General Joe Potter Ferryboat Returns from Multi-Month Refurbishment with All-New Paint Scheme

The General Joe Potter ferryboat is cruising the Seven Seas Lagoon once again following a multi-month refurbishment. The Potter went back to the dry dock for refurbishment in late March and officially returned to service this weekend just in time for the typically-busy Fourth of July holiday. Also, General Joe Potter is the only ferryboat that Disney World utilizes for the Ferrytale Fireworks event that will return July 12th.

General Joe Potter before 2023 refurbishment

Major General William E. “Joe” Potter

William E. “Joe” Potter was an engineering and logistical planning genius, which is why Walt Disney recruited the retired United States Army major general to oversee the early construction of Walt Disney World in Florida. In this role, Joe ably guided the Herculean task of transforming 300 acres of Florida land into the Magic Kingdom, while also preserving the area’s ecology and beauty.

During World War II, he directed logistical planning for the invasion of northern France, an operation nicknamed “Red Ball Express.” After the war, he served in Washington, D.C. as assistant chief of engineers for Civil Works and Special Projects.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Joe to serve as governor of the Panama Canal Zone. In that role, he was responsible for governing a community of over 40,000 people, as well as services including education, military, public health, medical care, fire and police protection, and the postal system. At the end of his tenure as governor, and after 38 years with the United States Army, Joe retired in 1960. In his long career, he had been decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Croix de Guerre

Soon after his “retirement,” he became executive vice president of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, charged with construction of the federal and state attractions. These included 26 state pavilions and the $17-million United States pavilion.

During this time he met Walt Disney, joining the Company in 1965 as its vice president of Florida Planning. In that role, Joe oversaw construction of the Park’s entire infrastructure; this included underground utilities and sewer, power, and water treatment plants that were considered revolutionary at the time. He also developed drainage canals for the entire property, which were known as “Joe’s ditches.”

At the time of his second “retirement” in 1974, Joe was serving as vice president for EPCOT Planning and senior vice president of Walt Disney World Co. In this role, he was responsible for construction, operation, and administration of the entire Florida project. He also served as president of the Board of Supervisors of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was formed by the Florida Legislature to provide the public services necessary for the tourist and residential population at Walt Disney World. To many, Joe was known as “Mister Disney” because of his liaison work between the park and surrounding community during the 1960s and 1970s.

Joe passed away on December 5, 1988, in Orlando, Florida. One of the ferries that transports Walt Disney World guests across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom was later re-christened the General Joe Potter in his honor.

General Joe Potter Ferryboat

General Joe Potter returns with a green paint scheme with golden accents to match the color rank of General instead of the blue paint scheme that it had previously. It is rumored that when the Admiral Joe Fowler ferryboat goes in for a dry dock refurbishment in the future, the Fowler will receive the blue paint scheme that the Potter used to have. The Richard F. Irvine ferryboat has a red color scheme. Before we get too deep into Disney World watercraft history, let’s take a look at the completely refreshed General Joe Potter!

General Joe Potter ferryboat – lower level
General Joe Potter ferryboat – upper level
General Joe Potter ferryboat – portrait
General Joe Potter ferryboat

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