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Liberty Square Riverboat

An attraction at the Magic Kindgom.

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The Liberty Belle Riverboat Offers Much for the Whole Family - In a Relaxing Way

  • Feb 11, 2011

Sometimes when visiting a Disney theme park, it is time to just relax and enjoy your surroundings. Such is the case when Mary Ann and I stopped to ride The Liberty Belle which is part of The Liberty Square Riverboat attraction in the Magic Kingdom. As we entered the area just past the Liberty Belle replica on the left and the Hall of Presidents on the right, we noticed the “Belle” would soon be pulling into dock. [I've included toward the end of this post, a great Liberty Bell voyage You Tube video by AllEars.Net.]

So we entered the waiting area, which is the landing for Deck Two of the ship, and sat on the bench awaiting its arrival. Interestingly, there is only one loading dock in the Disneyland version, but in Orlando they figured out that things would speed up if you could enter one way and leave another. In WDW, you disembark on the bottom deck.

The Liberty Belle transverses the Disney constructed Rivers of America, whose central land mass is Tom Sawyer Island. But to get there, you need to walk further along to a second dock and board a raft that takes you across the river to Tom’s Landing (which is the only way to get to the island). We haven’t been over that way is many trips, but plan to for our next, as it will be with the youngins.

The Liberty Square Riverboat is a real paddlewheel steamship, whose boiler room takes water from the Rivers of America, converts it to steam and powers the boat up and back the approximate half-mile tour around Tom Sawyer Island and other parts of Frontierland and Liberty Square.



If the scene reminds you of a Mark Twain novel, it should, as you’ll soon discover from the broadcast narration. There is plenty of interesting scenery along the way, including the Splash Mountain plunge, riders enjoying a whirl around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, woodland animals, a burning cabin, a hint of river pirates, Native American villagers and finally an eerie riverside manor that casts an ominous shadow alongside the shore, which is The Haunted Mansion.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from Rivers of America. By Coaster Gallery
Your surroundings do invoke the feeling of boarding a Mississippi River steamboat that Samuel Langhorne Clemens worked on and wrote about as Mark Twain, although this version never made if off Disney property where it was built. The total trip will take about 20 minutes and although there is a pilot, I’m told there is also a steel rail under the waterline (just like Jungle Cruise) guiding its way.

From BoatSafe.Com
Mark Twain came into the world as Samuel Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. His parents moved to Hannibal, Missouri while he was a young'un, and he spent his youth experiencing the adventures that shaped his life and colored his writings. At 24, he realized a boyhood dream when he was finally entrusted with the powers and duties of a steamboat pilot on April 9, 1859 in St. Louis.

Twain loved the paddlewheel steamboat and he loved the river. As a matter of fact, it was during his years on the river that he chose his pen name. "Mark Twain" was a frequent call of the leadsman. It meant that the water was 2 fathoms (12 feet) deep and indicated safe water.

A lead line is used to determine water depth and the type of material which makes up the bottom or riverbed. A 30-foot-long line is attached to a pipe filled with lead, except for the bottom 2 inches. (Modern lead lines are simply a solid round pipe-shaped piece of lead with a concave bottom) Material from the riverbed...mud, sand or potentially hazardous rock...collects in the lower, hollow end of the pipe.

The line itself, in the "Ol days", was probably made of manila, hemp or sisal, and had markings woven into the strands which represented various depths. Today's lead lines generally have polyester strands and bright colored plastic tags with actual numbers are woven into the strands
The leadsman is the person who "heaves the lead" and "sings the mark". In the days of Mark Twain, the mark meanings were actually sung as the paddle boat cautiously made its way along the river in potentially shallow water.

When full, The Liberty Belle will hold 450 people on the three decks and is accessible, but unfortunately I haven’t seen it at capacity for a very long time. You will pass scenes along the riverbank that are from the 1800’s; but you also get a great view when the runaway mine train of Big Thunder Mountain fly by along the shore.

The riverboat leaves the dock on the hour and half hour. When you need to relax, both in the queue and on your voyage, it does give your feet and legs a rest as you slowly make your way around the river. We enjoyed this attraction, because the scenery is typical Disney and the photo opportunities abound. The best view is on the top deck. Most of the space is standing room, but since it’s unusual for a full house, getting a bench seat if you need one is normally not a problem.


The Liberty Belle as night unfolds. Photo by Express Monorail 
The Liberty Belle Riverboat is just that. It's a boat that you can ride down the "river" in Liberty Square and Frontierland. On the way, you see some scenes that have been set up for you and overlook some of the rides. But it’s really nice to ride in the evening, when the boat is all lit up and your imagination is in high gear if you let it. Be especially aware of your surroundings when you get closer to the sounds from The Haunted Mansion.

You should check the Times Guide for any Disney “meet and greet” characters that might join you on your cruise, and during special events, there might even be some entertainment. Plus there are no refreshments on board to purchase, and also NO BATHROOMS, so go before you board since no matter what the kids need to do, they can’t until they get back to dry land.

The LibertyBelle Riverboat - AllEars.Net You Tube Video

From Wikipedia
The Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida at one time featured two riverboats: the Admiral Joe Fowler, a sidewheeler named for Disneyland's construction supervisor, and the Richard F. Irvine, a sternwheeler named for a WED executive.

The Admiral Joe Fowler served from October 2, 1971, one day after park opening, until the Fall of 1980, when it was retired less than ten years of operation. It was rumored to have been accidentally destroyed after falling from a crane onto its drydock.
The Richard F. Irvine came into service on May 20, 1973 but was renamed The Liberty Belle in 1996 after everything except for the hull, boiler, and engines was stripped off, and an all-new superstructure was constructed from aluminum and vinyl.

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February 11, 2011
This is my husband's favorite ride in MK. He can roll right on with his ECV, and enjoy the slower pace--and lower crowds. A must-do at least once per visit for our family. And we have a certain affection for the somewhat hokey scenery.
February 12, 2011
I agree. Sometimes we spend so much time rushing around to get into the next attraction, that we forgot how nice it is to stop and enjoy the environment you are in. Thank you for your comment.
About the reviewer
Bruce Brodsky ()
Ranked #116
Hi folks. My blog is A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World. I actually think it was watching a True-Life Adventure called the Living Desert that started my enthusiastic love of Disney. I must have … more
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Corporate Description: Liberty Square Riverboat is an authentic 3-tiered paddlewheel steamship journey that circles the Rivers of America at Magic Kingdom theme park for a scenic, half-mile tour of Frontierland, Liberty Square and Tom Sawyer Island.Board and depart the boat at the Colonial-American-inspired Liberty Square Riverboat Landing near The Hall of Presidents, and enjoy the recorded narration delivered in the voice of iconic American author Mark Twain throughout your journey.There is plenty of interesting scenery along the way, including the Splash Mountain plunge, riders enjoying a whirl around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, woodland animals, a burning cabin, hints of river pirates, Native American villagers and finally an eerie riverside manor that casts an ominous shadow alongside the shore—The Haunted Mansion.Liberty Square Riverboat provides a great opportunity to rest your feet and enjoy a bit of relaxation during a busy day of exploring Magic Kingdom theme park. However, it offers much more than a break from the action. Especially on the heavily-wooded backbend of the river, past Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the experience truly feels like you've entered another place and time.The Liberty BelleThe attraction is named Liberty Square Riverboat, but the ship itself is named the Liberty Belle. While the ship looks straight out of the 19th century, it was actually built in a dry dock on Disney property for the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World Resort.The 17-minute...
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