Description And Comments

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island manages to impart something of a sense of isolation from the rest of the part. It has hills to climb, tipsy bridges to cross, paths to follow, and a "rock-climbing" play area. It's a delight for adults but a godsend for children who have been in tow all day.

As an aside, a mother of four from Duncan, South Carolina, found Tom Sawyer Island as much a refuge as an attraction, writing:

I do have one tip for parents. In the afternoon, when the crowds were at their peak, the weather was hottest, and the kids started lagging behind, our organization began to suffer. We then retreated over to Tom Sawyer Island, which proved to be a true haven. My husband and I found a secluded bench and regrouped. Meanwhile, the kids were able to run freely in the shade. Afterwards, we were ready to tackle the park again refreshed and with direction once more.

Capitalizing on the successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Disney restyled Tom Sawyer Island as a "Pirate's Lair" in 2007. Though it's still a children's adventure playground, the island now has sets from the films such as William Turner's blacksmith shop, and story artifacts like Elizabeth Swann's love letters tucked into every nook and cranny. Included in the makeover are a number of special effects and gadgets. Kids exploring the caverns of Dead Man's Grotto will encounter spooky voices, ghostly apparitions, and buried treasure. Elsewhere, a sunken chest can be discovered by operating a hoist.

Evidently, you can't have a pirate's lair without a bunch of gore. A pop-up head and moving skeletal arm are just the beginning. There's also a "bone cage," and our favorite, a treasure chest containing Davy Jones's beating heart.

Sadly, signature elements of the island like the cave and tree house have been closed more often than they have been open in recent years due to safety and maintenance issues, significantly diminishing the attraction's entertainment value.

Touring Tips

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island is not one of Disneyland Park's more celebrated attractions, but it's certainly one of the most well done. Attention to detail is excellent and kids particularly revel in its adventuresome atmosphere. We think it's a must for families with children ages 5 to 15. If your party has only adults, visit the island on your second day, or stop by on your first day if you have seen the attractions you most wanted to see. We like the island from about noon until the island closes at dusk. Access is by raft from Frontierland, and you may have to stand in line to board both coming and going. Two or three rafts operate simultaneously, however, and the round trip is usually pretty time efficient. Tom Sawyer Island takes about 30 minutes or so to see, but many children could spend a whole day.

Special Comments

The place for rambunctious kids; closes at dusk.

Special Needs

Other Attractions in Frontierland

Touring Plans with Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

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