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August 28, 2013
Peabody Ducks Marching Into History
One of Central Florida's most charming traditions and attractions is coming to an end. The Peabody ducks will soon fly the coop -- retiring to the animal farm where they were hatched.
Business is business, and Hyatt's $717 million move to buy the Peabody Orlando is a smart move on their part, but there are few traditions that bring a smile to people's faces like the daily march of the Peabody ducks to and from their rooftop chalet to the fountain in the lobby where they spend their day.
Hyatt, understandably wants to re-brand the hotel as the Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center by October First, when the deal closes. The experts say it will be a good move for the adjacent convention center, because now all of those businesses and people with Hyatt rewards points will be able to redeem them for convention stays.
Current owner, Belz Enterprises may be getting out of the hotel business (The former Peabody Little Rock was sold earlier this year)
And Hyatt is spending an impressive $437,000 a room for the 1,641-room hotel, which completed a pricey remodel and expansion in 2010 because of its location near the convention center.
But I have to be a little sad that In an area where history is mostly just decades old, the charming duck march will soon be gone.
While the tradition here dates back to the I-Drive landmark's opening in 1986, it started much earlier at the original Peabody in Memphis.
Peabody's web site claims that, after night of Jack Daniels after a hunting trip, then General Manager Frank Schutt thought it would be funny to put live English Call ducks in the fountain.
The idea caught on and, after switching to mallards, the hotel hired its first Duckmaster in 1940 to teach the ducks to march to and from the fountain each day.
The tradition lives on to this day in Memphis, and for another month or so, here in Orlando.
Good luck to the duckmaster. I hope the Peabody has a use for him somewhere else.
For now, you can see him lead the ducks march down the red carpet every morning at 11am -- and march back to the rooftop at 5pm.
Below is video of the march from our friends at Orlando Attractions Magazine.
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