Artifact / Riff: d!snëy Tom Sawyer Island (brochure and notes about h/yippie occupation)

I have only visited Disney-branded theme parks twice, both at the *classic location* in Anaheim, CA, USA.

The first time (1979?) stands out as it was on a trip with my Mom, aunt and various cousins in which we went to Salt Lake City and then to Anaheim, staying in hotels, eating room service, pay-per-view hotel movies and whatnot. Most significant though was auditioning for a game show, two iirc, “children’s versions“ of Jokers Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough. {artifacts exist and will be shared under separate cover}.

Have you visited Tom Sawyer island? Were you part of the occupation? What’s there now if anything? This is a blurry photo, blurry like my memories

Anyhow, the park itself I found a bit hectic and crowded and preferred the quiet corners: enjoying a Carnation milkshake, hitting a shop which embroidered my name onto a floppy hat, and the Country Bear Jamboree – also recall something about a jungle cruise and a tiki room and riding a gondola which fit my speed moreso then Matterhorn or Space Mountain with their long lines and short attention span. Oh, Caribbean Pirates, and Haunted Mansion… It’s all coming back to me now.

Anyhow, I suppose fitting with my nature, Tom Sawyer Island was my favorite. I wondered, “how was it that a place was left mellow & leafy, not built up and not filled with noises and lights in amongst this jumble of manufactured excitement?”

This impression stuck with me and it wasn’t until years later, mentioning this to (I think) Larry Harper who told me about a “y/hippie occupation” of the lil island in the 70s. Unsurprisingly, this was well sanitized from the “official corporate history” of the uncompromising, brand-conscious company but of course, various recounting exist. A link round-up follows below.

Anyhow, why we are here is: Going through my archives, the only Disney ephemera in collection (so far at least) is a brochure (not sure what the purpose of a brochure is since you’re already there and I don’t think anyone buys the golden ticket just to go there) of the humble island.

Which then led me to wonder, “is it still there?” as in: “is Tom Sawyer Island still in attraction? Or has the valuable real estate been co-opted for some other shinier whoop-de-do?”

I put forth this question to an LA-area-centric podcast/blog so maybe I can find out some more. {Of course I could just Internet this, but where’s the fun in that?}

I also have curiosity/concerns about Disney’s co-opting of other entity’s intellectual property. Clearly, they’ve made a business out of using Grimm’s fairytales, Aesop’s fables and so on and claiming (with legal fortitude) these folk tales as their own property/content. Was Sam Clemens’ work in public domain when they made the park? Hurrah public domain and fair use!

“Occupation of Tom Sawyer Island” link round up, external sources, your mileage may vary, govern yourself accordingly:

One of the several “board game props“ used in my SxSawyer preso, 2013

Another note: you probably know by now but at SxSW 2013, I presented a keynote called “Crowd-sourcing Community Projects like Tom Sawyer” and have used the example from Mark Twain’s classic about Tom Sawyer cajoling his friends into painting the fence as a metaphor for many of my community building for organizations and business spiels.

Whatcha think?