This episode is Part 1 of a two part "Tom Sawyer Island" vidcast. In Part 1, we'll take a detailed video tour of the entire island before the Pirates took it over. Explore caves, paths, bridges a tree house and much more. Most of the footage used in the video was taken around 2005-2006. If you listen carefully, you can hear the Laughing Stock Co. performing over at the Golden Horseshoe. This truly is a "sights and sounds home video tour" of one of Walt's beloved creations.
In Part 2, we'll explore all of the cool new features that make up "Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island". You won't want to miss that so please subscribe to the Bringing Disneyland Home Vidcast on iTunes and it will be downloaded automatically.
If you are interested in reading my script for this episode, please click the "read more" link below.
Walt Disney once said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re here in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” Encircled by Frontierland’s Rivers of America, forever apart from the larger crowds, sounds and happy distractions of Disneyland in general, Tom Sawyer Island is a good example of Walt’s success in this.
Walt drew from his early childhood memories of Missouri when he personally oversaw the design of “Tom Sawyer Island”. It’s loaded with many playful activities allowing young modern day Tom Sawyers, Huck Finns and Becky Thatchers to relive the days of America past and create new adventures.
From the first moment you step foot on the island you are faced with many choices. Should you take the pathway straight up the hill or turn right and head over to the old mill? Or maybe you should venture left up the trail along the river, or chance the dark entrance of the nearby cave. It’s this fun combination…total freedom of movement within an adventure-packed environment…that has made Tom Sawyer Island such a memorable experience down though the years.
On the island there are no lines, few rules or restrictions and kids can freely explore one site after another for as long as they want. The island has gone though several changes but even in this era of increased litigation, running, jumping and climbing are activities still welcomed on the island, and kids quickly out distance their more cautious parents. Tom Sawyer Island is big enough to get a little bit lost, and unsupervised access to caves, bridges, escape tunnels and secret passages lets each kid script his or her own exciting story.
When Disneyland opened in July 1955, only the forward section of Frontierland was developed. The public could walk as far as the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad freight station and the Swift’s Chicken Plantation House. It was during the first expansion in early 1956 that brought Walt’s ideas for the Island to reality. Opening ceremonies were held at noon on Saturday June 16, 1956 at the raft landing on the island. Two young guests, contestant winners from Hannibal Missouri, were on hand in costume as Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. With Walt’s help, the two kids from Mark Twain’s birthplace christened the raft with a jug of Mississippi water and planted a box of soil from Jackson’s Island in Hannibal Missouri near the foot of the landing Pier.
The sights and sounds of Tom Sawyer Island is pure Disney! Let’s spend some time exploring the islands many activities. It’s a great getaway from the crowed walkways of the mainland across the river.
Please make sure to check back here or Subscribe on iTunes so you don't miss Part 2, "Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island". See you soon!