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Complete Guide to Liberty Square Riverboat at Magic Kingdom

Complete Guide to Liberty Square Riverboat at Magic Kingdom

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom while learning a little bit about American history? Then welcome aboard the Liberty Square Riverboat!

You’ll ride the majestic  Liberty Belle  riverboat for a half-mile tour around  Tom Sawyer Island .

On this 17-minute trip, you’ll hear the voice of iconic American author and humorist, Mark Twain, sharing some of his memories of life on the Mississippi. You’ll also encounter a rarely-seen side of the Magic Kingdom.

It’s full steam ahead for our complete guide to the Liberty Square Riverboat .

In this article

Liberty Square Riverboat Quick Facts

  • Location: Liberty Square , in The Magic Kingdom
  • Height req : None
  • Suitable for: Anybody
  • Attraction length: About 17 minutes
  • Do we recommend? Just as a time filler
  • When to visit: Anytime
  • Scheduled Refurbishments
  • Tip(s): Mostly standing room only, find a spot on the top deck to snap some good pics of nearby attractions.
  • Description: This 17-minute cruise on a steam-powered boat takes you on a 1/2 mile tour around Tom Sawyer Island.

Liberty Square Riverboat is located in Liberty Square, across from Liberty Square Market and down the way from The Hall of Presidents .

liberty square riverboat location at magic kingdom

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liberty square riverboat

How to Ride Liberty Square Riverboat

Liberty Square Riverboat has a Standby Line. There is no Single Rider Line .

Do I need to use Genie+ at Liberty Square Riverboat?

Genie+ is not available at Liberty Square Riverboat.

Rider Switch/Child Swap

As there is no height requirement for Liberty Square Riverboat, this attraction does not offer Rider Switch .

Rider Switch is Disney’s system that allows guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.

You can learn more about Rider Switch via our helpful guide.

What to Expect When You Ride

The queue to ride the Liberty Square Riverboat is shaded with some benches. The loading dock is also covered.

liberty square riverboat

The ride leaves twice an hour on the hour and the half-hour so if you don’t make the boat, you’ll be waiting quite a bit for the next one.

Ride Vehicles

The Liberty Square Riverboat is a 47-foot-tall working steamship called The Liberty Belle . It is propelled by the paddle wheel that is itself propelled by the steam engine.

It is a reproduction of the historic vessels that ferried people up and down the Mississippi River.

The Liberty Square Riverboat

While it is fully functioning, it is actually guided on an “I-beam” track that is hidden by the green and brown-dyed water of the Rivers of America.

The Riverboat has a maximum capacity of 450 people.

Guests enter the ship on the middle deck. This area features a sitting room, an outside wheelhouse, and the captain’s quarters.

The Liberty Square Riverboat

On the bottom deck of the boat, you can see the ship’s boiler and pistons and you can visit the viewing platform which has great views of all the attraction’s scenes.

On the top deck, guests get the best perspective of the Magic Kingdom from the water.

Accessibility Information

Guests in wheelchairs and ECVs may remain in them to ride The Liberty Square Riverboat.

The Liberty Square Riverboat

If you are in a wheelchair or ECV, ask a Cast Member for help and they will assist you in boarding the ride up the exit ramp. There is actually a sign at the main entrance to the attraction that points those that require wheelchair or ECV access to enter to the left.

Liberty Square Riverboat

Those in wheelchairs and ECVs must remain on the middle deck of the riverboat as there is no handicap access for other levels.

On the Ride

If you prefer to keep your ride aboard The Liberty Square Riverboat a surprise, you may want to skip this part to avoid any spoilers.

liberty square riverboat dock

The Liberty Square Riverboat begins with its captain, Horace Bixby, welcoming guests aboard The Liberty Belle as well as introducing his pilot, Samuel Clemens (known to future generations as the author, Mark Twain). You are currently on Clemens’ 100th journey aboard the Liberty Belle.

Before the Liberty Belle leaves port, Sam sets the scene for the ride ahead by warning guests to stay behind the railings, as river pirates are known to frequent the area.

frontierland views from liberty square riverboat

As you sail down the river, you’ll see the sights of Frontierland, which for the purpose of the ride was once just a boom town but is well on its way to becoming a big city. Over the announcement system, Sam mentions that the large peak in Frontierland is known as Chick-A-Pin Hill (also known to Disney guests as the former Splash Mountain and future Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ).

