If you've ever been to Walt Disney World or Epcot Center, you've probably wondered how everything gets coordinated. There's a lot of digital stuff today, of course, but back in the day, the answer was "radio." A former Walt Disney World radio shop staff member explains ...
Although some departments were not ready to deal with Florida weather, it was a different story in the entertainment division. Remember those afternoon rain showers? Although the Magic Kingdom (MK) parade started every day at 3:00 p.m., the rainstorms were frequently small and fast-moving. To their credit, a Walt Disney World (WDW) parade has never stepped off without a weather radar rainstorm check first. Until 1992 or 1993, a weather radar was located at the Contemporary site. One of the radio techs from California was hired for his background in military and FAA radar to maintain this equipment. It was finally shut down when parts got hard to find. By that time, online weather radar services were available to replace it. The radar warning sign on the roof access door actually lasted a lot longer than the radar did.
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Dispatch points at Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, Epcot and other backstage support areas used 2-wire DC control, usually from a beige-colored desk telephone style remote control unit (see photo). Dispatch points included ride control positions, parade control points, transportation dispatch points, hotel housekeeping offices, reservation offices, maintenance shops, security offices, operation centers, and more.
Accessing these locations could be interesting. Not all could be reached without going through guest areas. Ride dispatch points might be accessible only by crossing through ride vehicles while carrying tools, etc. or by crossing the ride track directly. Good timing and a nimble step were necessary.