Monday, August 01, 2016

On Tom Sawyer Island, January 1963

With all of the changes going on in Frontierland, I find that vintage photos now evoke a different reaction than they used to. Tom Sawyer Island will be reduced in size, and some features will be gone forever, though it is unclear at this point what will still be there in a year. 

Tom and his friends built an excellent treehouse - for a short while it was the highest point in Disneyland! Of course by 1963 the Matterhorn had surpassed it; but it was still the stuff of dreams for a lot of kids, and likely a few grownups too. I know that I always wished I had a cool treehouse when I was young!

I'm assuming that many of the rock formations will remain. The settler's cabin has been removed... will another one be built in a new location? Will the Frankenfort that is not open to the public be replaced with one that we can explore? It'll be interesting to see!


Nanook said...


Other then the addition of a sweater, evidently to "battle the elements", our miss in the second image has decided to conform to the old adage of the proper dress for ladies: "Basic black and a string of pearls... a girl can't go wrong" ...even when visiting the Tom Sawyer Island. it's the perfect outfit for cave explorin'-!

And do you really think 'the powers that be' would replace the fort with one equipped for exploring, when they can just as easily build 'another shopping opportunity'-? Or maybe an 'exclusive' dining experience-?

Thanks, Major.

Graffer said...

Walt designed the Tom Sawyer Island shape himself when he was unsatisfied with Marc Davis' designs.

Now, it too has been desecrated from within.

Death by a thousand cuts...

Unknown said...

I'm holding out hope for a rebuild of the fort. The opportunity is there with the need for Fantasmic! cast and costuming need being displaced. "Hope springs eternal in the human breast...". And make it out of wood, not stucco!

DrGoat said...

Back in the 60s, my friend and I were running around the island and my friend banged his head in that very tunnel. Lots of blood and a headache for the next several hours. One of those Disney moments you never forget.

K. Martinez said...

What I'm real curious about is if they'll be able to operate both the Mark Twain and the Columbia on the same day with the shortened Rivers of America or if it will be either the Mark Twain or Columbia that is running on alternating separate days. Most of the time I went both ships were up and running together. Time will tell. Nice photos! Thanks, Major.

Nanook, I'm thinking more along the lines of Fort Dream Suite!

K. Martinez said...

Dr. Goat, I've banged my head so badly like your friend did on TSI so many times. It would be so bad that it usually required a visit to the first aid station for two hours. And it was PAINFUL! Strangely I never hit my head on the "Mind Thy Head" spot on Swiss Family Treehouse.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, spelunkers have discovered that the very best way to explore mysterious caves is basic black and a string of pearls. Clearly that lady has done her research! And you’re right, I can’t see the Disney folks being able to resist a shop full of generic merch.

Graffer, don’t you know that Walt said, “Disneyland will never be completed…. (etc, etc)”? Now that simple statement has been used as justification for everything.

Patrick Devlin, to be honest, I am not expecting a rebuilt fort to be added to the island; if they do build one, I’ll be very happy!

DrGoat, OUCH. I know I’ve grazed my noggin in those caves and tunnels, even when I thought I was being careful. Must have happened to people 100 times a day!

K. Martinez, I would think that if they slowed down the Twain and Columbia a little bit it would work OK, but as you said, only time will tell. That dumb Dream Suite in NOS is bad enough, don’t give them any ideas!

Anonymous said...

I have a picture that my Dad took of me on that same landing, then years later, I took a picture of my son right in the same spot, then he took another of old, fat me in the same pose as 50 years before.

It's a shame to lose the old TSI, but new things will take it's place. It's an open debate whether or not I will like them.

I also have several dents in my noggin from the low-hanging concrete in the various caves and hide-aways. Can't have that these days.


Tom said...

At this point I'm holding out great hope for the new land and what opportunities it will bring for exploration.

While I never got a chance to visit Fort Wilderness as a child, during our family's visit last December we made it a point to explore every possible inch of Tom Sawyer's (or whatever it's called) island and absorb all the goodness there. We got a lot of pictures. I know a lot will be gone... but a lot of new great stuff is coming and, if newer things like the Temple of the Forbidden Eye or Cars Land is any indication, they'll do a good job of making it worthy of the Disneyland name.

This is my optimism talking. I'm keeping the "Bring back the mine train!" voice quiet for now.

Chuck said...

"Frankenfort." Brilliant.

Tom, I like your optimism. And you do cite examples of recentish attractions executed well. I'm going to think positive today. I'm not going to hope for a new fort, lest my hopes be dashed, but I am hopeful that something worthwhile will arise from the construction walls and piles of dirt.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I wish my parents had had the foresight to take a photo of me and my siblings at the park, year after year in the same spot. But then again, they didn’t ever take a photo of us at the park at ALL.

Tom, like you, I can only hope that the future attractions turn out to be something really amazing. We shall see!

Chuck, optimism shmotimism! ;-)

DrGoat said...

That sounds pretty painful K.M. Was the Disney aid station an A or B ticket?

Melissa said...

Aww, li'l miss has a white purse just like Grandma's!