Continuing on, the boat passes Sam’s “old stomping ground”,  Tom Sawyer Island .

Next, he points out  Big Thunder Mountain where the water gets so hot that geysers erupt. Sam explains that Native Americans used to think that the geysers were spirits and that’s why they named the mountain “Big Thunder Mountain” and the moniker stuck.

big thunder mountain views from liberty square riverboat

As your boat ride continues, you’ll see Beacon Joe and his dog Rufus in front of his bait shop.

You’ll then see Powhatan Native Americans gathering and pass by an unidentified Indian village. Down the river, the Liberty Belle reaches Cutthroat Corner where riders are told they are most likely to find river pirates.

haunted mansion views from liberty square riverboat

Before returning to port in Liberty Square, the Liberty Belle passes The Haunted Mansion . Sam informs guests that rumor has it that the mansion was built on a Native American burial ground, and now 999 ghosts haunt it.

Finally, the Liberty Belle reaches port and Sam and Captain Bixby say goodbye as the boat docks and guests are directed to disembark.

frontierland views from liberty square riverboat

One thing to note about taking a ride on The Liberty Square Riverboat: on top of the sights you see on the attraction, you will also get a unique view of Magic Kingdom. You might even be able to spot the parade or a cavalcade during your ride!

Is Liberty Square Riverboat Kid-Friendly?

This is a great ride for the whole family to take a break from the crowds of Magic Kingdom.

Strollers are not allowed in most queues at Walt Disney World. Instead, you’ll need to leave your stroller in the designated stroller parking area near the entrance to the queue.

The Liberty Square Riverboat is one of the few attractions that can trace its history back to before Disneyland or Walt Disney World even opened.

Walt Disney initially came up with the idea for a Mississippi steamboat attraction for the Disney Studio in Burbank, California. However, the Burbank Studio did not have the land to build the attraction so Walt decided to transfer the concept to Disneyland.

wigwams as seen from liberty square riverboat

In order to create the attraction, Disney had to construct the first American-made, working steamboat in 50 years. Admiral Joe Fowler oversaw the construction of what would become The Mark Twain Riverboat in Disneyland.

The Mark Twain was built in two separate pieces. The hull was constructed in San Pedro, California and the deck was built at the Disney Studios in Burbank. The ship was assembled in Disneyland and The Mark Twin Riverboat debuted on July 17, 1955, for Disneyland’s opening day.

When Walt Disney World was in development, the riverboat was one of the attractions Imagineers decided to include in the opening day plans, however, it wasn’t quite ready.

The Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat opened one day after the park, on October 2, 1971. It was named in tribute to the man who had helped to create Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as the Riverboat attractions.

thunder mountain views from liberty square riverboat

When the riverboat first debuted, live entertainment could often be found on deck because there wasn’t much else for guests to see on the Rivers of America at the time.

Since Walt Disney World did not yet have enough attractions to meet demand, in 1973 a second steamboat was built. The Richard F. Irvine  Riverboat entered into service on May 20, 1973. It was named after the late Disney executive, Richard F. Irvine, who oversaw the planning and construction of Walt Disney World.

The only difference between the two steamboats was that The Admiral Joe Fowler had two smokestacks, while The Richard F. Irvine only had one.

In fall of 1980, The Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat was destroyed in a drydock accident. Disney decided not to repair it, and the bell from the riverboat was added to the #4 engine known as the Roy O. Disney on the  Walt Disney World Railroad .

ferries to Magic Kingdom

In 1996, The   Richard F. Irvine  was completely refurbished and returned to service as The   Liberty Belle  Riverboat.

The attraction itself was renamed the Liberty Square Riverboat to make it easier to remember and to tie the boat in with Liberty Square.

With one ship gone and the other one renamed, Disney decided to pay homage to Admiral Fowler and Richard Irvine by naming two ferries that run from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom after them in 1999.

