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Tom Sawyer Island

I suspect that when most of you are planning your vacation to Walt Disney World, Tom Sawyer Island isn't high on your “must see” list. More likely, you're thinking about which resort to stay at, where to eat, character meet-and-greets, and possibly a ride on Space Mountain and Kilimanjaro Safaris. But you probably won't even think about Tom Sawyer Island until you're in Frontierland and you see one of the rafts transiting the Rivers of America. And that's okay; because Tom Sawyer Island doesn't require any advance planning. It only requires a willingness to experience a low-tech adventure that pays homage to a vanishing part of the American landscape.

Many people think that Tom Sawyer Island was an opening day attraction. But that's not the case. This section of Frontierland didn't open to the public until May 20, 1973. At that time it took a “D” coupon to ride the rafts to the island. Here are three pictures taken of the island, or should I say landfill, in January 1972. The first picture was taken in Frontierland, somewhat in front of Country Bear Jamboree, looking at the south tip of the island. Harper's Mill now sits on this spot.


Before Tom Sawyer Island


This next picture was taken from the Haunted Mansion. As you can see, there was nothing on the island except scrub brush.


Before Tom Sawyer Island


This last picture was taken from the Walt Disney World Railroad looking across what will someday be Thunder Mountain.

Before Tom Sawyer Island


Our journey begins in the far reaches of Frontierland. Here, on the banks of the Rivers of America is a landing where four rafts, the Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, Injun Joe, and Huck Finn, are boarded for a short voyage across the water. Tom Sawyer Island is generally open from 10am until dusk.


Frontierland Landing

Raft on Rivers of America


If you're ever near the loading dock around 9:45, you might notice guests are already lining up to be aboard the first raft of the day. That's because they probably know something you don't. Each day, four to six paint brushes are hidden (in plain sight) in various places around the island. Those lucky enough to find one are rewarded with FastPasses to either Splash Mountain or Thunder Mountain when it's returned to a cast member. Note, the cast members change the hiding places daily so even if you've found a paint brush in the past, you'll have to search the next time you visit. Here are pictures of some lucky hunters.


Paint Brush

Paint Brush


Although there are several spots on the island where rafts can come ashore, generally, “Tom's Landing” is your point of entry. And just in case the long crossing put a strain on your bladder, restrooms are conveniently located here. Nearby is an amusing sign that sets the tone for your visit.


Tom's Landing

Welcum Sign


Also near Tom's Landing is a map of the island. If you take the time to read it, you'll find that every nook and cranny of the island has a name which can be traced back to Mark Twain's novel “Huckleberry Finn.”


Map of Tom Sawyer Island


Although the entire island was planted by Disney horticulturists, it has a natural feel about it. You can truly forget you're in the middle of a bustling theme park and pretend you're somewhere along the Mississippi River. Here you'll find oaks, pine, sycamores, red maples and elms. Growing beneath their limbs are dwarf azaleas, firethorn and a dozen other species of bush. An occasional stream can also be encountered as you explore the various trails.

If we start out traveling counterclockwise from Tom's Landing the first point of interest we come to is Harper's Mill. The mill's namesake is Harper Goff, a longtime Imagineer who helped plan and design Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. In addition, the mill's name can be traced back to Joe Harper who joins Tom and Huck when they ran away from home to Jacksons Island.

The grain mill is typical of those found along many of the rivers in the U.S. during the 19th century. It's interesting to note that the structure once sported a more weathered look than it does today. After years of operation, the mill required a major rehab and the water wheel needed to be replaced. The new wheel was constructed using modern bearings and spindles and when reattached, spun unrealistically fast. Imagineers needed to come up with a dampening system to slow the wheel down and make it appear as if it were built using period materials.


Harper's Mill

Harper's Mill


Harper's Mill also pays homage to one of Walt's early animation triumphs. In 1937, Walt Disney produced “The Old Mill,” one of the Silly Symphonies. This was the first film to use the multiplane camera, a device that added depth of field to animation. This film also depicted realistic animal behavior, wind and rain effects, and new lighting techniques. So innovative was this film that it won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoon.


