Lou Mongello / Monday, September 17th, 2007
- Although the Rivers of America may seem quite deep, it is only about 7 feet. How can a riverboat like the Liberty Belle float and traverse such shallow water? Well, believe it or not, the Liberty
Belle riverboat actually rides along a rail that is attached to the riverbed below. What the water was drained from the river in 1996, maintenance trucks were able to drive around the dry riverbed, with their roofs just reaching what would have been the water line!
- The Admiral Joe Fowler took its first trip around the River of America on October 2, 1971 – just one day after Walt Disney World opened. A “D-Ticket” attraction, the boat was named after a retired U.S. Navy admiral who was responsible for overseeing the construction of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, during routine maintenance in dry dock in 1980,
the boat was dropped from a crane and sustained irreparable hull damage, forcing it into early retirement. The other riverboat that traveled the Rivers of American was the Richard F. Irvine. Known as the Liberty Belle since 1996, the Irvine didn’t debut until May 20, 1973 . After the name change to the Liberty Belle, two of the ferry boats between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center were renamed the “Richard Irvine” (originally “Magic Kingdom 1”), and the “Admiral Joe Fowler” (originally “Magic Kingdom 2”)
- The Liberty Square Riverboat is a leisurely 17-minute ferry boat ride around the Rivers of America. Splash Mountain is the next longest ride at 11 minutes, followed by the Haunted Mansion at 8 minutes, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at just about 4 minutes.
- The Liberty Belle Riverboat is a real, working paddle steamer, built entirely from scratch in dry dock at Walt Disney World. Everything about the Belle is authentic and working, except for the steering, since the boat travels on a steel track hidden underwater!
- The 400-passenger steam wheel paddle boat Richard F. Irvine was the first boat built at the Walt Disney World on-site metal shop. Construction took approximately six months.
View of the cabin and bait shop from the Riverboat