The Disney riverboats are paddle steamer watercraft attraction ride vehicles that operate on a track at a number of Disney theme parks around the world.
The first was the Mark Twain Riverboat, which is located in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and takes guests on a picturesque 12-minute cruise along the Rivers of America. The stately, 5/8-scale stern-wheeler, originally dubbed Mark Twain Steamboat when the park opened in 1955, was the first working riverboat built in the United States in 50 years.
Passengers queue within a protected area in the Frontierland section of the park for the 150-ton, 28-foot-high (8.5 m), 105-foot-long (32 m) riverboat, which departs every 25 minutes. The waiting room is designed to look like a true riverboat loading station, with freight deliveries sharing dock space. At the attraction’s entryway, historic US flags are displayed.
Passengers on board Mark Twain are free to travel about her three levels. The bow of the lower deck features chairs. During the cruise, the upper deck gives a vantage point for viewing landmarks. The upper deck houses the wheelhouse, where Mark Twain’s pilot is stationed. To provide the impression that this is the captain’s living quarters, the lower level of the wheelhouse has sleeping rooms and a sink.
The pilot uses a horn and bell system to communicate the departure and arrival of Mark Twain, as well as numerous signals to other river craft attractions. The riverboat is not maneuvered by the pilot because it travels along a secret I-beam guide rail throughout the journey. Instead, the pilot keeps an eye out for other river traffic, such as Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes and Rafts to Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and reports his findings to the boiler engineer. The boiler engineer works on the bottom deck, towards the stern. The throttle and reverser are positioned here. The boiler engineer controls the riverboat’s speed and forward or reverse direction from here. Steam from the boiler powers the paddle wheels, which propel the ship along its path.
The Rivers of America cruise around Tom Sawyer Island includes pre-recorded navigational orders from Jim Etchison and Peter Renaday. Stephen Stanton, a Disney voice actor, plays the captain, who recalls his days as a riverboat captain.
When the park opens on most days, Mark Twain begins operations. The riverboat that plays a role in Fantasmic! will close a couple of hours before showtime on days when the show is being presented. On other occasions, Mark Twain will run throughout the evening, illuminating locations with a rooftop spotlight, with the final ride beginning roughly 30 minutes before park closing.
Next Point of Interest: Storybook Land Canal Boats