Unlike many of the Magic Kingdom's attractions, the history of the Plaza Swan Boats is shrouded in mystery. While the Plaza Swan Boats would eventually open in in 1973 (supposedly), the attraction seems to have been originally intended as an opening day attraction. Herb Ryman concept art from 1970, and the Paul Hartley map of the Magic Kingdom both feature references to the attraction. Although non-operational on Opening Day, the Plaza Swan Boat's original loading dock could be seen just outside of the [[Plaza Ice Cream Parlor]].
The Plaza Swan Boats opened on May 20, 1973 on Main Street USA. These elegantly shaped boats allowed guests to take a leisurely tour around the Magic Kingdom's canals. Traveling clockwise, the boats would tour the Hub, and also jet out for a lap around The Swiss Family Treehouse. While aboard, guests would be treated to a live narration of the sights that could be seen from the crafts.
While Disney has always stated that the opening of the Plaza Swan Boats came in 1973, photographic evidence seems to indicate that the attraction actually ran in 1972, from its original dock. This version of the Plaza Swan Boats may have run on an underwater electrical guidance system, that was rumored to have been replaced with the jet guidance system that the 1973 version of the Swan Boats opened with. Based on photographs of the time, it also appears as if the Swan Boats originally traveled counter clockwise around the hub.