Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.

TripSavvy / Betsy Malloy Photography

Tom Sawyer moved off his island in Disneyland's Rivers of America a few years ago, and the pirates took over.

From the land side of Rivers America, it looks like Lafitte's Tavern might be the only thing on the island, but it isn't. This place to run and play has lots of fun things to do. You can venture into Dead Man's Grotto to see some ghostly apparitions, get a scenic view from Tom and Huck's Treehouse, bounce across a rope bridge, climb to the top of the hill or go underground to look for pirate treasure. You can even dig up some of that pirate loot.

To get to the island, you take a short raft ride from New Orleans Square. The boarding area is near Haunted Mansion. You can also see it from the Mark Twain Riverboat or Sailing Ship Columbia.

The island a good place to go to get out of the crowds and hubbub in the rest of the park and you seldom have to wait more than a few minutes to get onto a raft. When you get there, the adults can find a shady spot to sit while the kids run around. Some people say a quick trip over to the island has saved their Disney day.

What You Need to Know About Pirate's Lair

  • Rating: ★★
  • Location: Adventureland
  • Recommended for:  Kids who need to burn some excess energy
  • Fun Factor:  Medium to low
  • Wait Factor: Low. I have never seen a line at the treehouse.

How to Have More Fun at the Pirates Lair

  • To see the burning settler's cabin on the north end of the island, you have to take one of the boats. Once upon a time, it actually lit up with fire.
  • You may want to be sure the kids have sturdy shoes for running around on the island.
  • There are restrooms on the island and water fountains, but no food or beverage vendors. The wait for the restrooms can get long, and you might want to use the ones in New Orleans Square before you go.
  • Reviewers at Yelp give the island fairly high ratings. They say "Overall a great place for kiddos to run around and play pirates" and "Nothing too spectacular. Plus your shoes gets dirty." You can read more of their comments here.
  • The island is at its best from midday until it closes at sunset
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Fun Facts About Pirate's Lair

PIrate's Lair from the Rivers of America
Loren Javier/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This attraction was originally Tom Sawyer Island, based on the character in the Mark Twain novels. It opened one year after Disneyland's opening day and is the only Disneyland attraction designed by Walt Disney himself. He was unhappy with the original design, so he took the plans home and redid them, just days before construction began.

In 2007, Tom Sawyer's Island was rethemed as the Pirate's Lair, with added references to the popular Pirates of the Caribbean films.

You'll find a lot of similar island in Disney parks worldwide. In Florida and Tokyo, it's still called Tom Sawyer Island. The islands in Paris and Hong Kong have different themes.

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More About Pirate's Lair

Treasure at Pirate's Lair
Loren Javier/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0


To board one of the rafts in a wheelchair or ECV, enter through the standard queue. Many pathways are also accessible for those vehicles.

You can get around on the island, but to fully experience it, you will have to navigate dirt trails, bridges, steep inclines and narrow passages. Restrooms are wheelchair accessible. 

More about visiting Disneyland in a wheelchair or ECV

More Walk-Through Attractions at Disneyland

If you'd rather walk than ride, you'll find a lot of things to do in Disneyland. In fact, you can explore ten walk -through attractions and see parts of Disneyland that many other visitors miss. 

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