The narration aboard the Liberty Belle has expanded as more rides have been added to Frontierland . References to  Tom Sawyer Island , Splash Mountain (the future Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ), and  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad  have all been added to the script.

native american scene on liberty square riverbaot

In 1992, the Powhatan Native Americans were added to the attraction after the release of the Disney-animated film, Pocahontas .

The  Liberty Belle  underwent extensive rehab from September 2005 to September 2006, and then in 2018 it was completely overhauled with a new boiler.

Other Fun Details

  • Captain Horace Bixby, the name given to the Liberty Belle’s captain, was a real steamboat captain on the Mississippi. Horace Bixby and Sam Clemens met aboard a steamboat called The Paul Jones . Bixby agreed to take Sam on as his apprentice. About 21 years later, the now-famous Mark Twain reunited with Captain Bixby in St. Louis. The captain even makes an appearance in Twain’s book, Life on the Mississippi .
  • Inside The Liberty Belle’s Salon, there is a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
  • Watch the Audio-Animatronic dog outside of Beaker Joe’s. Every once and a while he will turn his head as a fish jumps by.

liberty square riverboat dog

  • To pay homage to the Samuel Clemens connection, in Disneyland the attraction is known as the Mark Twain Riverboat.
  • Crates located on the banks of Frontierland are imprinted with “Tell City Tool Co.” Tell City is a real town located in Indiana on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was one of the United States’ first “planned cities.” Another crate has “71” on it to honor the year the Magic Kingdom opened and another says “Russel’s Falls” after Davy Crockett’s sidekick, George E. Russel.
  • The attraction’s landing building is one of the few in the Magic Kingdom that does not employ forced perspective. This may be to hide the riverboat from guests in Liberty Square where a steam-powered riverboat would not fit the land’s theming.

Other Attractions in Liberty Square

  • The Hall of Presidents
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Liberty Square River Boat

Liberty Square Riverboat

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Liberty Square Riverboat

An Attraction in Magic Kingdom

Last updated: May 20, 2024

At a Glance

  • May Remain in Wheelchair/ECV
  • Sign Language

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liberty square riverboat

Liberty Square Riverboat Ride Review

The Liberty Square Riverboat is a classic attraction located in Liberty Square at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park. This charming riverboat takes guests on a peaceful 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America, offering beautiful views of Frontierland and unique perspectives of classic Magic Kingdom attractions. With  a ride aboard an authentic 19th century-style steamboat and narration by the iconic Mark Twain, the Liberty Square Riverboat celebrates the nostalgia of riverboat travel’s golden era. It’s a perfect way to take a break from the high-thrill rides and enjoy a relaxing voyage back in time.

Table of Contents

  • Average Wait Times
  • Height Requirements
  • Single Rider
  • Ride Duration
  • Genie+ and Lightning Lane
  • Rider Switch
  • Early Entry Ride

Best Times to Ride

  • Original Boats
  • Current Boat
  • Disembarking

Special Events

Tips for riders.

  • Tokyo Disneyland
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  • Disneyland Paris

The Liberty Belle Sets Sail as the Rivers of America Prepares a Return to Magic Kingdom Park

General Ride Information

Average Wait Time: The Liberty Square Riverboat typically has short wait times, averaging 10–20 minutes on moderate and busy days.

Height Requirement: There is no height requirement for this slow-moving boat ride.

Single Rider: The Liberty Square Riverboat does not offer single rider lines.

Ride Duration: The total ride duration is approximately 12 minutes as the boat navigates the Rivers of America.

Genie+ and Lightning Lane: Genie + and Lightning Lane access are not available for the Liberty Square Riverboat.

Rider Switch: Rider switch is also not offered as there is no height requirement.

Disability Access Service: Guests with disabilities can take advantage of the Disability Access Service (DAS) to receive a return time.

Ride Location: The Liberty Square Riverboat is located in Liberty Square, just across from The Hall of Presidents.

Early Entry: The  Liberty Square Riverboat is not included as one of the attractions available for Early Theme Park Entry.

The best times to ride the Liberty Square Riverboat are during the middle of the day when wait times for more popular attractions peak, first thing in the morning after riding a few headliners, and at night during the fireworks shows. Riding  when crowds are lower, especially during mealtimes and the Electrical Water Pageant, can also mean shorter wait times. Avoid exiting immediately after a performance of The Hall of Presidents, when crowds flood the area.

