Everything You Need to Know About the Liberty Square Riverboat

You’re going on vacation to Walt Disney World! The only problem? You’re not sure which attractions are right for you and your kiddos and you have questions. Which attractions are too intense for little ones? What rides do I really need a FastPass+ reservation for? What’s the disability access like for certain attractions? We’re answering all those questions and more in our Everything You Need to Know attraction series with today’s focus on Walt Disney World’s Liberty Square Riverboat!

What is the Liberty Square Riverboat?

The Liberty Belle Riverboat is a large, steam-powered paddle-wheel riverboat which travels down the Rivers of America and around Tom Sawyer Island and docks at Liberty Square.

Where is the Liberty Square Riverboat?

Guests can access the Liberty Belle Riverboat at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square.

What is the History of the Liberty Square Riverboat?

On October 2, 1971, the Admiral Joe Fowler, named after Disneyland’s construction supervisor, debuted at the Magic Kingdom the day after the park’s official opening offering cruises down the Rivers of America. In 1973, the Richard F. Irvine, named after the Disney executive who oversaw the planning and design of Walt Disney World, also made its debut. Both ships operated together until 1980. The best way to tell the two apart back then was their number of smokestacks. The Admiral Joe Fowler had two while the Richard F. Irvine only had one.

In 1996, the Richard F. Irvine was overhauled and renamed The Liberty Belle. It still offers cruises around the Rivers of America today. However, two of the three ferry boats transporting guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom are now named the Admiral Joe Fowler and Richard F. Irvine.

Through the years, the scenery along the Rivers of America has changed quite a bit. One of the biggest changes was the addition of Tom Sawyer Island in 1973 and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in 1980.

What Do You Need to Know About the Queue for the Liberty Square Riverboat?

The only waiting required to enjoy the Liberty Square Riverboat these days is waiting for the boat to leave. The elegant, colonial entry has guests board the boat at mid-level while disembarking guests exit from the lower deck.

What Do You Need to Know About the Ride Experience on the Liberty Square Riverboat?

The Liberty Belle Riverboat has four levels each offering limited seating but with plenty of space to stand and move about. A horn and bell system are used throughout the journey, so be prepared for occasional loud noises. The attraction also offers a soundtrack mainly narrated by an actor portraying Mark Twain. He shares his knowledge of the river and points out landmarks along the way.

During the journey, guests get to see sights on Tom Sawyer Island, woodland animals, a Native American village, and even Wilson’s Cave Inn from Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. The riverboat also offers unique perspectives of Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and particularly Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I highly recommend it for photographers or super fans of the park.

The Liberty Belle is massive and feels very stable even though it’s churning through the water. It also moves rather slowly. Guests are free to move about during the 17-minute trip.

I would definitely recommend the Liberty Belle for families with young kids as the boat offers seating along with space to move about. It’s also a great escape from the crowds.

Disney Historians will especially appreciate the Liberty Belle experience, not just because it’s a classic attraction but also for its references to the park’s former Mike Fink Keel Boat attraction. In fact, guests aboard will see a keel boat outside of Wilson’s Cave Inn and enjoy a close-up view of the attraction’s former dock in front the entrance to the Haunted Mansion.

What Do You Need to Know About Accessibility for the Liberty Square Riverboat?

Guests may remain in a wheelchair/ECV to experience the Liberty Belle Riverboat.

What Do You Need to Know About Health and Safety Advisories for the Liberty Square Riverboat?

There are no health or safety advisories for the Liberty Belle Riverboat.

What are the Height Restrictions for the Liberty Square Riverboat?

There is no height restriction for the Liberty Belle Riverboat! Everyone in the family can enjoy this classic attraction.

Is FastPass+ Available for the Liberty Square Riverboat?

FastPass+ is not offered for this attraction.

Will Weather Affect the Liberty Square Riverboat?

A June storm pops over World Drive as a rainy afternoon gets started.

Inclement weather can affect the operation of the Liberty Belle Riverboat.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Experience the Liberty Square Riverboat?

The Liberty Belle Riverboat rarely has a wait these days, meaning if it’s at the Liberty Square dock and accepting guests, it’s almost always a walk-on. However, those looking to enjoy this attraction should note that it does close earlier than the park and other park attractions.

Did I answer all of your questions about the Liberty Belle Riverboat? Is this attraction at the top of your family’s vacation to-do list? Let us know in the comments.

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

One thought on “Everything You Need to Know About the Liberty Square Riverboat

  • August 10, 2021 at 10:48 am

    Hello! Are people able to ride twice in a row without disembarking? I’m wondering if my child falls asleep, if we can just stay on and let them nap (if there isn’t a long line, of course).


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