GILBERTINE & THE EXCHANGE (Volume One) — Chapter 6: Disneyland, Part 3

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We did take time for both the Mad Tea Party

and Flying Dumbos

after lunch, before rushing over to the Golden Horseshoe

in time for the show.

 

This had all entailed a great deal of running – or at least what had passed for running with me – and I was glad to finally rest at the Golden Horseshoe Revue take in the rowdiness, even if one of the ‘saloon girls’ flustered me a bit by sidling next to me and briefly draped her boa and one leg over me (Dad may have had a hand in that).

 

 

Then, more rest on the Mark Twain paddlewheeler.

A mob had hit by then, and Dad and I knew just where to go to avoid it: Tom Sawyer’s Island.

 

From the time we arrived at Tom’s landing and the old mill, I knew this would be different from the rest of Disneyland. More peaceful, of course, and no long lines — but also different just in the very nature of the place. 

Initially, the island was said to have been grass and greenery. It took over a year to make it into the place that Mark Twain had written about, and that Disney had remembered from his childhood.

It still has plenty of greenery and shade trees, with benches and picnic tables where you can rest or bring a sack lunch. There are no rides or attractions in the usual sense, and the only dark areas are the caves; it’s an adventure with forests, bridges, caves, forts and all the things Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would’ve experienced all those years ago.

 

The first place Dad and I went (while Mum rested some more) was Tom and Huck’s Treehouse, atop the highest tree on the highest hill on all of the island. It was once the highest point in all Disneyland, and is still the highest in all of Frontierland and the Rivers of America. You get a fantastic view of all of the island, especially of Fort Wilderness on the far end of the island, along with village of hostile Indians, Castle Rock and all kind of wildlife (animatronic, but still). You can also see into most of Frontierland and Adventureland, as well. The sound of a quiet stream running downhill from near the base of the tree adds a great deal to the sense of tranquility.

 

From there, it was a short distance to Castle Rock and the cave that was the ‘castle dungeon.’ The three of us went to the dungeon, then climbed the stairs up to near the pinnacle — the top turrets of ‘the castle.’

On the opposite side from the stairway is a teacup-shaped rock, that moves about like a top that’s called ‘teeter-totter rock.’ Dad and Mum refused to get on it, but I did — it felt as though I was tipping back and forth in what seemed to be a kind of shallow nest.

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As we walked down the hill thereafter we came to a sign.

Mum and Dad took the more sedate approach, but I ‘barreled’ across the pontoon bridge and waited for them on the other side.

We went round the corner to Injun Joe’s cave where we encountered another sign.

There were spooky wind-like sounds coming from within the cave, but the air was so cool on a hot summer day, and smelled so fresh and clear, that even Mum wanted to go in. And it was dark and spooky — even though we were walking through, it was the closest thing to a ‘dark ride’ on the island.

We were having a fine time, and got off the the side to let several people who came in after us go by. But, eventually a large crowd came in at once, and we were obliged to mosey our way toward the exit, and back up to the suspension bridge. There was quite a crowd on it, including the people we’d let pass us by, and the ones who had herded us out of the cave, With such a line, the bridge didn’t swing as freely as it might have otherwise — just enough to make Mum a bit nervous.

Near the far north end of the island is Fort Wilderness—last outpost of civilization.

It is set during the Napoleonic wars, but Americans tend to see, this as a separate war in its own right, and call it ‘The War of 1812.’ The United States flag has only 15 stars — and 15 stripes to go with them. In Regimental Hdqrs., Davy Crockett and George Russell, Army Scouts, are seen reporting to Maj. General Andrew Jackson during the Cherokee Indian Campaign.

 

There’s a blacksmith, with metalwork on display.

And a canteen, where you can purchase snacks and beverages — as well as quite an array of crafted items.


But it’s reassuring to know there’s an exit tunnel when the going gets tough — even if it does bring on a bit of claustrophobia in places along the way.

We came out near the water line of the eastern part of the island, amongst the deer, moose, bear and other (animatronic) wildlife of the primitive forest. We continued down the water line, eventually turning inland when we reached the suspension bridge, retracing Mum and Dad’s steps down the more sedate route they’d taken when I’d crossed using the barrel pontoon bridge. We passed Injun Joe’s cave, then went by the fishing pier (you could go fishing there when the island first opened, but they don’t allow it anymore.

We took the raft back to the mainland, before going off to another of Walt Disney’s childhood memories with high hopes, but — as it turned out — rather mixed results.

 

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