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Thursday, March 24, 2011
Blizzard Beach At Walt Disney World: See You Later, Ice Gator!
The mascot for the Blizzard Beach water park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a cold-blooded (in the reptile sense) fellow named Ice Gator. He is in good company with other characters created for Disney Parks, including Epcot's Figment the dragon, and the Magic Kingdom's Country Bears. This bobble head of Ice Gator was sold through a Disney online discount outlet years ago.
Blizzard Beach is "a melting ski resort", which is an incredibly creative theme for a water park.
This great artwork featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Minnie chilling with their cool new friends was created by artist Larry Nikolai for the "Suitable for Framing" section of the Spring 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine (a publication known for many years as "Disney News").
Blizzard Beach opened at Walt Disney World in 1995, and was designed to relieve the crowds at Disney's River Country water park (opened in 1976 and closed down for good in 2001) and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park (which opened in 1989).
Blizzard Beach is heavily themed (yes, it has a ski lift!). I have to admit that I've never been to the park, but it looks really cool. I'd say ice cold!
Walt Disney Imagineering reportedly had a few more concepts for a water park (I really wonder what they were!), but the ski theme won everyone over after artist Tim Kirk created a drawing of an alligator character on skis (who later became Ice Gator).
Hopefully the snowy setting will trick your brain into not thinking about how hot it really is in the summer!
Walt Disney Imagineering creates detailed models for all the attractions they design. Here an Imagineer works on the model for Mount Gushmore and the Summit Plummet ride at Blizzard Beach. This picture is from a Fall 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine, featured in a story called "So You Want to Be an Imagineer?"
The Spring 1995 issue of The Disney Magazine had a nice story called "Surf's Up At New Disney "Ski" Resort" written by David J. Fisher about how Blizzard Beach was created. Fisher got the scoop from the folks that designed the park, including Eric Jacobson (senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering), Mark Gold (project engineer) and Kathy Rogers (show producer).
I'm not sure if the young alligators shown here (with Imagineers) have names.
Ice Gator has been known to greet visitors to Blizzard Beach. I'm guessing that his outfit is water-proof.
Ice Gator is fed well on a daily basis, so children can safely interact with this alligator.
Ice Gator has been featured on quite a bit of merchandise, including the ever-popular collectible pins.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park added its own alligator mascot, Lagoona Gator, in 1998 (basically a red surfer version of Ice Gator).
I found a "water and snowflake" filled Blizzard Beach tumbler at a store called Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama many years ago (much of the water has evaporated). If you have ever lost a suitcase, the bag and its contents may have been sent to Unclaimed Baggage Center. I've seen items from all over the world here, sold at a discounted price. Oprah Winfrey even did a show about the place.
If you ever visit Unclaimed Baggage Center, be sure to check out the mini-museum showcasing some of the unusual items discovered there. Fans of Jim Henson's "Labyrinth" film should get a kick out of seeing part of one of the puppets of the character Hoggle from the movie on display.