Comparing Tom Sawyer Islands
Part of The Disney Distinct Series
People ask, how does one park, or one attraction compare to another? In this Disney Distinct Series, we compare parks, lands, attractions, event restaurants and shops from one park to another. How does the Adventurer’s hotel compare to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. How does Pirates of the Caribbean compare across all parks. Which park does the best popcorn? That’s the theme we play out in this series.
I have long wanted to, and long promised that I would do a podcast comparing all the Tom Sawyer Islands. This podcast delivers on that promise as we look at the original Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and then back to what it is at Disneyland today. This article builds off of other podcasts we’ve done, including those comparing park castles around the world and “it’s a small world” at parks across the globe.
For this podcast, we will use the following chart:
The island is largely conceived by Walt Disney himself, who decided to take the project home and bring back a sketch to Marvin Davis of what he thought the island should look like. From there we have what we know of as Tom Sawyer’s Island today. Note all of the elements below:
The early days celebrated Tom Sawyer’s Island with merchandise like this Donald Duck Tell-A-Tale Book.
This is the official map you see when you explore the island.
This park map is the most detailed of any on Tom Sawyer’s Island, but still does not convey what rock play elements there were.
Taking one of the rafts over to Tom Sawyer’s Island.
Here the Magic Kingdom has named its mill, after Imagineer Harper Goff.
Potter’s Mill is named after Tom and Huck’s friend who is framed for the death of Doc Robinson by Injun Joe.
Only the Magic Kingdom has Old Scratch’s Mystery Mine with jewels to be uncovered.
Pontoon or “barrel” bridge on the Rivers of America.
This bridge supports what is really two islands on Tom Sawyer’s Island. Although few if any story elements from Tom Sawyer can be found on the island where the fort is located.
The exception is here. Fort Langhorn is titled after the middle name of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, who wrote the story of Tom Sawyer.
Members of the calvary are busy taking care of shoeing the horses.
This gentleman is clearly in the brink sleeping matters off.
Take the time to sit back in rocking chair or play an old game of checkers while on the island.
A small boat awaits outside Wilson’s Cave Inn.
Let’s move on to Tokyo Disneyland. One of the challenges of this island is that it’s raft landing, and even much of the island is somewhat hidden away from view.
Here’s what guests receive as they head out to explore.
Tokyo has most all of the features you find on the other two islands. Still, there is a slight “pristine” look to the island. Note the paved but themed walkways, that are entirely free of any stain or blemish. It is one of the most unique
The only Castle Rock still found on any island. You can see a guest high above exploring.
Another view as you ascend Castle Rock Ridge.
This is Teeter Totter rock.
Rock outcroppings to explore.
Entrance to Fort Sam Clemens
Graveyard outside of the Fort.
Both the pontoon bridge and the suspension bridge.
An indian camp is available to explore. This one is friendly and permits entry. Another location is referred as “Indian Territory–Terms of Treaty Prohibit Entry.”
Fortunately here you can get a sense of how early American natives once lived.
The Tom Sawyer Island of today is a very different place than the early years of Disneyland. It has been greatly impacted by a thematic overlay focusing on Pirates of the Caribbean. Before that it took on the role as becoming the stage and support for Fantasmic!
Here is the stage for Fantasmic! which has a lot of details thematically covering show support and elements.
Castle Rock was turned into a ship-like-fort that guests can climb up into and survey Critter Country from across the water.
Tom and Huck still have a treehouse as well.
Within Smuggler’s Cove we find a Capstan Wheel, treasure…
Bilge Pumps and a Bone cage. Lots of interactivity…when it’s working.
Treasures await in the Pirate’s Den.
The fort is closed off to support Fantasmic! operations.
The original escape tunnel is still accessible.
The cabin still exists but it’s owned by Mike Fink now, and has a keelboat parked outside.
There’s Much More!
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