Really? Magic Kingdom has an airport? Why have I been flying into MCO all of these years then?
Not so fast, Magic Kingdom USED TO have an airport. More like a landing strip and it is still there, sort of.
The Lake Buena Vista Airport (IATA:DWS) was built in 1971 as a STOLport for use by Disney Employees, Executives and guests. It had scheduled passenger service to Orlando and Tampa provided by Shawnee Airlines.
The airfield is located to the East of where the current Magic Kingdom to Epcot Monorail Spur runs and North-East of where the current Toll Plaza for Magic Kingdom parking is located.
The airfield was did not have much room. Only enough to accommodate 4 aircraft and there were no hangers.
This airfield was actually a test by Walt Disney World. They wanted to see if it was feasible to have their own larger scale airport to accommodate guests of Walt Disney World. If this project was deemed profitable, Disney would have built their own major airport on the property.
Fortunately, for the entire Orlando tourist industry, Disney did not believe that this was a worth-while project. The project was scrapped it in the late 1970’s. All passenger service was discontinued by the early 1980’s. This was due to the expansion of the Magic Kingdom to Epcot Monorail spur which is too close to the runway for aircraft to safely land.
As of today, air traffic is prohibited from using this landing strip due to the area is a designated FAA “No Fly Zone”.
The Singing Runway
One interesting tidbit about this airport is that it’s only runway was designed with special grooves in the pavement. These groove allow passengers on landing aircraft to hear the song “When you Wish Upon a Star” when the aircraft traveled over them.
Can you imaging what the Orlando Area Tourism would look like today if this project had succeed. Orlando International Airport (MCO) most-likely would not have grown into one of the world largest and busiest airports. It probably would have been comparable to Sanford Airport. Would the bustling tourist area between Disney World and Orlando still have had popped up? or would it have built up more South and West of Lake Buena Vista?
Think about that the next time your are on the terminal shuttle at MCO.