Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
I remember as a child many happy hours spend running around Tom Sawyer's Island. I remember searching for Injun Joe's cave and other hideouts. The frightening swaying bridges and other places to run and play were a place of joy and laughter. Gone are many of the caves and other hysterical historical elements. Fort Wilderness was closed, torn down and rebuilt never to reopen for guests. Still this area is a great place to bring kids of all ages in need of a place to run free after hours of confinement in lines. There is only one wan on and off the island so parents don't fret. You can find a place to relax near the raft dock and wait while the kids that are old enough run around. I know my mom waited for me near the dock knowing I could get in little trouble (she knew I would follow the rules) and I could not get off the island without her seeing me.

The Island was originally themed on the classic Mark Twain character, Tom Sawyer. As the years have gone by fewer children know the story of Tom and Huck and their exciting adventures. The theme was changed to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme in 2007 due to the overwhelming success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. You may ask how can the two themes exist together. It is an easy mix if you remember that the Pirates of the Caribbean often came into Louisiana and sometimes went up the Mississippi River. Tom and Huck had some adventures with pirates in their books so it does fit.

I feel the pirate theme adds a lot of appeal to the old island. You may get to see Captain Jack and sometimes there is a pirate band playing at the landing.

Discover a rustic island overrun by thick wilderness foliage ... and pirate treasure! Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island recalls the plucky adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn when they ran away to a remote island to live the carefree life of a pirate. Sail across the Rivers of America on a raft, wander forest trails, explore secret hideouts and brave mysterious caves rumored to contain cursed treasures left by generations of greedy rogues.


In a lush setting reminiscent of the Missouri wilderness, you'll encounter numerous landmarks that are perfect for pirate adventures:

·         Enter, if you dare, a dark and foreboding cavern haunted by ghastly apparitions inside Dead Man's Grotto.

·         Get a scenic view from atop the secret hideout of Tom and Huck's Tree House.

·         Bounce across a rope bridges and uncover hidden secrets in Smuggler's Cove.

·         Climb to the peaks of Castle Rock or descend below the surface to find a subterranean treasure trove.

·         Unearth a mass of pirate loot at the Treasure Dig.

·         Inspect the ingenious gears and inner workings of the Blacksmith Shop.

Hours of Operation

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island closes at dusk to protect your cargo from wanton acts of piracy.


The area opened in 1956, one year after the opening of Disneyland Park.

Prior to the debut of Fantasmic! in 1992, when the south end of the Island was re-built to facilitate the nighttime show, Tom Sawyer Island saw very little change. The Island received major upgrades, new show elements, and a complete re-theming in 2007 when it re-opened as Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. The re-theming eradicated much of the previous Tom Sawyer theme in favor of characters and elements from and inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island's opening coincided with the theatrical release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Geography and features

Guests visit the island, surrounded by the Rivers of America, by traveling on a motorized raft which is piloted by a Disneyland cast member.

While aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia or Mark Twain Riverboat, Disneyland guests travel clockwise around the island. Looking to starboard, they can see the many areas and adventure opportunities of the island. To port, they see Disneyland itself and from time to time will see a Disneyland Railroad train passing by. At the northern end of the island, inaccessible to guests, is the Burning Settler's Cabin, a cabin that used to actually burn by spewing fire from its roof. Despite guest complaints, the park no longer ignites the roof of the cabin with propane each time a watercraft passes by. The Walt Disney World version lasted until 2006, where the pipes (the originals from 1971) were damaged by age and being turned off while the Riverboat was under "rehab".

Over the years, there have been theme changes to the cabin itself: originally, it was said to have been set afire by a hostile native tribe. This storyline was eventually changed due to complaints from Native American guests, so it was said to have been the home of a moonshiner who had fallen into a drunken stupor when he should have been minding his still; later, after the live flames were eliminated, the fire was described (at least in the Mark Twain steamboat narration) as the result of unspecified carelessness, and as having left not only the cabin's owner homeless, but also some of the local wildlife.

The most prominent structure on the island, viewable from Frontierland, Adventureland and New Orleans Square, is Lafitte's Tavern, which was formerly Harper's Mill.

The Landing

Many a pirate's boot has trod upon this slip of land. And many's the adventure begun here. Keep your wits about you in your travels on the island, for there's treasure and danger here in equal measure. X Marks the spot you seek. Good luck, matey!

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

The Landing on the island consists of a small dock in which the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island travel to from the mainland. Guests exit the raft here, and then guests waiting in the dock's small switchback queue enter the raft to travel back to the mainland.

Lafitte's Tavern - Pirate Point

Here be a safe harbor from all manner of storms. A wild and boisterous place, no doubt, but a place to learn the ways of the sea and the arts of the master sailors.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Lafitte's Tavern is the former Harper's Mill which has been part of Walt Disney World's Tom Sawyer Island since its inception. The outside walls and porch of Lafitte's Tavern features various swords and the salty pirates visiting this place are asked to stow their weapons outside. Despite the Explorer's Map's lively description of the place, Guests cannot actually enter the Tavern.

The small pirate stunt show takes place on the stage area in front of the Tavern, and between shows The Bilge Rats, a band of pirate musicians entertain guests with lively sea chanteys.

W. Turner Blacksmith

The tools of me trade are forged in iron with fire and smoke. Give me a length of steel in one hand and a fair wind to guide me. Aye, there's nothing better - and nothing more a pirate needs.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

W. Turner Blacksmith features props and show elements reminiscent of the blacksmith shop from Pirates of the Caribbean" The Curse of the Black Pearl in which the character of Will Turner is introduced.

