One of the great things about Walt Disney World is because of the abundance of attractions, no two trips are ever the same. No matter how many times I have visited WDW,which is 21 times and counting, I always seem to discover something new. On our trip last fall we “discovered” Tom Sawyer Island, and what a “discovery” it was!
Tom Sawyer Island, located in FrontierLand , was always one of those attractions that we would pass but never gave a second look. To be honest, on the outside, it really doesn’t look like much. However, as we discovered, looks can be quite deceiving. Our travel party on this particular trip consisted of my family (5 kids), my parents, and my best pal and her family (3 kids). Since we had never experienced the island, we decided it would be a great place to take the kids before we headed over for our lunch reservations. We figured letting the kids run off some energy before sitting down for our meal would not only insure they had released any pent up engery but would also have worked up a hearty appetite. In order to get to Tom Sawyer Island, you must board a log raft at Tom’s Landing, located near Big Thunder Mountain. It is a short ride across the river to the island. This, itself, was a bit hit with my kids as they like ANYTHING water related. Once you disembark, you are free to explore the island at your leisure. Maps are posted thought the island to guide you around.
So what’s so great about Tom Sawyer Island? It is a kids playland to the Disney-th degree. There are dark passageways, caves and an old mine to explore. My older kids thought this was awesome, but it was a little scary for DD3 just because of the darkness. I used a flashlight app on my phone and that seems to extinguish most of her fear. There is also a bouncy rope bridge that the kids loved jumping on, but again DD3 was not a huge fan. This was not surprising since she is only 25 pounds so the slightest movement on that bridge tended to launch her quite a distance. The best part of Tom Sawyer Island ,by far, has to be the old-fashioned fort, named Fort Langhorn. Named after Samuel Langhorn Clemens (AKA Mark Twain), the fort offers rooms to explore, air rifles and canons and even has a secret escape tunnel for those brave enough to venture into the darkness. The exterior of the fort offers a center courtyard with seating, great for taking a break while the kids play. There is even an old-fashioned checkers board where visitors can challenge their rival family member. Restrooms are located near the landing and at Fort Clemens which is great because who wants to wait for the raft when you have a three year old who “needs to go RIGHT NOW” (seriously, Disney really thinks of everything).
The island itself has plenty of shady areas and is a great place to take a break from the heat and the crowds. I know it sounds bit silly but my kids need time to run around when we are at WDW. Although they spend their day walking all over the park and standing in line, they still need time for kid play. Tom Sawyer Island is a great place to do just that, especially if you are in need of a midday break but do not want to leave the park. A couple of things to keep in mind when
considering a stop at Tome Sawyer Island. First, you must be ambulatory, as the twisty cave floors and passageways are not conducive to any type of stroller, wheelchair, or walking aid. When we went I was healing from a broken foot and two broken ribs. Thankfully I was off the crutches, but I still had on “the boot”. It was quite difficult to maneuver through the cave in the dark with it on. Second, there are some dark parts and while they are over quickly (or as quickly as you can walk), it may be enough to scare little ones who freak out in the dark. Using a tiny keychain flashlight or a flashlight phone app may help. Finally, the island closes at dusk so you want to be mindful of the time if you are planning on making a stop during your Magic Kingdom Day.
I know some have said that Tom Sawyer Island is boring and I will be the first to say that if you are looking for thrills and excitement, you will not find it here. But, if you are looking for a place to hang out, cool off, and escape the crowds while allowing the kids to run around and be kids, Tom Sawyer Island definitely the place to go. Our kids had a great time taking a break from our busy day to just be kids. For our family, a visit to Tom Sawyer Island is now on our list of “must-see”s for every visit to the Magic Kingdom.Share