Tom Sawyer Island Brochure Map (1959)

The third brochure map produced of Tom Sawyer Island, this smaller (compared to the previous year’s version) three-panel publication on white paper (rather than cream) from 1959 features the same layout, map, and seven attractions as the 1957 edition.

The differences in text are as follows: the “U.S.A.” has been removed from the front cover’s Disneyland logo; the line designating Tom and Huck’s Tree House as “the highest landpoint in Disneyland” has been removed from the attraction description (the honor now belonging to the newly-constructed Matterhorn Mountain; similarly, the “highest point in Disneyland” annotation from the map is gone; and finally, the raft traffic via Indian Village has ceased per the absence of the arrows and annotation on the map. Though a later printing, the copyright information, both on the front cover and interior panels, remains identical to the 1957 version—the cause for much confusion among collectors.

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: Due to the same basic design and color scheme being used in later reprints, there is much confusion among buyers as to what edition they are actually getting. This version usually doesn’t go for quite as much as the larger-sized true 1957 map, but their value is comparable. $30

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