In the middle of the Rivers of America at Disneyland Resort lays Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (previously just Tom Sawyer Island) where Guests of all ages can ferry over and enter into a whole new world where you never have to grow up and you can retrace the steps of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn when they ran away to live carefree lives as pirates. This little island isn’t usually too crowded as most Guests are busy trying to catch the attractions on the “main land”, however you will get to experience a whole new part of the park just by catching a log raft.
On Pirate’s Lair at Tom Sawyer Island you can wander quiet paths shaded by sycamore and oak trees and enjoy really gorgeous views of the riverbanks. You will have the chance to show your bravery as you cross creaky suspension bridges in Smuggler’s Cove, explore the haunted caves of Dead Man’s Grotto, and climb through a fort built by the frontier’s early settlers. I have not yet had a chance to explore the haunted caves of Dead Man’s Grotto yet, but rumor is that you can hear Davy Jones’s heart beating in the chest!
The island was first opened to Guests back in 1956 and was designed entirely by Walt Disney himself. According the Disneyland website, “Walt revered Mark Twain’s novels and wanted the island to reflect the world Twain conjured in his stories. Days before construction began, he took the plans home and reimagined the design, creating the inlets, coves and atmosphere the island is known for today.”
No major updates were made to island until 2007 when the island was renamed “Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.” The Pirates re-theming took out much of the previous Tom Sawyer theme in favor of characters and elements from and inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The reason some Tom Sawyer connections still remain on the island was justified through chapters in the original book where Tom and Huck enjoyed playing pirate games on the island so it all kind of just works!
While the Pirates of the Caribbean re-theme does make sense due to the park ever evolving to incorporate new characters and to keep things fresh, it’s nice that some aspects of the Tom Sawyer theme still remains. Walt revered Mark Twain’s novels and wanted the island to reflect the world Twain conjured in his stories. It’s nice to have some remains of something Walt Disney himself imagined up! If you want to check out what the original Tom Sawyer’s Island was like before the Pirates re-theme, you can check it out the original design at Magic Kingdom since their island has not been updated.
Have you been to Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyers Island at Disneyland? Tell us your favorite thing to do on the island in the comments!
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