Tom Sawyer’s Island
While passing through Harper’s Mill on Tom Sawyer’s Island, take a close look at the wooden gears inside. On one of the horizontally-rotating gears, look between the cogs to find a little blue bird sitting in his (or her) nest.
This bird is a subtle reference to the Disney cartoon, “The Old Mill,” the first Disney film to use the multi-plane camera. The film contains a scene where a bird has nested in the cog of a gearwheel. When the wheel begins to turn, the nest is saved when a gear tooth that would have crushed the nest is missing.
Listen closely, too… you can hear the bird singing from its nest, as well as hear the creaks and groans of the old mill playing “Down by the Old Mill Stream.”
“Fort Sam Clemens,” (named after American author Mark Twain), along with Injun Joe’s Cave and the Mystery Mine were just a few of the surprises you would find along the way when you visited Tom Sawyer’s Island. In 1996, though, the Fort’s name was changed to “Fort Langhorn” to coincide with the release of the live-action Disney film, “Tom and Huck,” which is based on the Mark Twain novel about the legendary boyhood friends.
The relaxing, walk-through attraction Tom Sawyer’s Island was not operational on opening day, but instead opened almost two years later in 1973. The wooden rafts which transport guests across the Rivers of America are not as low-tech as most everything else on the island. Although they are made to look like they are built out of logs, the only wood on them is decorative. The rafts actually are made of fiberglass and steel and are powered by environmentally-friendly diesel engines.
The three wooden rafts to Tom Sawyer Island are named after characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Tom Sawyer, Injun Joe, and Becky Thatcher. Each has a maximum capacity of about 70 people.
The Magnetic Mystery Mine is the name of one of the caves on Tom Sawyer Island. Some of the other areas of the Island you can explore are the Windmill, Aunt Polly’s, the Barrel Bridge, the Suspension Bridge, and the Escape Tunnel.
Serving only snacks and beverages, Aunt Polly’s Dockside Inn was located on Tom Sawyer’s Island on the banks of the Rivers of America. Now, it is just a nice place to sit in the shade (aaahhhhhh..), while watching the Liberty Belle riverboat make its way around the island.