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Dixie Landings Tales: The Saga of Ol’ Man Island

My favorite of the so-called “moderate” resorts at Walt Disney World is Dixie Landings (known today as “Port Orleans – Riverside,” it’ll always be Dixie Landings to me). I prefer its atmosphere and location to many of the pricier hotels on property, even though its amenities have suffered over the years from the constant and merciless cuts of the Eisner years. Still, its relaxed atmosphere and convenient location remain a draw; a nighttime trip down the Sassagoula is one of Walt Disney World’s most enjoyable, obscure and free attractions.

At the geographical center of Dixie Landings is Ol’ Man Island, where the resort’s main swimming area lies under the shade of towering oaks. As with most of the new construction from the early Eisner period, Dixie Landings is loaded with an enormous and obscure back-story to explain its origins. This was the period when we started to hear the constant refrain of “it all starts with story,” and when we were introduced to the legends of such apocryphal greats such as Merriweather Adam Pleasure or, in this case, brothers “Colonel” Jonathon Colby and Everette Peace. Who, you say? Why the Ol’ Man Everette Peace himself. Read on, from a 1995 issue of The Sassagoula Times:

The Tale of Ol' Man Island

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2 comments to Dixie Landings Tales: The Saga of Ol’ Man Island

  • Another Voice

    Ah, the good old days when every resort had themed guest communications…. Today they don’t even bother with themed theme parks – I can’t wait to get my “Disney Parks 2009″ t-shirt at California Adventure!

    The Pleasure Island expansion was one of the negative turning points at WDI. While “it all starts with story” is the right concept, the Imagineers at WDI did (do not) understand the difference between “story” and “plot”. The primary design flaw with Pleasure Island is that it doesn’t communicate a story. Instead there is a hugely elaborate plot which the Imagineers mistook for being the same thing. The result is that P.I. doesn’t connect to anyone on an emotional level – it’s just a collection of buildings.

    It’s a problem that WDI has had every since (and I’m looking at you Mr. Baxter). But it’s so much easier (and cheaper and faster) to come up with a plot that it is to come up with a story. Seriously, a plate of fake yeti poo in a fake museum is now considered the height of Disney Imagineering. This from the same group that gave us the gut twisting “this chamber has no windows and no doors…hahahahaha” Sigh.

    Fortunately, Dixie Landings and Port Orleans stumbled into a storyline (a journey down the Mississippi River) that works where there is a plot behind it or not. Tales about two brothers add a nice flavor to people who her about such things, but the resort still holds together for people who don’t.

  • Yes, I miss the themed resort packet material. I’ve been going though a lot of my archives lately, and I hadn’t realized how much things had changed. What kills me is that it can’t be that much more expensive to print out the better-themed packets than the ones they do use – they’re basically just being lazy.

    Your point about story vs. plot is spot on. In fact, I’ve been thinking about writing a list of the top five attractions ruined by plot. It’s become a real problem, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard the “it all starts with story” mantra repeated at D23.

    I love Port/Dixie because it works as a themed environment, and the story elements all fit perfectly into that. It’s down the big river, starting at New Orleans and going up into the backwoods. You get the nice plantation houses, and at the very headwaters you get the rustic wooden “shacks” in the swamp. It’s a great progression, it has a good atmosphere, and all these little backstory bits are neat pieces of trivia that enhance but are not necessary to enjoy.

    P.I., as you said, failed because there was a backstory there, but it was just a backstory for a bunch of arbitrarily themed warehouses in the swamp. Does the fact that there’s a plaque outside Mannequins telling the history of the building really tell a story? Show, don’t tell. The exception, of course, was the Adventurer’s Club, but even that was unrelated to its surroundings and seemed out of place. They’d have been much better off building the New Orleans section there, adjacent to Empress Lilly, and having shopping and hotels rooms. Then they could put Dixie Landings up the river.

    Basically, this is all to say that I agree completely haha..

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