glad to see video, I wondered if you’d surprise me and go all written. I’m glad you didn’t! Fun rookie loop, well done my friend! 🙂

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