BACKSTORY (1955–PRESENT): The Rivers of America is an artificial river surrounding Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country.
While aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia, Mark Twain Riverboat, or even a canoe, guests travel clockwise around Tom Sawyer’s Island. Looking to their right they can see the many areas of the island (the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes debuted May 19, 1971). To the left they see Disneyland itself and at times will see the DLRR train pass by. At the northern end of the island (inaccessible to guests) is the Burning Settler’s Cabin. It used to actually burn by spewing fire from its roof. Despite guest complaints, the park no longer ignites the roof of the cabin with propane each time a ship/boat passes by (WDW still has its cabin burning). In 1992 the south area was renovated to accommodate the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic!. The $30 million dollar production is one of the most successful shows in Disneyland history, judging by guest popularity. In January 2016, the Rivers closed down so that they could be shortened to make room for the new Star Wars Land. The Final Spin below documents my last tour on the Mark Twain in December 2015 before the shutdown and changes occurred.
To see photos of the Pirate’s Lair at Tom Sawyer’s Island makeover, click here.
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FRONTIER RIVER TO GET FACE LIFTING
OVER SIX MILLION GALLONS OF WATER TO BE RECLAIMED
Now you see it—now you don't or vice versa, have ben the magic words in Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom for over six years. But draining the Rivers of America is not quite that simple, and without the talents of Disneyland's maintenance and engineering "magicians" the job would be impossible. To drain 6,160,478 gallons of water from the Frontierland river takes a lot of know-how in planning and engineering, not to mention plain hard work.
First, all the river craft, with the exception of the Mark Twain and the Columbia, had to be removed from the river — rafts, canoes and keel boats — and trnasported to the West Street service area for storage and rehabilitation. Incidentally, the personnel in that area are now referring to it as "the shipyard." The keel boats and rafts, beause of their size, were removed and transported by a 25-ton crane.
This heavy work was limited to Mondays and Tuesdays, when the park was closed, but according to those in charge of the project, a great deal of preparation work was accomplished while guests were in the Park.
The Disneyland waterways are all on a connecting system, with the exception of the Submarine's filtered lagoon and cavern, and begin in the "headwaters" of the Rivers of America. They either flow visibly from one to the other, or by way of an underground by-pass.
So, in order to divert the water flow for the duration of the project, 1,500 lineal feet of 10-in. by-pass has been laid. This is between the temporary recirculation pump in the desert area of Nature's Wonderland and the mouth of the Jungle Rivers under the bridge near the Chicken Plantation.
Last, but not least, sandbagged weirs, or dykes, have been constructed at both outlets of the big river and the signal will be given to start draining at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 29th. It is estimated that it will be completely drained by 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 31st.
It's perfectly natural to wonder where over six million gallons of water will go in 57 1/2 hours. Disneylanders will be glad to know that the water, will not flood the streets of Anaheim, but will be drained into the Anaheim sewer system and absorbed into the ground to be reclaimed by Orange County farmers for their thirsty crops.
The draining is only the beginning. Within the next eight weeks, all craft will undergo complete overhalu, repair and repainting to maintain the Disneyland "new-look" that is so famous. The Tom Sawyer Island caves, tree house, fishing docks and Fort Wilderness will receive a complete clean-up and spruce-up job, as well as any necessary repairs.
In addition, a new generator will be installed on the Sailing Ship Columbia and the H-beam rail, which guides the Mark and the Columbia, will undergo general repair and over-all improvement.
The entire river project is scheduled for completion about the middle of December and the river traffic should be back in full swing for the Chirstmas holidays.
WHERE, BUT IN DISNEYLAND?
by: Mark Tapscott
Many of you have at sometime in your lives, visited one or more of the nations famous art galleries and have marveled at the beauty and realism of the paintings and sculpture. But, did you know that here inthe Magic Kingdom we have a collection of art as worthy of acclaim as any of the paintings of the old masters?
Disneyland's life-like animation is just that, and with good reason. Where, but in Disneyland would a famous artist be employed to maintain the savage likeness of head hunters and hungry crocodiles, the beauty of graceful deer and mermaids, and the realism a giant squid and moray eels?
And who would be more qualified than Disneyland's pictorial artist Arnaldo Rubio. Arnaldo, a graudate of Mexico's National Academy of Fine Arts and protege' of Ramos Martinez, famous Mexican artist, is honored to the present generation and to posteriry with an array of paintings which have been acclaimed across the land.
To name a few: "Atlas" which hangs in the world famous Corcoran Galleries in Washington, D.C.; "The Flower Market," a mural enlivening the Leland Stanford University Gallery; and "The Ascension," A noted mural in St. Mary's Church in Los Angeles. Many of the well known murals which helped to acclaim the Los Angeles Public Library as one of the most renowned, are the works of Arnaldo.
When Arnaldo came to the Park a year and a half ago, he found that painting at Disneyland was an experience quite different than any he'd ever had. Here an artist is required to carry his pallet and brushes into dense jungles across vast plains and deserts thorugh hostile Indian country so that Disneyland's guests may enjoy more realistic trips on the Jungle Rivers of the World and across the arid wastes of the Painted Desert.
Unlike the paintings that hang in the nation's galleries, Disneyland's works of art must be continually retouched and sometimes re-created. Our galleries are found in many corners of the 160 acre area — under the mucky waters of jungle rivers, in the depths of the sea, atop a wooded hill or along a desert path exposed to wind, sun and rain.
And unlike the paintings, our masterpieces are not done in the usual oils but with specailly developed paints to withstand the weather and the prolonged emmersion in the water to reain the life-like animation Walt Disney created.
Where, but in Disneyland would an artist with pallet and paints exchange an easel and canvas for a friendly Indian or an African native?