Sunday Spotlight Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Sunday Spotlight: A Trip to Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland

One of the gems at Disneyland is hidden right in plain site. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island is passed by thousands of guests on a daily basis. Just a fraction of them actually take the trek across the Rivers of America to explore it, however. Originally known simply as Tom Sawyer Island, the island officially opened at Disneyland on June 16, 1956. It was inspired by the stories of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. References to the the book could be found throughout as kids of all ages explored the caves, coves, rocks, and more!

An Island of Change

There have been some changes to the island through the years. In 1992, the end of the island closest to New Orleans Square was rebuilt to make a stage for Fantasmic! However, the rest of the island more or less remained the same. In 2001, mock rifles at Fort Wilderness were removed. In 2007, the island was re-themed and renamed PIrate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. This brought elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean to the island to coincide with the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Disney justified the change with a chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In it, Tom, Huck and Joe Harper go off to play pirates on a nearby island.

The island saw a significant change again ahead of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. To make room for this new land at Disneyland, the Rivers of America were shortened and re-routed. The island closed in 2016 in January and reopened the following year in June. While much of the areas guests could visit on the island remained unchanged by this construction, the backside of the island was made shorter and refreshed.

An Island of Adventure

To get to the island, guests board a small raft that travels across the Rivers of America from one dock to another. This raft is also reminiscent of the adventures that Tom Sawyer would have gone on in Mark Twain’s stories. It can be a lot of fun as this raft is operated by a cast member and does float. This means that gravity can be effective and feet can get wet at times if too many people stand on one side or corner! Sometimes guests are lucky enough to have Captain Jack Sparrow or Redd board with them. Daps Magic team member Angela documented a trip to Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island where this happened. Below is a comprehensive video of a visit to Tom Sawyer Island in 2023. Enjoy exploring the island through the lens of the video camera.

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What do you think of Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island? What is your favorite part of this island adventure? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!