The biggest patch of water in any Disney Kingdom (but one) stream in Frontierland (or Westernland) There you can hop on big riverboats or paddle your way on an indian canoe! One park even still let you ride Keel Boats. Those gentle streams are the most affecting Disney Wow after Main Street Perspectives, this article is about the 4 Rivers of the 5 Magic Kingdoms.
All 4 rivers encircle an Island. In Anaheim, Orlando and Tokyo, Tom Sawyer Island sit in their middle. Only Disneyland Paris, (having it’s Tom Sawyer-like playing area put on antother island in another land) gets its “Rivers of the Far West” encircling a deserted Island where only crazy mine trains rush in an out of its rocks : Big Thunder Mountain Island.
Now for shape and disposition as seen on the satellite images, Disneyland and Walt Disney World use the same design. Tokyo on the other half, for the special design of its Kingdom, statched its Rivers on top left angle horizontaly in order to have the larger portion of it adjacent to the park. Only in Paris are the Rivers in the bottom left corner, as its Frontierland.
Now this shape and location part may seem irrelevant, but it is not.
See not in every park are the Rivers really part of the scenery. In Disneyland and Walt Disney World a large portion of Frontierland plus Liberty Square or New Orleans Square borders the water and makes it a quite recurrent “walk by” feature.
In Disneyland Paris you can walk by almost the whole pound from Phantom Manor cemetery to the Pocahontas playful area lengthing the “Walk-By” by a few meters.
In Tokyo though the Rivers have a very limited influence on the Kingdom general feel. As seen in a previous article they are encircled by the Disneyland Railroad tracks underneath which you have to walk to acess the Riverboat Landing.
Even when you stand in line for Big Thunder Mountain also located on the other side of the “air track” can’t you see the Rivers. They seem contained to the apperciation of the people really sailing them. Beside standing in front of the Landing, the train track lays between you and the rivers.
No this scroling portions of the rivers are not only a boardwalk like feature, it’s also a wonderful moving sight animated by the many embarkations which inhabit the Rivers.
There are 3 Mark Twain Riberboats around the Kingdoms and they are exact replicas. Beside them, 3 unique hulls stream along the Rivers of America and the french Rivers of the Farwest.
In Disneyland you can either ride the good old Mark Twain Riverboat or the 18th century Sailing Ship Columbia
In Walt Disney World, even though two boats used to sail the rivers, after the original Joe Fowler boat (another Mark Twain replica) cracked its hull in a dock accident, only the last of the two remained and was renamed the Liberty Belle.
In Disneyland Paris you can pick the original Mark Twain, or the unique steamer Molly Brown with two sided wheels specialy designed for Paris. They were both present on opening.
Sadly, Tokyo Disneyland only hosts one boat, the last Mark Twain Replica.
Leaning down from the railing of those sailing wonders, you may get lucky enough to see the very rare other cruising alternatives left. Those more adventurous rowers have had a hard time keeping afloat in Kingdoms history.
Only Disneyland seemed able to keep the Canoes when every other parks had to pull them down in the late 90’s.
Paris holds one big exclusivity which used to delight kids and parents in every other parks: the River Rogue Keel Boats.
Less than 2 years ago, after many legal and administrative hurdles Paris finaly was able to reopen this long missed attraction, refloating the last Keel Boats ever to cruise on a Disney river.
Canoes only in Disneyland, Keel Boats only in Disneyland Paris, not so much left of the rest. The Rafts would you say ?
They are parts of the Rivers panoramas in every 4 River equiped parks but Disneyland Paris which doesn’t host a “walkable” Island in its middle. But they’re bound with Tom Sawyer Island, and therefor to another article.
Taking a row at sea level or a breather high above it, the Rivers real attractions are what you see on the way. Many waiting-to-be-spotted installations spread along the voyage are famous in every parks.
All of them stroll by their own Big Thunder Mountain making it one big sight of the journey . The indian village is observed in every rivers, the old guy and its goat rocks his chair in Orlando and Paris.
Now one attraction long gone from the riversides of Disneyland is the no-more-burning cabin. Well this Disneyland vestige is still actively showing its flames and fumes in Tokyo and Orlando.
Another unique River “accessory” is the Yellow Stone inspiration which gave birth to a classy erosion sculpted arch that spreads over Paris’ Rivers of the Far West. It faces a very Yellow-Stonish the Geyser Park.
Still Disneyland may have the most proped Rivers as many details, animated or not, have been added through its running years. And let’s not forget the many
ancient artifacts from the park which use this area as a well deserved resting place. Only citing the Train to Nature’s Wonderland wreck and one of the earlier discussed Keel Boat.
Mark Twain’s not so fictual vision or National Park legacy have inspired the 4 Disney Rivers spread around the globe. They’re all a true hommage to american heritage and take a very prominant part in their Kingdom, not only by space but mostly by the wonderful landscape they create. No one can recall a Disney park and not remember when his eyes first fell on the water, the ships, the vegetation and the props that make the 3 Rivers of America and their Rivers of the Far West sister the wildest man made rivers on earth.
Credits : Flickr users StartedByAmouse, Cholski
On a more personal note, a lot of work, and a well deserved vacation following it made it very difficult for me to keep 5 Kingdoms properly nourished.
Thank you for your patience, there will be many more articles and posts.