It seems inevitable that "Pirates Lair at Tom Sawyer Island" is a go. Many have already expressed concern about how to transport guests to the island when the level of interest skyrockets past its current levels come next May.
I have a (relatively) simple solution. Make the Mark Twain serve as transportation to the island.Originally Posted by Al Lutz
How so? Guests would still board the Mark Twain from the station in Frontierland. However, once the boat gets halfway around the Rivers of America, past New Orleans Square, there is a path on the island that comes right to the edge of the water, near Fort Wilderness and just across from the Hungry Bear eating area. This would become a new riverboat dock. The Mark Twain would make a stop here, and guests can get off to explore the island and come on board later, or just stay on for the trip.
With a passenger load of 390 guests, and assuming the riverboat can make about two full round trips in an hour (including the time spent loading and unloading at both ports) and also taking into account that not necessarily everyone gets off at the island, the Mark Twain has the potential to put around 600 guests on the island and take back 600 guests to Frontierland every hour.
If the allure to visit Pirates Lair is especially tremendous (as it no doubt will be for the first weeks and through the summer) and every means of transportation is needed, the Mark Twain could go to mandatory disembarking at every station. However, the flip side could also be true; if there is a particularly slow day when the rafts can manage on their own or whenever Tom Sawyer Island is closed, the second station would simply not be used and the Mark Twain would make a full round trip, no stops. Of course, guests would be informed of this at the Frontierland station and at Tom Sawyer Island as well.
There are a couple of logistical things with this system of operation that would need to be worked out. First and foremost, the Mark Twain itself doesn't have a 'gate' on the starboard side to let people get on and off. As far as I am aware, that could be built without too much of a problem (certainly more easily than the Sailing Ship Columbia, which I am not even considering; more on that later). Next, is the Mark Twain close enough to the island at that particular point to make a dock possible? I can't quite picture if it is or not, but I'm pretty sure. Re-routing the track in the river is out of the question of course. Lastly, what would happen to the Sailing Ship Columbia when both boats are operating at the same time? Well, as far as I can figure, it would just sit in the station until it gets the clearance from the Mark Twain that the riverboat has continued on its way. And one last thing- while the Mark Twain is sitting at this new Island dock, it wouldn't be getting in the way of Davy's Canoes, would it?
Is my idea too far-fetched? (Personally, I consider it one level below building a bridge/tunnel over/under the RoA.) Who here is offended? Confused? Indifferent?