The first brochure map produced of Tom Sawyer Island, this three-panel publication from 1956 features a hand-drawn map of the island with Tom and Huck overlooking, as well as brief descriptions of the island’s seven interactive attractions.
Tom Sawyer Island opened on June 16, 1956, at the start of Disneyland’s second summer season. The island stands as the only theme-park attraction ever hand-designed by Walt Disney himself.
After discarding several early concepts, including Mickey Mouse Island and Treasure Island, Walt settled on a Mark-Twain-inspired theme. Walt spoke several times about his admiration of Twain’s work. Furthermore, he’d grown up in Missouri, the setting for Tom Sawyer’s adventures, which meant both the stories and the Disneyland attraction held special places in his heart.
Continually dissatisfied with the designs his team of Imagineers (the likes of Claude Coats, Herb Ryman, Sam McKim, and Vic Greene) produced throughout the development of the island, Walt finally spent a night in his backyard barn workshop sketching out his vision for the attraction. The next morning, he presented it to artist Marvin Davis with the proclamation, “Now, that’s the way it should be.”
The island was built to Walt’s specifications and opened with a grand celebration, starring honorary guests Chris Winkler and Perva Lou Smith, the young Hannibal, Missouri, residents who’d recently been crowned the town’s first official Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher representatives. An order of catfish was flown in specially from Missouri, and an “old-fashioned fish fry” was held back on the mainland at the conclusion of the festivities.
The island, which guests reach by way of “log” rafts, boasts several interactive elements and landscape features from both the Twain stories, as well as original Disney designs. The first major refurbishment took place in 1992 on the southern end of the island to facilitate the park’s new nighttime entertainment offering, Fantasmic!. In 2007, the attraction was re-fitted with a pirate theme (to some opposition), becoming Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. Incarnations of the original island exist in both Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.
VALUE: This original version is the rarest of the Tom Sawyer Island maps, and thus generally fetches a significantly higher price than later printings. $60