Tom Sawyer Island
(May 20, 1973 - present)
History and photos of Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Tom Sawyer Island was more of a distant decoration and theming in Frontierland than it was an actual attraction.
That changed on May 20, 1973, when Tom Sawyer Island opened to the general public. Guests board one of four rafts (Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Becky Thatcher and Injun Joe) and sail across the Rivers of America to Tom's Landing boat dock. At that point it's up to the guests to explore the two islands and take a step back into the 1880s and the world of Mark Twain.
Tom Sawyer Island is primarily focused on Mark Twain's books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (published in 1875) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (published in 1885). Throughout the islands you'll find references to the books, the characters, the time period, and even the author himself.
After boarding a raft and sailing across the Rivers of America, we arrive at Tom's Landing. A second boat dock, Huck's Landing, used to serve as a departure point from the island, but that dock is no longer used today. These days both arriving at and departing from Tom Sawyer's Island takes place at Tom's Landing.
The south island has a couple of caves, a small playground on top of a hill, a barrel bridge, Harper's Mill, Potter's Mill, and Aunt Polly's counter-service restaurant. Aunt Polly's eventually changed its name to Aunt Polly's Dockside Inn as it became a seasonal restaurant. By 2006 the restaurant had closed though its structure still remains. The gazebo at Aunt Polly's provides plenty of shade while the chairs provide a relatively quiet spot even during the busiest of days.
On the south island you'll find Old Scratch's Mystery Mine. Originally called the Magnetic Mystery Mine, deep inside the mine you'll find a couple of optical illusions. The chamber with the mineral is particularly interesting. The chunk of mineral itself makes a strange humming sound, and a small stream of water appears to be flowing uphill towards the mineral. Later in the mine, another underground chamber appears to grow smaller as we walk towards the end of it. Or we're growing taller with each step. What in the world is going on in this mine?
You'll also find Injun Joe's Cave on the south island. A sign left behind by Tom Sawyer claims that it's safe to go inside of the cave as Injun Joe hasn't been spotted there in a while, but you never know. This cave is darker and spookier than Old Scratch's Mystery Mine. One of the chambers involves us crossing a wooden bridge while we hear bats squeaking overhead. Another chamber has what looks like a giant skull, complete with glowing eyes.
After crossing the Superstition Bridge suspension bridge you'll be on the north island. The dominant feature on the north island is Fort Langhorn (formerly known as Fort Sam Clemens; both names are for Mark Twain), an old army cavalry fort. Inside the fort you'll find a blacksmith shop complete with a few animatronic characters. When you climb the stairs and venture into the upper parts of the fort you'll find an assortment of rifles and cannons, enough weaponry to fight off an Indian attack. Pull the triggers on the rifles and you'll hear them fire. At the back of the fort is a staircase that leads to the secret escape tunnel. This tunnel simply takes you to a side exit by the river, but take note that it's very dark in the cave and some people may find the layout somewhat confusing.
The north island used to feature a burning cabin. The cabin was continually burning after suffering from an Indian attack. Sadly, this classic part of the island was removed in 2005.
Tom Sawyer Island is a classic part of the Magic Kingdom and an absolute must for young kids and everybody who likes to get out and explore the world. Take note that this attraction closes at dusk, so make plans on visiting it before the later parts of the afternoon.
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