Let’s take a trip back in time with this post.
Once upon a time, Walt Disney World operated a Welcome Center in Ocala, Florida. Sadly it is now just a memory for those who used to enjoy stopping there.
The Welcome Center was a gift shop and information center staffed by Disney Cast Members and employees of the Automobile Association of America.
The Welcome Center closed way back in the summer of 2006
Welcome Center History
The Welcome Center once was an integral part of Walt Disney World’s Florida outdoor advertising campaign geared towards motorists traveling down Interstate 75 and the Florida Turnpike towards Orlando.
The AAA sponsored Welcome Center was a great place for visitors traveling by car to Walt Disney World to get their first taste of the famous Disney Magic on their journey towards Orlando.
Back in the day, as you were driving south on Interstate 75 nearing Ocala you would have been seeing Walt Disney World billboards for the preceding half-hour and the kids would have been asking “When are we getting to Disney” for about twenty-nine minutes!
From Ocala you still had another hour and fifteen minutes to go!
The Welcome Center presented a great opportunity to stop stretch your legs and use some of the cleanest bathrooms on the interstate as well as shop for Disney souvenirs, get Disney info, and make Disney dining or hotel reservations.
After Disney closed the Welcome Center it went through several different tenants over the years. The last tenant didn’t even put up a sign, there were just a few cars parked in the lot.
The view towards the AAA counter where you could obtain Disney World information and park maps or schedules as well as make Disney dining or hotel reservations
The Welcome Center building isn’t even there now. It’s was torn down in 2012 to build a Hampton Inn and Suites. See this post with pictures.
Here is another history filled post on Walt Disney World’s outdoor advertising including the Ocala Welcome Center.
Do you remember the Disney Ocala Welcome Center? Share your memories in the comments section below!
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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