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Liberty Belle Riverboat
Liberty Square Riverboat

Opened

October 2, 1971

Land

Liberty Square

The Liberty Belle Riverboat is an attraction, located at the Magic Kingdom theme park of Walt Disney World, on which passengers embark on a scenic, 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America.

History[]

The Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida at one time featured two riverboats: the Admiral Joe Fowler, a sidewheeler named for Disneyland's construction supervisor, and the Richard F. Irvine, a sternwheeler named for a WED executive.

The Admiral Joe Fowler served from October 2, 1971, one day after park opening, until the fall of 1980, when it was retired after less than ten years of operation. It was rumored to have been accidentally destroyed after falling from a crane onto its drydock.

The Richard F. Irvine came into service on May 20, 1973 but was renamed The Liberty Belle in 1996 after everything except for the hull, boiler, and engines was stripped off, and an all-new superstructure was constructed from aluminum and vinyl.

Attraction Description[]

Passengers wait for the 28-foot-high (8.5 m), 105-foot-long (32 m) riverboat, which departs every 25 minutes, from inside an area located in theLiberty Square section of the park. Upon boarding the 150-ton riverboat, passengers are free to move about the vessel's three levels. The lower deck's bow has chairs, which are the only seating on board. The upper deck provides a vantage point for viewing landmarks throughout the voyage.

The wheelhouse, where the riverboat's pilot is stationed, is also located on the upper deck. At the pilot's discretion, a small number of passengers may be given permission to ride in the wheelhouse for the voyage, after which they are presented with souvenir Pilot Certificates.

The pilot signals the departure and arrival of the Liberty Belle using a horn and bell system, along with various signals to other river craft attractions. Because the riverboat travels along an I-beam guide rail throughout the ride, the pilot does not maneuver the ship. Instead, the pilot serves as lookout for other river traffic, such as the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island, and communicates his observations with the boiler engineer. The boiler engineer is stationed on the bottom deck towards the stern. This is where the throttle and reverser are located. From here, the boiler engineer controls the speed and direction of the riverboat. Steam from the boiler is used to power the paddle wheels and thus pushes the craft along its guide way.

The voyage on the Rivers of America around Tom Sawyer Island features pre-recorded narration by a riverboat guide voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft, another actor portraying Mark Twain, who speaks of his days piloting a riverboat, and by the (not present) "captain" of the ship, voiced by Rex Allen.

Sources & External Links[]

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