Multiplane Camera


In one scene of the film, we see a bird that has made her nest inside a gear socket located within the old mill. As a storm outside starts to rage, the gears start to move, threatening to crush the mother and her eggs as the gears join together. But fate is with the bird and the opposing gear is missing one of its teeth, thus, the bird is never crushed.


The Old Mill

Bird and Gears


Inside Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island is a complex set of gears used to grind grain. Within one of these gears you can see a small bird sitting on her nest. She too spins around as the waterwheel outside turns. But this bird is also spared a disastrous ending as the gears never quite crush her.


Bird and Gears


Now it's obvious that the old mill in the animated film looks nothing like Harper's Mill. And the gear configuration is not the same. But there can be no mistake that this is a tribute to one of Walt Disney's early masterpieces.

Around the bend from Harper's Mill we come to the spot where Tom Sawyer convinced his friends Ben Rogers, Johnny Miller, and Billy Fisher to do his chores and whitewash Aunt Polly's fence.


Whitwashed Fence


Nearby is Aunt Polly's cottage, surrounded by one of the most charming porches you'll ever hope to find. This is the perfect spot to sit and relax while the kids explore the rest of the island. This used to be my favorite spot in the Magic Kingdom to have lunch. A small selection of sandwiches, fried chicken, chips, and brownies used to be sold here. It was the ideal “picnic” meal that felt miles away from the hubbub of the other counter service restaurants. But due to budget cuts, the food selections were discontinued. All that is available here now are two vending machines that sell Coke products and bottled water. Sigh…


Aunt Polly's

Aunt Polly's

Aunt Polly's


Around the corner and up a hill from Aunt Polly's is a clearing in the forest. Benches and a picnic table are available for a pleasurable moment with nature. A little further along the trail is “Scavage Fort.” This play spot of Tom's was built out of old doors, barrels, and odd pieces of wood. If you look closely you'll notice the roof is actually an old rowboat turned upside-down.


Clearing and Benches

Scavage Fort


Since Tom Sawyer Island is crisscrossed with trails, it's difficult to explore it logically. It's also difficult to describe it in a methodical order. Because of this, we're going to jump back to Tom's Landing (where we began) and start moving clockwise where we run into Old Scratch's Mystery Mine. Old Scratch (or Mr. Scratch) is a pre-civil war folk name for the devil.

This is a mine, not a cave. Timbers can be seen throughout holding up the precarious tunnels. Howling wind, water dripping, and bats' chirps can be heard as you make your way through this very dark passageway. About midway through you discover a beautiful collection of glowing gems. Note, this is a one-way tunnel that will deposit you on the other side of the island.


Old Scratch's Mystery Mine

Old Scratch's Mystery Mine

Old Scratch's Mystery Mine

Old Scratch's Mystery Mine


Not far from the entrance of Old Scratch's Mystery Mine is the opening to Injun Joe's Cave. If you remember, Tom witnessed Injun Joe murdering Doc Robinson and is later trapped in the cave with him. Inside the cavern you'll discover an eerie face and walk across an old bridge that spans a seemingly bottomless pit. Once again, this is a one-way passageway that exits on the other side of the island.


Injun Joe's Cave

Injun Joe's Cave


Both Injun Joe's Cave and Old Scratch's Mystery Mine are very dark and contain numerous twists and turns. It would be almost impossible for an adult to become disoriented but a small child could get turned around. And if your little one is afraid of the dark and creepy noises, you better skip these attractions. Also note, for those of you who would classify yourself as extra-large, some of the passageways will be tight for you.

When you exit the cave or mine, you'll be in the proximity of Poor Ole Jim's Shack and the Barrel Bridge. If you remember, Jim was a slave who flees from his master along with Huck, who is running away from his drunken father.


