Apparently, about a month ago the “escape tunnel” from Fort Langhorn, in the Magic Kindom’s Tom Sawyer Island, was unceremoniously closed. I couldn’t get any confirmation from the front line Cast Members (who may indeed have not known anything) about the immediate future. Is the thing shut for refurbishment or down permanently? I hesitate to jump to conclusions. One always likes to give the benefit of the doubt. Then again, Disney has a habit of abusing that “benefit.” Just recently, they announced that the promised return of SpectroMagic is impossible, and the parade floats are badly decomposed and must be destroyed. And the world is still waiting for the return of both Light Magic and Rocket Rods at Disneyland, which were similarly put on “hiatus.”

April, 2013.

A refurbishment would be nice. The front-line CM we spoke with did say they tried to put up signs and barricades, and people kept ignoring them, so the tunnel entrance had to be differently closed up. Thus, today’s visitor will find no mention of the escape tunnel; just a door. And the “door” is really a plywood shape screwed into the opening. There are no hinges and this gives all the appearance of a permanent closure.

October, 2011

I do hope it comes back. Then again, I was also hoping for the return of SpectroMagic, too, so perhaps I’m naive to hope.

Not coming back.

At the end of the day, it *is* just a tiny little thing. Not that many hundreds (forget thousands) of people know about it or indeed could experience it if they wanted to; it’s more low-volume than that. But this is precisely why I love it. It’s a small detail and the sort of thing that could be overlooked if you were hasty in your survey of the area. It’s essentially an Easter egg in theme park format, and we all know that the public thrills in finding Easter eggs.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom excels in these kinds of discovery Easter eggs. Or rather, they did. Half the trails around the Tree of Life are closed now, and the other half are covered by nets, rendering the exploratory, expeditionary feeling a bit mute now. And some of the better Easter eggs are gone, like the path that looped around the main path between Asia and Africa that had a SECOND path looping off into the real, honest to goodness wilderness. An unpaved path you were encouraged to explore. It had stepping stones in running water, for crying out loud – how great was that?! These days, the stepping stones in water are gone; the path through the foliage blocked off (lawyers, you see). The only other stepping stones in water – for the Storm Slides (body slides) at Typhoon Lagoon – are similarly history. They’ve been paved over now, so the pathway is smooth. I guess theme takes a back seat to lawyering.

A smooth path now (for the last couple of years)

In the end, this could be much ado about nothing. I do hope the escape tunnel re-opens. But in the event it was a closure that will turn out to be permanent, I wanted to mark the occasion. Disney has shuttered things without much notice before, so anything is possible.

The Original Grimms

As a reminder, I’ve recently published a new translation of Grimms’ fairy tales that is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Every translation in English until now has been of the 7th edition of their stories – but I have translated the 1810 manuscript of their collection… for the first time ever in English. You will not believe how the stories have changed over time – and what it means for our understanding of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and others. The print version costs $6.99 and the Kindle version is $5.99.

More information and updates

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History. Readers are invited to connect with him online and face to face at the following locations: