Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Tom Sawyer Island, April 1967

I love today's pair of photos! They were both taken on Tom Sawyer Island, a place that is brilliant in its simplicity. The fact that you have to take a raft to get there is genius… it really is an island, isolated from the rest of the park by a broad green river. I was a reader when I was a kid, and the stories of Mark Twain made me wish that I had a place to explore - a place with caves and hideaways, forts and tree houses.

Tom Sawyer Island felt like that place; I remember the first time I went through the caves, and felt a bit apprehensive. What if I got lost, like Injun Joe? Following the paths, one wondered what was around the next bend. Hey, a swaying suspension bridge! Cool!

Kids were encouraged to climb the rock formations - it was irresistible. The best thing was when your parents stayed down below and let you go up by yourself. This kid knows what I'm talking about.

Over at Castle Rock, guests followed the winding trail up to the peak. I wish the kid on top had pointed his rear end some other direction, but hey, he's a daredevil. When you think about it, he could have slipped and really hurt himself! I've never heard of any accidents of that sort. In today's litigious world, it's no wonder that features like this had to be removed. Believe it or not, I haven't been back to the island since it became the "Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island", seven years ago.


K. Martinez said...

This is a great pair of photos. The second image is pretty funny.

There was one spot on Tom Sawyer Island where I was injured a few times over the years. It was in Fort Wilderness where I would whack the top of my head on a to-short doorway. I remember it being extremely painful, enough to visit the Disneyland nurse. Surprisingly I never whacked my head on the "mine thy head" branch on the Swiss Family Treehouse. Nice unusual set today. Thanks, Major.

MRaymond said...

Being afraid of heights as a kid, climbing castle rock freaked me out but I did it. Great pictures

Melissa said...

What beautiful, clear shots! Just what I needed on this dark, freezing, snowy day!

I remember the first time I went into the caves on Tom Sawyer Island - I was just impressionable enough to feel like I might get lost, but not quite impressionable enough to be truly afraid at the prospect. The adventure level was just right!

The blue sky makes these images ripe for adding new backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

TSI was the best. My parents were pretty ok with letting me run around by myself from a pretty young age. I'm guessing 7-8. Probably because I couldn't get off the island.

They would sit on a bench near the landing and wait till I came around. Good time for them to rest, but I remember my Dad climbing Castle Rock with me, also the treehouse.

I lived by a river bank as a boy, so there were plenty of opportunities to get hurt right close to home, TSI was familiar territory, I guess. Another reason for M+D not to worry.

It seems so sanitized now, but today's kids have no idea what fun is anymore, so they probably don't realize what they are missing.


Anonymous said...

@Ken, Like you, I hit my head in that same spot in the Fort. Also, there was a spot in the caves which dinged me most trips.

Good times.


Anonymous said...

JG, your memories of parents sitting on the other bank of the river mirror mine. We'd agree on a time when I would return, but I think I was always late because I was having too much fun.


Alonzo P Hawk said...

Kids climbing on rocks with safety harnesses and signed parental waivers. These photos must be old the kids are actually having fun!!!!!

It's only a matter of time before the anti-fun police (CalOSHA) make TSI an eyesore full of safety rails, padded corners and danger do not enter signs.

MrPeabody loan me your wayback machine so I can visit 1967.

tviano said...

Did the Fort have mounted rifles you could use to "shoot" invaders with? I seem to remember that being a feature. I seem to remember letting few survivors pass on the steam ship ride around the island if I was in the Fort.

Pirate's Lawyers Island did have some excellent features for my kids. The caves were absolutely terrifying and they were bound and determined to get as many fake gold coins (all welded/glued together in a huge mound) they could. They never succeeded since I kept pushing them out of the way . . .

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, you should have SUED the Disney Company! For zillions of dollars!

MRaymond, I'm not crazy about heights either, but somehow Castle Rock was OK.

Melissa, while I don't want freezing snow, I wish it was a bit more wintery here… I needed the air conditioner in the car. Meanwhile, I love your "chroma key" idea!

JG, it is true, when I think back on it, I'm amazed I didn't accidentally kill myself during my childhood. My and my friends took some stupid chances on stuff. I suppose that kids' definition of what is fun has changed a lot over the years… the island is still fun, I'm sure, just in a different way. I probably would have loved the pirate stuff when I was eight.

JG, just think of how many others bonked their heads on that same spot every day!

KS, my folks always wanted to come with us… I think it was less about keeping an eye on us and more about wanting to see what was there.

Alonzo, don't give the Disney lawyers any ideas!

tviano, they did have rifles that you could aim and pretend to shoot; at some point a little girl somehow slipped while her finger was on the trigger and she actually lost the finger. This was probably at least 10 years ago. Talk about a freak accident! A pencil can be a deadly object if misused, I suppose. Let's ban all of them!

Chuck said...

The fort did have rifles in the blockhouses (or maybe it was just one blockhouse - memory's slightly hazy on this one). You'd pull the trigger, and they would shoot out a loud, sharp burst of air. Not only did they sound like a (toy) gun shot, they also would push nearby foliage out of the way, making it look like you'd actually fired a gun.

According to Yesterland, a 6-year-old girl lost most of a finger when she slipped while playing with one of the guns in January 2001, with the blockhouse(s) boarded up almost immediately afterwards. They did not reopen for the remainder of the time the building remained standing.

The rifles still fire at Ft Wilderness' younger brother, Ft Langhorne, on WDW's TSI, although they do not have trigger guards, presumably to avoid a repeat finger loss incident.

Great memories, Major. Thanks for posting!

Chuck said...

Whoops - looks like I was writing my response as you were writing yours, Major. Sorry about that. On the positive side, they say it's good to repeat information if you really want to make a point stick in your audience's minds.

Whoops - looks like I was writing my response as you were writing yours, Major. Sorry about that. On the positive side, they say it's good to repeat information if you really want to make a point stick in your audience's minds.