Poor Ole Jim's Shack


The Barrel Bridge is perhaps one of the most entertaining activities on the island. A dozen or so barrels have been lashed together and covered with planks of wood to create a floating bridge across Smuggler's Cove. Transiting this bridge is no easy task as each barrel bobs up and down as you put your weight on it. And it's just as much fun to watch others as it is to experience it for yourself.


Barrel Bridge

Barrel Bridge


Back near the entrance to Injun Joe's Cave is Potter's Mill. The mill is lovely to look at close up and from afar. You can also explore the inner workings of the mill via a stairwell that circles the driveshaft. The mill's namesake, Muff Potter, was a drunken fisherman and good friends with Tom and Huck. He was also framed for the murder of Doc Robinson by Injun Joe.


Potter's Mill

Potter's Mill


Near Potter's Mill is Huck's Landing. This dock is used during busier times when more than two rafts are transiting the river.


Huck's Landing


A unique feature of the Magic Kingdom's Tom Sawyer Island is that it is actually two islands. At Disneyland, it's only one. Connecting the two is a suspension bridge that bounces and sways as you journey across it. The more people, the more it bounces.


Suspension Bridge


Across the bridge and to the left is Pappy's Fishing Pier. This is a great place to sit for a spell and watch the trains careen around the curve on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.


Pappy's Fishing Pier

Big Thunder Mountain


When Tom Sawyer Island first opened, the fort that anchors the north island was named Fort Sam Clemens (Mark Twain's real name). In later years, it was renamed Fort Langhorn " the middle name of Sam Clemens. It's interesting to note, his actual middle name is spelled with an “e” at the end " Langhorne.


Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn


The fort is a lot of fun to explore. There is a blacksmith's shop complete with some simple AudioAnimatronics figures, rifles that can be aimed at the passing riverboat (no bullets), and a simple checker board to be enjoyed.


Blacksmith

Rifle Roost

Checker Board


At one time, you could also purchase snacks and soft drinks at the fort, but this was discontinued years ago.

At the back of the fort is an escape tunnel. This leads to another dark cave that deposits guests along the riverbank and below the fort.


Escape Tunnel


That's pretty much the entire tour of Tom Sawyer Island. This attraction is low-tech all the way and if you're looking for a thrill a minute, then look someplace else. But if you're willing to invest about 30-40 minutes of your time, with realistic expectations, I think you'll find the island has a lot to offer.

Here is a video I shot of Tom Sawyer Island. Enjoy.




The previous post in this blog was It's Disney Theme Parks Quiz Time -- Answers.

The next post in this blog is Quiz - Costumes and their Attractions - Questions.

Comments (53)

Liz:

Thanks for the post. Tom Sawyer Island has turned into one of my children' favorite spots in the Magic Kingdom. It's always at the top of their must-do list each time we visit.

Kristi:

Thanks Jack for another GREAT blog entry. I can't believe how much I missed on that Tom Sawyer Island even though I thought we saw it all last time! I guess we'll have to go back. :-)

Wendy Crober:

Hi Jack,

Tom Sawyer Island has always been one of our favourites...it's so tranquil compared to the hustle and bustle around Splash and Thunder Mountains. The strange thing is we've never heard about the paint brushes so that is something new for us to try.
We love the barrel bridge - there's always some screeching going on when someone wants to go slow and someone else runs on it.
It will remain on our must do list.
Wendy

John C. Lacasse:

Jack,

Thank you for another excellent article (love the video)! Having just re-read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" I can appreciate the details of this island even more. While I'm okay with the conversion to a pirate theme at Disneyland, I hope that they keep the Tom Sawyer theme at the Magic Kingdom. I think it's a nice quiet respite from the rest of the park.

It's disappointing that Aunt Polly's isn't open anymore. I assumed it was only open during the "oh my god, it's busy" times at MK.

Thanks again.

Hale:

Thanks for the article. I didn't know about the bird in the mill. I also didn't know that there were two landings on the island.

