Not many people know that Disney owned a private-use airport right off the property close to the parks. The airport, which sits south of the Magic Kingdom Park and north of Epcot, next to World Drive.
In fact, Walt Disney’s plan for Epcot, (the original community, not the theme park) was for there to be a regional airport with 4 runways. After Walt’s passing, this plan never came to fruition. The later released plans for Epcot were significantly scaled-down and did not include the airport.
The old road is still accessible, just after the entrance to the parks – anyone can drive there and check it out. Walt Disney World Airport, which is also known as Lake Buena Vista Airport and Lake Buena Vista STOLport, operated until the 1980s, but it hasn’t been used for commercial flights ever since.
The short commute time was a big perk for guests able to afford the ticket price, but the best thing about landing at Lake Buena Vista Airport was the singing runway. Built to surprise passengers, the runway had grooves built into it like the ones you find on the side of the motorway, which played When You Wish Upon A Star from Pinocchio when a vehicle drove over it at 40mph, although it has been reported that the grooves were removed in 2008.
The small runway meant that the only planes able to fly in were short take-off and landing (STOL) planes operated by Shawnee Airlines. The idea was that the small airport would eventually make way for a much larger airport, but the idea never took off. Lake Buena Vista STOLport was ultimately scrapped after the theme park built a Monorail close to the runway, which meant planes were no longer able to land.
In 2004, the runway, taxiways, and ramp remained completely intact. The former runway was being used as a staging area for buses however, the Disney Airfield was no longer listed as an active airfield.
In 2006, the airstrip remained closed to the public but was still in use. During that time Disney would park buses, sea creates, and tractor-trailers on the runway and reports indicate the monorail has never been a problem. As a matter of fact, that same year an aircraft landed and took off after making its drop. A truck trailer was then immediately towed on to the runway to block any other aircraft from landing. This turned out to be the preparation team for President Bush’s visit to Walt Disney World. Others have reported that company executives would also land there on occasion during this time.
After 9/11, the airspace over Walt Disney World became “protected” by its very own no-fly zone, a “Temporary” Flight Restriction which has been in place for years.