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The Story of the Liberty Belle

Everyone has their favorite place to sit and relax at Magic Kingdom Park.  One of our favorites is the Liberty Square Riverboat—the replica of a stern wheeled paddle steamer that is located in the heart of Liberty Square.  On the 17-minute ride around Tom Sawyer Island on the Rivers of America, you can listen to Mark Twain tell the story of life on the river and watch the sites of Adventureland and Liberty Square go by.

Attraction aside, it is the ship that we find fascinating.  In 1973, the Richard F. Irvine was constructed on property as a second ship to “sail” on the Rivers of America.  Joining the Admiral Joe Fowler, the two ships alternated sailing and unloading until 1980, when the Fowler was removed.  In 1996, the Irvine was removed from the Rivers of America for repairs and re-christened the Liberty Belle.  The refurbished, three-tiered, 450-passenger ship was re-structured with vinyl and steel and renamed to solidify its link with the story of Liberty Square.  But the Admiral Joe Fowler and Richard F. Irvine are names that were not forgotten.   You can now find the names two of the ferries that sail on Bay Lake between the Ticket and Transportation Center and Magic Kingdom.

Does  anyone remember Princess Tiana’s Riverboat Jubilee?  From October 2009 – January 2010, the Liberty Belle was part of a show that featured characters from The Princess and the Frog.  With characters and music from the film, and guests invited to be part of the show on the riverboat (we were selected), it was one of our more memorable Magic Kingdom experiences!

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(All photos from the authors’ personal collection.)

LookingforMagicLooking for Magic is Kathy @ Two Roads Photo  and Sean @ Shamrock Photo.  Kathy is a librarian, walker of many miles, and Paper Bag Princess, who dreams of having coffee with Belle at the castle and co-administering a fantasy book discussion group.  Sean is a fire fighter, pilot, and closet superhero, who would like to join the pack with Tigger to use his bouncy and fun powers to make people smile.

Kathy can be contacted at imtxag85@aol.com Sean can be contacted at spoc65@aol.com