We enjoyed Tom Sawyer Island in the late afternoon last August. As we were walking by where the whitewashed fence is, my sister looked over behind a fence, and picked out one of the brushes. We were lucky that I had told my family about the brushes in advance. We got one Fastpass for each person in my family for Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

I'm incredibly disappointed that Aunt Polly's is no longer around. I too thought it was on a seasonal operation. It looks like such a charming spot.

I wish they could outfit some parts of the island to be open at night, (since the Magic Kingdom doesn't do Fantasmic.) I imagine it would be great to watch fireworks from the island, and they could have special entertainment running on it.

Jack's Comment:

I've always assumed that Disney feels the island would be too dangerous at night, even with low-level lighting.

If memory serves, Aunt Polly's closed shortly after 9-11 when attendance dropped off significantly at the parks. It was a way to save money during a difficult time. It's a shame management hasn't decided to reopen this great spot. It's one of those "little things" that brings a lot of joy.

Megan :

Thanks for the thing about the paint brushes. I really thought they stopped that a long time ago.

Jack's Comment:

I think they did stop the paint brushes for a while. But I suspect they got so many complaints that they had to reestablish this practice.

Josh:

hey jack
great blog on tom sawyer island. as you said earlier in the blog it is not on many people's must see list as I have not been to the island in a while. This year however my family and i will make sure we make a quick stop there and try and find those paint brushes. can't wait for your next blog and as always, keep up the great work!

Tammy:

We enjoyed TSI for the first time last year, and it's definitely on our must-do list for our September trip, as my six year old boys loved it!. We had an infant with us last time (foster son) and didn't stay long. Apparently, we missed a lot! :) But that gives us more to look forward to next time. Sad to hear there is no snack options available there though. Do you know if it's okay to purchase food and take it over to eat on the island?

Jack's Answer:

I took a look at the "warning/information" sign for the island. It says nothing about "No Food or Beverage." However, I really can't give you a definitive answer. Sorry.

Jen Kizer:

Jack:
Thank you for another great, informative article! I have visited Disney World several times, and I have never taken the time to do Tom Sawyer Island. I will definitley have to make it a priority on my next trip.

I love all your videos! They are so well done! Great job and thank you!

Jenny

Lynn Johnson:

Eating cold fried chicken and ice cream while sitting on the porch at Aunt Polly's - one our favorite memories from our early visits to the Magic Kingdom! I think we should start a campaign to bring it back! ;-) Thanks for another wonderful blog, Jack!

cathy mullen:

Hi Jack,
This was one of my boys favorite places to visit because they would tease their sister so much on the barrel bridge and in the caves!

I had read about finding paint brushes at another site and was going to ask you if this was true so now I know and can pass this info onto others.

Deb Ragno:

I am one who has missed this. I skipped it on purpose because I was told by several people that it was nothing but a fancy playground for children. It is definitely going to be on the plan for the next visit.

Just curious -- How big is too big for an adult to comfortably go through the various caves / tunnels / escape routes? Is there a place outside the entrances to try out the tighter places (similar to the mock-ups they have at various attractions for pooh-sized people)?

Jack's Answer:

In a way, Tom Sawyer Island is just a fancy playground for children. But what's wrong with that? And even if you don't have any kids, you're a kid at heart, aren't you? Give it a try. All you have to lose is about 30 minutes of your time. You'll be glad you did.

You question about size is difficult to answer. I'll say if you have more than a 46 inch waist, then you'll definitely be squeezing through some of the smaller openings.

Meagan:

I love Tom Sawyer's island!! I know that you can be a kid all over MK, but you can really be a kid on the island! I love going down the secret staircase as if the fort was under attack. Thanks for showing everyone the Old Mill. That is one of my favorite parts of TSI. The Disney channel used to put that cartoon on as a short when the show was over and i loved it :) That part w/ the missing spoke that saves the bird is the best <3

brenda:

Another great report on a gem that many people miss.

