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  1. #1

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    May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Fort Wilderness began welcoming guests in 1956.

    For four years, the stockade doors of Fort Wilderness have been closed—the fort was off limits to guests. Now Al Lutz is reporting that Disneyland management has decided proceed with demolition.

    What do you remember about Fort Wilderness? What are your thoughts on demolition?


    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Thanks for the article, Werner. I used to visit Disneyland once yearly for my birthday when I was younger. I don't remember ever visiting the Fort. I'm sure we did at least once or twice, but my memory fails me. I didn't start going to the park more often until around 2003. So unfortunately, I never really got to experience the Fort. It looks fun, historical, and with just the right amount of Disney cheesiness - similar to what you find along the Disneyland Railroad in the Grand Canyon Diorama. It's a shame that management let maitenance go. What a grand piece of park and American history to let fall my the wayside.

    Rest in piece Fort Wilderness.

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  3. #3

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Question -- DLP has something quite like Fort Wilderness at the entrance of its Frontierland. It does not however appear to be made out of fiberglass like WDW's, but of old fashioned sturdy timbers. Does that mean its days are counted? Or have they since perfected the art of wood preservation?

  4. #4

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    18th Century Log Cabin from the Revolutionary War in Valley Forge Pennsylvania, still standing in 2007 despite freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and humid hot summers:

    20th Century Log Fort built in Anaheim where the temperature stays fairly constant and there is no snow:

    Although I am sure termites and wood rot are a problem, if "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” was renamed “Pirates of the Caribbean: Fort Wilderness,” I am sure the park would have found a way to restore it.
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  5. #5

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Great article Werner. Always learn something new from your columns. It is indeed odd on the timing since the island is opening in a week.
    -Jack
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  6. #6

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Great article, W.

    I was into the cowboy thing big time when I was little, like every other boy in the country. Naturally, I loved TSI and Fort W, but my favorite thing about it was the secret tunnel. Even back then, it was less well-known than Injun Joe's cave, and less busy.

    One detail I remember about the tunnel that serves to illustrate the genius of the Imagineers: there were fossil fish on the walls in a couple of places. Easy to miss, but fun if you knew they were there. The sort of detail the Imagineers would throw in, knowing that someone somewhere would notice them and take delight in them.

  7. #7

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    Werner wrote, "In the mid-1990s, Disneyland management began to cut back on maintenance throughout the park to increase short-term profits—at a time when much of Disneyland was reaching an age when it needed more maintenance, not less."


    For this reason Paul Presler should NEVER be honored with his name in a window on Main Street. If it is already there it really should be removed.

    I spoke with him once and he seemed decent enough, but his memories and the millions he earned should be his "only" compensation. (Hmmm. Name in a window vs. millions. He could always put his names on windows at his mansion and vacation home.)

  8. #8

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I understand the practicality of this, but it breaks my heart to see it go. Even though it has been closed for years, just seeing it as one looks across the Rivers of America to the Island brought hope that "someday" we might enjoy it again. I bought my first Mountain Dew in that fort!

  9. #9

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I bought my first Mountain Dew in that fort![/quote]

    Me too, very sad and disappointing

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I mostly recall the apple juice, myself. And of course shooting things from the towers.

    I also recall the sign on the gates saying they would be closed in case of Indian attack -- not sure when/if that came down.

    I can understand why it needed to come down -- but I have to wonder why rebuilding it is out of the question. (With fiberglass logs, if need be.) It can't be all that expensive. I can see that they might need to wait till next year to do so, but why not?

  11. #11

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinniped View Post
    I can understand why it needed to come down -- but I have to wonder why rebuilding it is out of the question. (With fiberglass logs, if need be.) It can't be all that expensive. I can see that they might need to wait till next year to do so, but why not?
    I imagine that Disneyland management would want more financial return than they could get from rebuilding Fort Wilderness. It would not give them something that they could advertise in a big way to draw in guests. ("Come to Disneyland Park because we rebuilt Fort Wilderness and even put in new wax dummies of Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson.")

    Or, to put it another way, the same money could be better spent on additional Pirate's Lair features.

    Yes, it's a shame. I think that many people enjoyed the Fort, not just nostalgic baby boomers. Part of the charm of Disneyland is being able to escape to places that feel like they're two centuries in the past (and a million miles from Tomorrowland).

    I'll be interested to see the reaction to the Pirate's Lair.

    And I'll be interested to see what eventually rises on the site of Fort Wilderness.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  12. #12

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I don't miss it because of the fort at wdw.
    I remember growing up playing with the weapons, and I am sure my kids will at least get to visit the one on the east coast.

  13. #13

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    Wow, I just do not remember the fort! Maybe there wasn't enough pizazz for me. I am a People Mover kind of girl

    Thanks Werner!
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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I could see a new fort being built, however it may look like Port Royal's fort from the pirates movies.

    I've got nothing against pirates, but now that they are invading Frontierland, perhaps the whole land should be renamed to Historyland.

  15. #15

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    Re: May 18, 2007: Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island

    I do miss shooting things from the fort

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