Whether you’ve been to Disney 100 times or are planning your first trip, you probably daydream about what you’d like to do once you’re there. Maybe you’ve even made a “must-do list” for your day at Magic Kingdom, and it’s probably a great one. If I had to guess, I’d say your list has rides like Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and Peter Pan’s Flight on it. You’re not wrong, those are all absolutely must-do attractions at Magic Kingdom, but you forgot one: Tom Sawyer Island!
You’re probably thinking, “Jill, You’ve lost it. There are no rides or even shows over there! It’s a waste of time.” I don’t blame you because I used to think that too. In fact, it was at the top of my “definitely skip” list! Something changed in me, though, and now I can’t go to Magic Kingdom without a stop at To Sawyer Island. It is true Tom Sawyer Island isn’t the most exciting attraction at Magic Kingdom, but it is one of the most magical. The area, which was an opening day attraction at Disneyland before being recreated at Walt Disney World, was designed entirely by Walt Disney. Exploring the island is like discovering a piece of Walt. This playground of the imagination invites young and old alike to be a kid and simply explore together, which was, after all, Walt’s entire purpose for the Parks.
Come explore it with me, and I’ll show you what I mean!
There’s only only one way to the island, and that’s to cross Rivers of America on one of Tom and Huck’s rafts. You’ll find them in Frontierland near Splash Mountain. The rafts set the tone for the experience, once on board you know adventure awaits!
Approaching the island, you’ll see the pottery mill (the big blue windmill). Once you get there you can explore the building s two levels and see exactly how it works. This is great for history buffs, like myself, and homeschooled kids, like my son!
Once you land on the island you’ll find a map that shows you exactly how much there is to do here! Interesting to note: every name and place on the Island correlates to something from a Mark Twain novel!
Over in Huck’s Landing you’ll find new of our favorite ways to slow down and have some good old fashioned fun! My son and I love to play checkers and it’s a must-do on every visit to the Island!
There are so many little tunnels and caves to explore on the island and Scratch’s Mine happens to be one of my favorites! The dark tunnel has tons of surprises and things to see…I won’t give it all away but it’s absolutely worth doing! It’s pretty dark inside but I managed to get one shot of the inside of the mine:
Scavengers Fort is a favorite for little ones! You’ll find plenty of “safe height” structures for them to climb and a tube slide! There are places to sit for parents too!
Tom Sawyer Island is actually divided onto two separate islands and to get to the second part, you have to cross a suspension bridge. The wobbly bridge is fun and if you look over my head, you’ll see that it offers some spectacular views of Cinderella Castle!
Fort Langhorn is an absolutely fantastic area to explore with several “peek-inside” buildings housing animatronics. My favorite is the blacksmith shop:
The multi-level fort has so many things to see and do that we often “get stuck” here and do nothing else on the island! My son and I like to pretend we are calvary and he always comes up with a fun adventure for us here. When it’s time to go you can leave the way you came or you can exit through a secret tunnel! We usually opt for that and usually it is because my son has decided we are under attack and must “abandon fort!”
A little imagination goes a long way to making Tom Sawyer Island an experience your family will never forget. The untrained eye may see empty spaces and “nothing tomdo” but kids can really go wild here creating their own adventure!
In addition to unlocking the wonders of the imagination, this magically simplistic area allows parents to relax, and it allows strollered kids the opportunity to get out some pent-up energy (we parents are tired, but those little ones have been sitting all day)! It’s rarely crowded, which also makes it the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Park. I hope I’ve convinced you to check out this fantastical playground next time you’re at Magic Kingdom. If I haven’t, though, no worries… more fun, and serenity for me!