Two of the Magic Kingdom‘s most charming attractions, the Liberty Square Riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island, recently reopened after a lengthy refurbishment. On the day that they reopened, after a ride on the Liberty Belle, I ventured out to explore Tom Sawyer Island. Before you do the same, let me share a few hints and tips that’ll help you prepare for your visit.
The island is open…sort of.
While the island is technically open to guests, at this time, it’s limited to only the front half. Superstition Bridge and the Barrel Bridge are currently closed. Also, Aunt Polly’s Refreshments, the island’s occasionally-open quick service dining location, isn’t serving at this time.
And, as we’ve seen elsewhere on Disney property, the playground is currently closed. That being said, there are copious amounts of trails to follow, caves to be explored, and shady spots in which to rest.
Huck’s Landing, the covered porch that overlooks Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, is open as well, though with only one rocking chair due to what I imagine is an effort to help promote physical distancing.
Both Potter’s Mill and Harper’s Mill are open and ready to be explored, with Harper’s Mill sporting some new wood along its water chute.
The covered seating area near Aunt Polly’s is accessible, though with fewer seats available as some tables are marked off to allow for distancing. If you brought a snack or two out to the island with you, this is the perfect spot to stop for a bite. But, if you make the trek out to the island (snack or no snack), be sure to stop by the gazebo for a view of the Haunted Mansion that can’t be beat.
Don’t forget that the island has limited operating hours.
The current operating hours of Tom Sawyer Island are 11am to 4:30pm. I’ve shown up too late to take that quick raft ride out to the island, only to walk away in disappointment. Learn from my mistakes and be sure to keep those operating times in mind.
Pack your patience…and sunscreen.
Before the pandemic, the free-floating log rafts that took guests out to Tom Sawyer Island would be quite full, but these days, the capacity of each raft, understandably, is very limited. There are three green markers on the floor of each raft, and only 4 guests per marker are allowed. Thus, only 12 guests max can be loaded onto each raft. So, pack your patience. On reopening day, I waited 30 minutes to be loaded onto a raft, and because the party in line in front of me had a larger amount of people and only one marker was available on the raft, the cast member took me before them. That’s just how things are going to go for the time being, and it’s good to know that ahead of time.
Also, when it was time for me to leave the island, it took 45 minutes to get loaded into a raft for my return. Forty-five minutes. Yikes. Thankfully, I had work to do and I stood there dictating last week’s Saturday Snacks article into my phone, but the mom behind me in line was about ready to lose her ever-loving mind because her kiddos weren’t enjoying the lengthy wait. Also, if you’re on the island on a sunny day, the line to wait to return to Frontierland isn’t shaded. Slather on a bit of sunscreen just in case.
Hide the paintbrush is on hold…for now.
If you’ve heard a rumor about cast members hiding paintbrushes on the island for guests to find and return to the cast members who pilot the rafts, the story is true. How much fun is that?! But, due to the pandemic, the practice of hiding the paintbrushes on the island is on hold. Cast members are hoping that the tradition will return once it’s safe to do so.
It’s a little-known fact…
Did you know that the Tom Sawyer Island log rafts also serve as emergency vessels for the Liberty Square Riverboat? Yep. According to a Frontierland cast member, the rafts will be deployed should the Liberty Belle become unable to complete her journey around the Rivers of America. I found this info nugget fascinating. It’s great to know that those rafts have a dual purpose!
If you’d like to catch up on my journey on the newly reopened Liberty Square Riverboat, be sure to click here.
If you have additional hints and tips for visiting Tom Sawyer Island, please leave them in the comment section below.