Magic Kingdom's Tom Sawyer Island, Part 1by MousePlanet Sponsor, contributing writer
Just saying that name immediately brings so many pictures to mind: The fence, assigned to him to be whitewashed due to some transgression on his part, but done by several friends fooled by Tom's cool con job; Tom's puppy love interest, Becky Thatcher and her indomitable father, the Judge; Tom and Becky's narrow escape from Injun Joe who was trying to take Tom out because he witnessed Joe's murder of an innocent Hannibal man; a funeral before its time; an aunt that meant well bedeviled by a boy that she just couldn't control; and Huck Finn, a friend that accepted Tom just the way he was.
Born from the imaginative pen of Mark Twain, the fictional Tom Sawyer, of course, lived in the town of Hannibal, Missouri. Tom lived for fun and frolic, yet had a heart for outcasts and sadsacks—no doubt because of their affinity with the orphan himself. He loved the mighty Mississippi River and the paddlewheelers that churned its chocolate brown waters.
All of the fun, romance, and adventure that Tom experienced can be experienced first–hand on the Magic Kingdom's Tom Sawyer Island. It's a fantastic place to explore and play. If you're a kid under the age of 203, I promise you will find something on the island that will tickle your fancy. Let's take a tour around the place in the first of a two–part series that looks at Tom Sawyer Island, in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
The raft carries park guests between “the mainland” and Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Getting over to the island from Frontierland requires a little jaunt on Tom's favorite mode of personal transportation… the raft.
A very stable mode of water transportation, the rafts are filled elbow to elbow most days. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Tom himself provides a “welcum” to his Neverland–like retreat just a few steps from the raft landing.
Tom's sign welcomes park guests to Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The map of the island, directly adjacent to Tom's “welcum” sign, shows the paths, bridges, buildings, and other things to see on the island.
A map provides park guests with a lay of the island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
First up is Harper's Mill.
Harper's Mill is located very near the raft landing on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
You can actually see a great view of the mill from the Frontierland side of the river.
Harper's Mill, on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Tom, ever the thoughtful host, provides a little insight about the mill's background.
The sign, again by Tom Sawyer, informs park guests that Harper's Mill used to be an old grist mill. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The waterwheel really turns…
Harper's Mill includes a water wheel. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Which makes the internal works really move.
The water wheel moves the gears located inside Harper's Mill. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Which one would think might endanger this poor feathered one. Fortunately, the nest and its occupants are not harmed.
Between one of the cogs in the gear is a bird's nest. Photo by Brian Bennett.
For those of you who are animation historians, you might remember the plight of the little bird family in the Silly Symphony, “The Old Mill.”
Just beyond the mill, actually quite close, is Hickory Switch Hill. I wonder why Tom called it that?
The sign on the right of the fence directs park guests to Hickory Switch Hill. Photo by Brian Bennett.
But continuing on along the lower path, we soon come across a very familiar looking fence. Looks like Tom's friends still have some work to do.
Only one section of the fence has been whitewashed, with the unpainted areas providing space for a little graffiti. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Just beyond the fence you can see Aunt Polly's place.
Aunt Polly's Place, another location on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
During the busier times of the year, you can purchase ice cream, sundaes, floats, snacks, and soda and enjoy your refreshment on Aunt Polly's porch.
A large gazebo and shaded area provide relief from the hot Florida sun at Aunt Polly's Place on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The local avians are not to be denied, either. If you're so inclined, you can subsidize the diet of the local duck population and reduce Walt Disney World's operating cost at the same time! As they say in Fantasyland… Be Our Guest!
For 75 cents, park guests can purchase pellets of duck food to feed the birds that hang out around Tom Sawyer Island and Rivers of America. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The view from Aunt Pollys is a great one. You can see all of the busy folks in Frontierland and Liberty Square while you're sitting and enjoying the shade.
Aunt Polly's Place on Tom Sawyer Island provides an expansive view of the far side of the river. Photo by Brian Bennett.
When the Liberty Belle Riverboat is at the landing, she's right across from Aunt Polly's…
Aunt Polly's Place on Tom Sawyer Island provides a perfect view of the Liberty Belle Riverboat. Photo by Brian Bennett.
…and the Haunted Mansion isn't far either.
Aunt Polly's Place on Tom Sawyer Island also provides a full frontal view of the Haunted Mansion attraction building, including its queue. Photo by Brian Bennett.
I think the saddest view from here, though, is the old keel boat landing. It's been years and years, but a spin around the Rivers of America on the keel boats was a bit more exciting than the more leisurely voyage on Liberty Belle. In fact, back then Liberty Belle had a different name, too. She was called the Richard F. Irvine back in those days. Irvine played an important part of Disney history, as he was one of the leaders in the construction Walt Disney World.
Aunt Polly's Place on Tom Sawyer Island also provides a good view of the old keel boat landing, where guests used to ride the now–defunct keel boats. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Two bridges, both of them a bit unusual, connect the various parts of the island. First, the barrel bridge provides a redundant route around Hickory Switch hill to Aunt Polly's.
Next to Aunt Polly's Place is a two–segmented barrel bridge for those who like a little pedestrian adventure. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The rope bridge provides a route over to the Northern end of the island.
In addition to a barrel bridge, Tom Sawyer Island also has this suspension bridge. Photo by Brian Bennett.
During the stroll over the bridge, the Haunted Mansion's family plot is visible.
The Haunted Mansion family plot is visible from the suspension bridge. Photo by Brian Bennett.
And just ahead is Fort Langhorn.
Fort Langhorn is located on Tom Sawyer Island. Photo by Brian Bennett.
We continue our look at Tom Sawyer Island, beginning with a step into Fort Langhorn. See you back here this Friday, in two days, for the rest of our tour.