Dead Man's Grotto

The Dead Man's Chest in Dead Man's Grotto, part of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Tread carefully these dark and winding caves. Though none will argue there be treasure here in great abundance, ghostly apparitions do haunt these corridors of stone. And every jewel is guarded well by forces none may know.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Formerly Injun Joe's Cave, Dead Man's Grotto infuses more of the Pirates of the Caribbean film mythology into Tom Sawyer Island. The cave features several prominent interactive elements that feature state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology. The first thing guests will note is that Captain Jack Sparrow has left a note of caution for explorers above the entry. The first major interactive feature guests will encounter is the Chest of Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Upon touching the chest, lighting will change, Davy Jones' disembodied voice will utter words of warning, and guests will be able to feel the heartbeat of Jones' heart from within the chest. Skeletons of previous explorers and pirates litter the pits of the cave, implying danger to those who continue to press onward.

Additional features in the cave include "pop-up" gags featuring Pintel and Ragetti from the Pirates of the Caribbean films who are guarding cursed treasure as well as other effects featuring disappearing treasure and a genie in a bottle guarding treasure.

The end of the Dead Man's Grotto cave features an Audio-Animatronics figure of a cursed pirate prisoner. The pirate's cursed state is in reference to the first Pirates film, but is not representative of any specific character or scene. The cursed pirate comes alive in seemingly random intervals, warning onlookers of the danger of the cursed treasure, asking for help, or sometimes dealing threats. A small, high-up window in the prisoner's cell will occasionally reveal a full moon through the clouds in a dark night sky, which transforms the prisoner into his cursed, undead form.

Smuggler's Cove

Here be the site of many a dark deed by moonlight. And in these waters, who can tell how much plundered coin lies below in the hold of scuttled ships? And who can tell what forces guard these treasures still?

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Smuggler's Cove is a remnant of the original Tom Sawyer Island, however, has been changed dramatically for the Pirate's Lair makeover. The area now appears to be the site of the wreck of a small sailing vessel which was carrying much pirate loot. Smuggler's Cover features several interactive play features including:

·         Capstan Wheel: When turned by eager explorers, the capstan wheel hoists a treasure chest out of the watery wreckage, with the skeletal remains of a pirate still holding onto his beloved treasure.

·         Bilge Pumps: Bilge pumps allow guests to pump out some of the water from the flooded ship, revealing skeletons of long-dead pirates still guarding their treasure in their watery grave.

·         Bone Cage: The bone cage serves as a photo-op for guests and is a smaller replica of the bone cages featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest feature film.

·         Suspension Bridge: The suspension bridge is an element from the original Tom Sawyer Island, and crosses overhead, above the bilge pumps and bone cage feature.

·         Pontoon Bridge: Rocking and splashing in the water, the pontoon bridge crosses the water for daring explorers near the capstan wheel wreckage.

Castle Rock

The treacherous shoals what surround the island have claimed many a fair vessel and her crew. Here lie broken beams and planks, worn and weathered to serve as memorial, shelter, and lookout perch alike. While below, 'tis said, there lies a king's ransom, hid in some dark passageway, too narrow for most to navigate.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Castle Rock is a large rock structure which features stationary telescopes, giving guests views of specific scenery and points of interest back on the Frontierland and Critter Country mainland. The area was mostly unchanged during the Pirate's Lair re-theme, and only features a couple of hidden pirate chests and themed barrels bearing the East India Trading Company stamp.

Pirate's Den - Shipwreck

No fearsome storm did leave this shipwreck high upon the rocks at Pirate's Den, they say. T'was something monstrous that stirred the sea that day and tore this mighty ship in twain.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

That official description of the Shipwreck alludes to the Kraken creature featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The shipwreck is a minor feature, only being a small walk-through feature with no interactive elements. Inside the Shipwreck, Davy Jones' ghostly voice can be heard whispering warnings to those who dare inspect the wreckage. The inside of the wreckage features more state-of-the-art LED lighting design, similar to what is seen on a larger scale in Dead Man's Grotto. The wreckage is littered with barnacles, a skeleton, weaponry, and other features from a pirate ship.

The Captain's Treasure

Somewhere beyond Smuggler's Cove and Castle Rock, a fabulous treasure lies. Steady as you go, mates - for it be guarded by the fiercest of pirates. Gather your knowledge of the island well, for all who happen upon this treasure shall be asked to account for themselves. Them what pleases the guards, they say, may be allowed to join the pirate brotherhood and take the solemn oath.

— Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

The Captain's Treasure is a large mound of loot at the furthest end of the Island accessible to guests. The area is a photo-op in which guests can pose with the mound of treasure, and often Captain Jack Sparrow can be found posing for photos with guests.

Tom & Huck's Tree House

Tom and Huck's Tree House is the only major guest-accessible feature on the Island not to be notably featured on the Explorer's Map of Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. The Tree House is a remnant of the original Tom Sawyer Island theme, and is arguably now irrelevant in regards to the Island's pirate theme. The Tree House was mostly unchanged during the Pirate's Lair re-theme, except for a couple of small pirate additions themed to appear as though Tom and Huck made them in the tree house.

Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness is an original 1956 feature of Tom Sawyer Island. Previously a guest-accessible feature of the island, Fort Wilderness was closed after the island re-opened from a refurbishment in 2003. In 2007 Disney demolished the original 1956 Fort Wilderness due to long-neglected termite and weather damage. A new Fort Wilderness was constructed; however, instead of being constructed with authentic hand-hewn logs, it was built with standard milled lumber. As of June 2008, the new Fort Wilderness is still incomplete. The new Fort Wilderness will not be accessible to guests, and will instead house break rooms for island Cast Members and performers.

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You can find for all formats at

And for the Nook at

It is also available at the ITunes store for IPod, IPad and IPhone

It soon will be up at other sites such as Amazon

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