Sunday, October 15, 2006

Visiting Tom Sawyer Island

While at Disneyland, we decided to check out Tom Sawyer Island, a narrow island set in the middle of the Rivers of America, the large body of water that borders Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country. It's been a Disneyland staple since 1957.

Aerial photography of Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island. (Date unknown)

Normally, this attraction is not on our agenda, since it's only accessible by boat, not to mention that Tom Sawyer Island isn't exactly one of the most thrilling parts of the park. But rumors have been buzzing lately that Disneyland is going to reconstruct the entire attraction with a Jack Sparrow theme in time for the release of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

You can only get there by "raft." (10/15/06)

In the event that plan came to fruition, we wanted to see it once more in its original state.

Of course, when Disney floats any major expansion idea, it creates huge debates among Disney fans. On one hand, you get the preservationists, who argue, that Tom Sawyer Island is sacred ground due to the fact that it is the last remaining attraction that was designed by Walt Disney himself.

The Mark Twain River Boat passes by. (10/15/06)

Then you get the other half that says that if Walt Disney were still alive, that he would want to update it, which is proved by the fact that Walt Disney himself tore-down older rides and replaced them with newer ones, some several times over. I typically agree with the latter.

The Pirate's Den on Tom Sawyer Island. (10/15/06)

It had been a few years since we were there. We probably go around it more often than we go on it, since the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes each go around the island. The island was exactly as I remembered it, with caves galore, rope and pontoon bridges, and dozens of things to climb. It's definitely meant for small kids, I realized as I squeezed my way through the small treehouse.

Fort Wilderness was closed. (10/15/06)

The only major bummer was the fact that the Fort Wilderness, "the last outpost of civilization at the end of Wilderness Trail," was closed. I remember being inside there the last time I was on the island several years back.

Incidentally, I found some interesting facts while researching Tom Sawyer Island. Like in August 1970, it was briefly taken over by anti-Vietnam-war hippies who raised the Viet Cong flag on the flagpole. And more bizarre is the claim that Tom Sawyer Island was annexed by Walt Disney's home state of Missouri, making Disneyland the only theme park that is in two states. I'm not so sure if the latter is true. I need to research it further.

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