Below: The Ports-O-Call - now retired in 1984, at Disney World's Drydock area. This special commemorative "Ports-O-Call Group Photo" was taken of the event. It was the final gathering event for the Watercraft crewmembers who worked aboard the Ports-O-Call, during her active service life, as a Walt Disney World passenger steamship.
this 1984 photo was taken, the Ports-O-Call was officially strictened from
the list, raised up out of the water, and broken up on the Drydock area hill,
the following month.
This photo was taken by Gary Fitzpatrick and Greg Chin, in the Summer of 1984. - Click to see large version.
(Note: Retired from service in 1984)Osceola class
Length: 100'- 5/8" long
Beam: 30'-0" wide
Draft: 5'-6" deep at keel
Displacement: 160 tons (Best estimate)
Engine: Steam boiler operating a genuine "Gallows A-Frame Walking Beam Engine". Modeled after the type found on the steamer "Francis Skiddy"of the gold rush era, circa 1900's.
Built: Hull sections built at the Tampa Bay Drydock Co. But then assembled at WDW's Drydock and Central Shops, during 1970.
The "Ports-O-Call" - an authentic steamship -
- The "Ports-O-Call" steamship, like her sistership, the first "Southern Seas", was built in 1969 and completed in 1970, at the Disney Central Shops and Drydock. Her wooden and fiberglass-encased hull was built in sections at the Tampa Bay Drydock Company, in Tampa, Florida. She was designed by WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering) in Glendale, California, during 1967. Along with the rudder for steering, the side-paddlewheels were the sole means of propulsion for the ship. There were no propellers, like on the later Ferryboats, and other Disney watercraft vessels. Because of her steam boiler drum, the Ports and the first Seas, had a real steam whistle to blow, just like the ones found aboard the Walt Disney World Steam Trains.
- Originally used to provide guest transporation from the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) Boat dock, the two Osceola-class steamships represented something truly unique and nostalgic, that hasn't been seen on the lakes and the waters of the world since the early 1900's. In order to qualify as being a "ship", versus being a "boat", a vessel must be at least 100' long. Her length of 100' - 5/8", just barely qualifies her as a ship!
- The Ports-O-Call operated in regular service from 1971, until about 1984. Quite a long time for an authentic steamship. Still, over the course of her service life, her wooden "egg-crate" compartmented hull was badly damaged by wood rot due to the cumulative effects of the resulting water seepage into her hull layers. Building a new hull could have saved her, but the boiler's water and heat exchanger copper tubing in her boiler drum were also showing signs of porous corrosion over the years. It would have required a massive overhaul just to rip out the sides of the ship's lower deck superstructure, in order to access it for a complete replacement.
- During 1984, some of the Watercraft pilots were petitioning the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., to see if they were interested in having the Ports-O-Call as a permanent exhibit in Washington D.C.. But nothing ever really came out of it, so the Ports-O-Call was raised out of the water, by the end of 1983, and kept "on the hill" behind Drydock, for many months, before she was finally doomed to the scrappers ( an outside demolition contractor) during the Fall of 1984. It was a sad sight to see, but I'm glad I took some final photos of the demolition going on, just to complete the story of our dearly departed ship. A bulldozer was used to break up the hull, the superstructure, and all of her deck parts. In accordance to Disney tradition, certain fittings, plaques, and engine room parts were saved for Walt Disney World naval history. As far as the Disney theme parks go, "The past need not die. It can be reborn again." Perhaps later, as part of something else, or as part of another Disney theme park.
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