The island was where my kids went to chill out and play on their first visits when they were very little. The shade of the trees, the tunnels and the fort were really welcome on a boiling hot day, but equally importantly, the island didn't feel crowded and the kids could do something physical (climbing the fort, shooting the rifles, exploring the mills, jumping on the barrel bridge) without any queues.

Great report, Jack.
When my boys were 5 and then 6 and then 7, they could not wait to get to Tom Sawyer's island to run to Fort Langhorn and get to those guns up there.
We have never missed the island. It has always been a great spot to just take some time out and breathe

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! In the 24 times I have visited WDW, I have never done Tom Sawyer's Island. I will definitely put it on my must do list in November when we come back! Thanks again for another awesome article.

On a side note...When my husband and I visited in July, we stayed to watch both the 9 and 11pm Electrical Light parades at the MK. Why were the patriotic floats (eagle and fireworks) at the end of the first parade left out entirely for the 11 pm one? We visited on July 9th. We were just curious...

Jack's Answer:

I can assure you, the patriotic float is definitely a part of the 11pm parade. I have to assume they were experiencing some mechanical failure that could not be rectified in time for the parade.

Jeff:

Another great blog Jack! I always look forward to your informative, engaging articles. They're like reading a book on Disneyanna complete with top-notch photos.

Debbie Bolen:

Thanks for the trip to yesteryear Jack! I used to take my son and his friend over to Tom Sawyer Island and let them run off their energy while shooting their Tom Sawyer pop rifles. I took Hubby to the island on our last trip - he had never been over there. In fact he thought it was just back-ground! Imagine his pleasant surprise when we explored every thing, including the bridges and caves.
Thanks again - I love it!

christine:

Hi Jack,

Another super blog! You never run out of great ideas!! Your video makes me want to go back.

Tom Sawyer Island is a must for us every year. We have three teenage daughters and they still enjoy roaming the island. I love sitting in the rocking chairs at Aunt Polly's while they explore. Every year we hope to find a paintbrush, but so far we haven't had any luck! I guess we have to keep going until we find one:)


Regina:

Thanks again Jack for a wonderful walk down memory lane!! I remember buying a drink at Aunt Polly's when my son was little. We enjoyed so much sitting, relaxing and enjoying the "calmness" of the island. Tom Sawyer Island is sometimes rushed through and/or overlooked, but it's always a must for me!!

Thanks so much for sharing!

Penny from Vermont:

Thanks, once again, for the great blog on this wonderful spot.
My brother and I, when we were younger, used loved to go to Tom Sawyers Island to wander the caves and scare people. As adults we still like to go and one of my biggest pleasures was to take my 4yr old nephew there for the first time. He was kind of scared but since Daddy and Aunt Penny were with him he was OK. It is too bad about Aunt Polly's no longer serving food but if a campaign gets started to reopen it, add my name!
Thanks for the heads up about the paint brushes, we will look for one when we go in 2 WEEKS!!

Tim:

I've read several places (both online and in the book The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World) that the gears in Harper's Mill actually "creak" the melody Down by the Old Mill Stream. The last time we visited the Mill we couldn't quite make out a melody from the creaking inside. Regardless, the detail of the bird from The Old Mill is wonderful enough!

Another great article. Fantastic work!

Jack's Answer:

A tune is definitely played by the gears inside Harper's Mill. I have verified this in the past. However, I forgot to check it out while researching my blog and I don't remember what song is played. I guess you'll have to go back and listen for yourself. :-)

Joshua_me:

Great job !!

I too can remember when Aunt Polly's served fried chicken. (*REAL* fried chicken ! Actual pieces with bones and everything. NO nuggets, imagine !)

It was a favorite place for my family. Us kids would run around while the parents ate chicken and sipped lemonade. I think there were times we spent at least an hour there. It seemed like it's own little world, an oasis in the middle of the park.

Great memories.

Maureen Carlson:

We too always make a visit to Tom Sawyer Island on our visits to the Magic Kingdom. My 14 year old daughter and my husband look for the paint brushes on every visit and have found them twice. I have become the Disney information source at work, because we go so often and this is something I tell everyone they must do!!!

