A Mississippi Sternwheeler on the Buena Vista Lagoon
The Empress Lilly was named after Walt Disney’s wife and was an authentic re-creation of a 220-foot 19th-century paddle-wheeler decorated in Louis XV style. It opened on May 1, 1977 and was christened by Lillian Disney. It had several different dining options and lounges. The Starboard Lounge had appetizers such as chicken liver pate, sauteed crab meat, oysters and clams. There were also after dinner drinks such as Buena Vista Coffee and Starboard Coffee. The Promenade Lounge was located above The Starboard Lounge and was more of a sitting area.
Special events included “Monday Night Huddles” that were held from September to December of 1980. Members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would discuss the previous day’s game, show play-by-plays and respond to questions from the audience before the Monday night game was show on a large screen. There was also a character breakfast in the morning. It was one of the few character breakfasts during the park’s early years (seatings were at 9 and 10:30 a.m.) and kids that attended would receive a certificate or a pennant. In addition to memorabilia from the breakfast, there was an Empress Lilly coin produced as well as some buttons and pins.
The boat closed on April 22, 1995 and reopened as a Levy Restaurant called Fulton’s Crab House on March 10, 1996. Some changes once Fulton’s took over was that the smokestacks and paddle wheel were removed and a gaudy sign was added on to the boat. In early 2016, Fulton’s closed for refurbishment and reopened in the fall of 2016 as Paddlefish. The paddle wheel and smokestacks back on the boat.
(Thanks to Debi Q for this Character Breakfast ticket from 1990. A child ticket cost $6.50.)
Not sure where to start your search for a Caribbean villa rental?
Contact a CaribbeanDays villa specialist today! Having visited each and every Caribbean island many times, our specialist can guide you in choosing the right island and villa for your getaway. Fill out the form below to contact a specialist and get started.