Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island Frontierland Disneyland
Adventurers both young and not-so-young can explore this pirate paradise – making their way through spooky caves, climbing through treehouses and even finding pirate treasure.
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island is located in the middle of the Rivers of America. The island is only accessible via raft – the raft dock is located on the water’s edge near the Haunted Mansion. The rafts hold about 30 people – there are a few places to sit, but most passengers must stand during the short trip over to the island. A map of the island is available from Cast Members when boarding the raft.
Once on the island there are a variety of areas to explore:
Dead Man’s Grotto – This dark and narrow series of caves harbors a number of pirate scenes and a few startling special effects, such as a “bottomless” pit with a pirate skeleton, a cask holding Davy Jones’ beating heart, and a hoard of pirate treasure guarded by a spooky pop-up head and a skeletal arm and eyeball.
Smuggler’s Cove – This area has multiple activities where would-be pirates can burn off a little steam. A pontoon bridge crosses the cove over water while a suspension bridge keeps explorers high and dry. A scaled-down version of the “bone cage” from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is available as a photo-op. On the water’s edge treasure seekers can man the bilge pumps and reveal pirate treasure aboard a sunken ship, or wind the capstan and raise up a treasure chest which has a little something extra attached!
Castle Rock – steep and winding stairs lead to the top of this lookout point, which has spyglasses pointing in all directions.
Shipwreck – the stern portion of a beached ship.
Captain’s Treasure – Piles of gold doubloons and treasure chests plus a large Jolly Roger flag provides a great backdrop for photos.
Tom and Huck’s Tree House – climb the ladder and some steep steps to the top of the tree house. Inside are pirate “masks” painted on the walls – the eyes are spy hole cutouts.
Will Turner’s Blacksmith Shop – Will’s tools and works-in-progress are visible inside. The waterwheel outside the building slowly turns and causes some things inside the building to move around.
Lafitte’s Tavern – The Bootstrappers, a roving pirate band, perform here several times a day. They invite the audience to participate as they sing sea chanteys and tell tall stories.
The rafts to Pirate’s Lair generally start operating 30 minutes after the park opens, and the island closes at dusk. The rafts load and unload fairly quickly, so there’s usually not too much of a wait. For some reason there seems to be a longer line to leave the island than there is to go to the island.
There are water fountains on the island but no food or beverages are sold there. Some benches and picnic tables are available, and a checkerboard is set up at the back of Lafitte’s Tavern (upper level). There are a lot of trees on the island which provide some shade.
The rafts and most of the paths on the island are wheelchair accessible, but the caves, lookout points, etc. are not, as they are too narrow or have steps or ladders. The Pirate’s Point stage area is accessible via an elevator – ask a Cast Member for assistance.
The passages in some of the caves are very narrow, which could be an issue for those who are claustrophobic. In Dead Man’s Grotto people tend to stop when looking at the different scenes, blocking the passageway so there’s no way to move forward or back until the people ahead start to move again.
There are restrooms on the island but they accommodate very few guests so there can be a substantial wait.
Captain Dead Man’s Grotto has some dark and spooky areas that could be scary for some kids.
No food is available on the island itself, but there are many dining establishments available in nearby New Orleans Square.
The French Market – Jambalaya, Po’Boy sandwiches, salads, red beans and rice.
Cafe Orleans – table service restaurant serving a variety of salads and New Orleans specialties like Monte Cristo sandwiches, gumbo, and crepes.
Pieces of Eight in New Orleans Square offers a wide variety of pirate-themed merchandise.
In recognition of the original attraction, the pirates refer to the original inhabitants of the island – Tom Sawyer the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, and Huck Finn the Red-Handed.
Pintel and Ragetti, the bickering pirates from the movies, provide the disembodied head and hand/eyeball in one of the scenes in Dead Man’s Grotto.
“Jack Sparrow’s Swashbuckling Adventure” was a stunt show performed on the island’s stage after the conversion to Pirate’s Lair. The high-energy show featured sword-fighting, acrobatic stunts and cannon fire as Captain Jack Sparrow and fellow pirates battled each other for possession of a treasure map. The show ended in January, 2008.
Rope bridge over Smuggler’s Cove
Ship’s hold at Smuggler’s Cove before the bilge is pumped
After the bilge is pumped
Bone cage at Smuggler’s Cove
Pontoon bridge at Smuggler’s Cove
“The Castle” lookout point
Observation post (with “spyglass”) at The Castle
Captain’s Treasure – Meet and Greet/Photo area
Inside of Tom and Huck’s Tree House
Pirate portrait (Tom Sawyer, Black Avenger of the Spanish Main) – the eyes are cut-out spyholes
Pirate portrait (Huck Finn the Red Handed)
Steep steps up to the tree house.
Will Turner’s blacksmith shop.
Interior of the blacksmith shop.
Raft to Pirate’s Lair.
Photos from the Pirate Stunt Show:
Kayla and her pirate co-hort seek pirate recruits.
Captain Jack emerges from the Casque of the Unknown.
Captain Jack and the Casque of the Unknown
Captain Jack and Kayla
The other claimant of the treasure map makes his entrance.
Sword fight – two against one!
Captain Jack and the map.
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