Grace:

After 11 years and 14+ visits, we still LOVE Tom Sawyer Island. It's an oasis of shady calm and meticulous detail. You really can believe you're in Tom's world there.

We miss the food at Aunt Polly's too! Add our vote to bring it back.

Heather Young:

Thanks Jack for showing me what is actually down that mine! I'm not good in dark enclosed spaces but now I've seen it, I'll give it a try on my next visit.

When my daughter was small and her brother and Dad wanted to go and explore the island, we'd sit on a rocking chair with a cool drink and a hug. It was so peaceful there it was hard to imagine that we were in the middle of a very busy Magic Kingdom, well not until Big Thunder went hurling past with screams of delight/fear.

We haven't managed to find those paint brushes yet though...

Andrea:

Thanks Jack,

Another wonderful blog and video. I used to go to Tom Sawyer's Island as a kid and remember loving it. Then this past March my husband and I decided to take our 2 daughters (ages 9 and 7) to the island to explore, and they had such a blast there. I told them about the paintbrushes and we unfortunately did not find any, only because we got there too late to look, so when we go back this September they both said that they want to do Tom Sawyer's Island first thing in the morning so they can find the paintbrushes. We can't wait.

Sally:

Hi Jack,

I used to take the kids over there just for lunch at Aunt Polly's and I haven't been back since they closed it down. I wonder what it would take to get it opened again? It was the best adult lunch spot at WDW because we could sit and relax and the kids would just run wild. I still remember how excited my boys were when they discovered the dark, scary tunnels and mine shafts by themselves. It was a real Huck Finn moment.

Thank you for this great blog!

Mike:

Jack, great blog! Tom Sawyer's Island was an unexpected favorite of ours during our first WDW visit last November. However, Injun Joe's Cave was the scariest part of the trip. I decided I don't like caves!

We're heading back in October and this again will be a must see attraction.

Thanks for helping to keep the Disney magic alive for us between trips!

Denise:

Hi Jack,
Great article as always and wonderful video. was wondering (I might have missed it) is the island able to handle a EVC. My husband wants to go there but not sure if he can as he is amputee using his EVC. This would be right up our alley as we go many time by ourselves and would love this. Thanks for all the wonderful work you do always enjoy your reviews.
Denise

Jack's Answer:

I don't know if wheelchairs and EVCs are actually banned from the island, but it's not the best place to be on wheels. Most of the pathways are full of hills and turns. It is NOT wheelchair friendly.

Ileana:

Hi again from Buenos Aires Jack, thank you again for another fabulous review, The Island is not a highlight but it is a lot of fun. I'm wondering, Have you gone to WW of Harry Potter? you know, for us, is very difficult to go every year (we went last january) but we are very anxious about it. I want to know your opinion if you have already go. It is always a pleasure to read you. Read you soon!!

Jack's Answer:

I have not visited the new Harry Potter Ride at Universal. I'm waiting for autumn when the weather is cooler and the crowds are smaller.

Jen S.:

Another great one Jack!! I can remember being a kid and running ahead in the caves/mines so I could jump out and 'scare' my family!! Although as an adult, I still do the same thing. The family just never learns!! lol

Fran:

TSI is the perfect escape from all the activity of the Magic Kingdom. I do many solo visits and always pop over to TSI just to roam through the lush landscaping and rest on Aunt Polly's porch. Thanks for the great blog, Jack!

Dan P:

Jack -

Thanks for covering one of the gems of the park. It was always great when the kids were small to head over to Tom Sawyer Island in the afternoon - grab some lemonades or some ice cream treats at Aunt Polly's and let the kids enjoy the one part of the park without lines and without structure.
This is the type of place we would have killed to go to as kids and I'm glad my sons were able to enjoy it as children.
WDW - please reconsider opening Aunt Polly's - a fun respite in a sea of noise and action.

Michelle B.:

Another great article! I've been there several times, but never discovered the Scavage Fort, or noticed the birds nest in the mill. Not being a Fried Chicken fan, I used to get the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches at Aunt Pollys. A great place for lunch and never crowded.
I'm a little surprised you didn't point out one of my favorites which is the teeter-totter rock. I'm assuming it's still there? Also the "hidden Goofy" in the gem cave?

Jack's Answer:

The teeter-totter rock has not been there for years. Sorry.

Heather Joy:

Good Stuff *grin
I never miss going to the island when I'm in the park. I love to see both old and young "kids" running back and forth , just enjoying the simplicity of the island. A definite favorite. And I can concur...the cave can be a bit 'tight' for most adults. Aww, to be a kid again. Thanks again for another wonderful report.

Betty:

Hi Jack

It's wonderful to see you cover Tom Sawyer's island. I have mentioned in my commentary before that it is one of our favs in MK. My son loves to go there to see if he can find "pirate treasure"and we would spend a good hour exploring bridges and caves. It always amazes me standing in the middle of the island, that we are in the middle of WDW, away from crowds and lines and in the middle my children's imagination.
Keep up the good work!

Josh Olive:

As always, Jack, excellent article about one of my favorite places in the parks!

Like you, I really miss being able to enjoy a meal from Aunt Polly's. There was nothing quite like her fried chicken and lemonade. Sigh.

Thanks for always bringing the parks to us when we can't get to them!

Another stellar blog post Jack!! I've been busy and haven't had time to keep up with you, but I'm glad I'm back!

I never knew the part about the Bluebird and Walt's Silly Symphonies! Thank you for sharing that!

Also, a sidenote about the paintbrushes. I actually had to contact Guest Services about this one time. The last 3 trips to the Island have gotten out of control.

I have found paintbrushes in the TOPS of trees WAY OVER HEAD, behind rocks, and deep within the landscaping (places where ordinarily Guests should not be permitted to venture). In fact, while doing deep searching this last trip, I pulled back some shrubbery to see a snake slithering away! YIKES!

So, while they do leave a few paintbrushes out in plain view for the little kids, they also make a few of them almost impossible to find!

Just a heads up! They are making it more and more challenging every year, I think! (or maybe it just depends on which CMs hide the paintbrushes that particular day!)

Thanks again for the superb post on TSI, one of our favorite places to visit and hang out!

Angela S:

Very good timing again Jack! As I mentioned before about POFQ - we haven't been to Tom's Island yet and I have it as a must do on my list for Oct. Imagine my surprise when I got this and got to read about TSI.

Thanks for the great info.

Duane:

Just once while visiting Tom Sawyer's Island, perhaps about a dozen years ago, a scavenger hunt was going on while we happened to be there. My kids were given maps and a list of items to find and spent an hour or two scavenging. After finding all the items on the list and marking their locations on their maps and presenting them back to a cast member, they were given some sort of small prize (can't remember what it was now though). It was a very enjoyable way to while away some time at WDW and an activity that should be brought back.

Joni :

How do I see your video's? Where is the link?

Jack's Answer:

In most cases, when someone can't see my videos, they need to download Quicktime. This is a free application allows videos to be displayed on webpages.

Jeff:

My boys (7 and 5) loved Tom Sawyer Island. We spent a solid hour running around the island, playing checkers, and firing the guns in the Fort (Mom and sister were at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique). When we returned to WDW a year later, the boys had the island as a MUST DO. On teh return trip they gave the tour to Mom and sister.

Valerie:

Jack, once again kudos on a great article and video! We had explored the island way back in '04 and I thought we were way over due for another walk through this past April. We really took the time to explore many of the nooks and crannies. What a nice time we had and your blog helped me to re-live it! Thanks!

Linda:

Hi Jack,

I am sad to say in the 1/2 dozen times I've been to Disney World, I have seen the sign for Tom Sawyers Island but never bothered to go any further than looking at the sign. We will definitely have to do this on our next trip.

Thank you,
Linda

Stephanie:

I went here about 20 years ago when I was little with my family. Taking my children here next month for our first time. Do you know if there is a rule about strollers? Our littlest isn't quite walking yet. If there is no rule, would it even be practical?

Jack's Answer:

Yes. You can bring strollers onto the island. But be aware. The trails are hilly and sometime uneven.

Becky:

Tom Sawyer Island proved to be a lifesaver on our trip when my younger son was 19 months old ... plenty of room for him to roam, & for some reason he would sit for 20 minutes at a time (that's a long time for a toddler!!) "playing" checkers while I enjoyed a minute to rest in a rocking chair. From there we could keep an eye out for Dad & big brother to go careening around Big Thunder Mountain. This is still one of our favorite spots in The World. Thanks Jack!

Richard Mercer:

Jack,
Thanks for another delightful blog! I hope that someday you will put all of them together in some sort of small book.

Our first family trip was December 2001, and we returned each December until 2008. For at least our first two trips there was still food available at Aunt Polly's, though the offerings were somewhat reduced. I don't think it closed for good until several years after 9/11, certainly no earlier than 2003.

Playgrounds are very important for younger children; they often have a hard time dealing with the rigid, restricted experiences of most Disney attractions and need opportunities for "free play". Tom Sawyer's Island IS a playground and the best in WDW, for children of all ages!

Rob Dickinson:

Hey Jack,
Yet another awesome blog. Thanks. And sorry for tagging in late as usual but this time for good reason. I have been at WDW and just now got home to read this :) TSI is one of my favorite spots in WDW! In my opinion its THE best kept secrets in the park. (Second I would say is the little theater in the rear of Exposition Hall that shows classic Disney cartoons.) I hope TSI stays with us for many years to come!!

I also second (or third :) the suggestion to petition to open Aunt Poly's back up!! I have ALWAYS wanted to have a nice picnic on the Island but in 2000, my first visit to WDW, Aunt Poly's was already down to serving drinks, PB&J sandwiches ONLY for children, and I think ice cream. I never got the joy of fried chicken :( I would love to see food return to the Island or something similar like the "picnic in the park" lunches they were doing at Animal Kingdom.

I have thought of buying food and taking it over as it seems some others have thought about doing but it just seems like it would be a big pain to do let alone the fact the the food would most likely be cold by the time you got over there and set down to eat. Then again it would be great fun! Perhaps next visit to MK I will plan just that?!? Who knows! Or maybe if you are feeling adventurous one day you can try it and scout it out for the rest of us and let us all know how it goes :)

Either way I can only hope Aunt Poly's opens back up with at least a few substantial items on the menu! Gotta run for now! Thanks again! You Rock!

Rob

Erin :

I miss Aunt Polly's. I specifically remember sharing a big strawberry shortcake there in August of 2006 when I brought my mom and brother along for their first trip.
Thanks for all your great blogs.

Christina:

Tom Sawyer's Island is one of my favorite little spots in the park. My family usually goes there to walk around for a while and sit and relax at what used to be Aunt Polly's. Thanks to my copy of the Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World we were able to find that little bird. It's a shame though to see that Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland was changed into a pirate island. Luckily we in florida still have the original.

Mary Ann :

My family loves Tom Sawyer Island! My 14 year old son has Asperger's and loves it. He could run around that place all day! Do you know if there are is a poster of the map of the Island?

Jack's Answer:

There are no paper handout maps of the island, but there are several posted maps of the island in various locations.

Stumbled across this post while looking up 'Aunt Polly's' (feeling nostalgic this evening). Nice work. I especially love the old photos pre-BTMRR, Splash, etc. I actually think the Haunted Mansion looks more foreboding up there on the hill, all alone.
I have always loved Tom Sawyer's Island, and miss Aunt Polly's. To this day, though, the rocking chairs on the porch are a favorite place to sit a spell and watch the Riverboat go round. Thanks for the read.

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