History and Design

The Liberty Square Riverboat has a long history, dating back to Walt Disney’s original vision for Disneyland . Walt incorporated a riverboat attraction into his plans for Disneyland, using the iconic Mark Twain Riverboat on the Rivers of America as inspiration. When  designing Magic Kingdom, Imagineers brought a similar riverboat to life on the park’s Rivers of America. The original Liberty Square riverboat was named the Admiral Joe Fowler. It operated for over 7 years before being damaged beyond repair.

The Admiral Joe Fowler was replaced in 1973 by the boat currently in operation – the Richard F. Irvine. After an extensive refurbishment in 1996, the Richard F. Irvine was renamed the Liberty Belle. The Liberty Belle is an exact replica of a 19th century paddle wheel riverboat. It stands 47 feet tall and weighs 100 tons. The boat has a maximum capacity of 450 guests over three levels. The  Liberty Belle is powered by a working steam engine that rotates the rear paddle wheel to propel the boat during its journey. While the steam engine is fully functioning, the boat does follow an underwater track for guidance and safety.

Ride Experience

The Liberty Square Riverboat ride experience begins at the loading dock in Liberty Square. Guests board the boat from the middle, second deck, while ramp access for wheelchairs and ECVs is offered on the first deck. As the boat departs, guests are welcomed aboard by a pre-recorded spiel from Captain Horace Bixby. He introduces the pilot guiding this journey – none other than Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain.

Twain shares memories of his many adventures traveling along the Mississippi River as the Liberty Belle passes by Frontierland and approaches Tom Sawyer Island. Along the way, riders can spot wildlife, mining structures, and old settlements along the shores. The narration highlights various sights along the river, including abandoned mines at Cutthroat Canyon and Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island.

As the boat completes its loop around the island, the majestic facade of The Haunted Mansion comes into view. Twain remarks on legends of the Haunted Mansion being built on sacred native burial grounds as the Liberty Belle returns to dock in Liberty Square, concluding the 12-minute journey. Guests  exit the boat on the first deck and can browse photos taken during the ride that are available for purchase.

In addition to its regular operation, the Liberty Square Riverboat offers special cruises for certain hard ticket events and holidays throughout the year. During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Liberty Belle is decorated with Halloween theming. The boat hosts Happy HalloWishes Dessert Parties that coincide with the special Halloween fireworks show. Guests are served desserts while enjoying premium views of the fireworks bursting over Cinderella Castle. For the holidays, the Liberty Belle gets a festive Christmas overlay and operates during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It offers Holiday Wishes Dessert Parties to pair with the Christmas fireworks spectacular.

Brand New Details for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Disney World

The Liberty Square Riverboat also occasionally has evening cruises during Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks with unique viewing opportunities for Star Wars fans. Outside the special events, guests might catch the Liberty Belle testing its steam whistle after refurbishments and at other random times. When the steam whistle blows, it makes for an unforgettable part of the Liberty Square atmosphere. So  beyond its regular operation, the Liberty Belle delivers even more magic through special holiday cruises and one-of-a-kind experiences like the steam whistle that delight guests.

  • Arrive to board the Liberty Belle 5–10 minutes before the scheduled departure time printed on the sign at the entrance. This will ensure you get a spot and don’t have to wait for the next boat.
  • The top deck offers the best views but can get very hot in the sun. Seek shade underneath the overhangs on the lower decks if needed.
  • Bring your camera or phone to snap photos of unique magic kingdom views along the river.
  • Keep an eye out for live entertainment along the shores of Frontierland and special decorations during holidays.
  • Stop by the Liberty Square Riverboat sign near the exit after disembarking to browse onboard photos available for purchase.
  • There are no restrooms on the boat, so make sure and use the bathroom before riding

Comparison to Other Disney Riverboat Rides

The Liberty Square Riverboat ride bears many similarities to riverboat attractions across Disney theme parks worldwide. Each boat offers a scenic tour of an artificial river with references to Mark Twain and American history. However , there are some variations in narration, sights along the river, and overall ride experience between the different versions. Here’s how Walt Disney World’s Liberty Belle compares to riverboats at other Disney Parks:

Disneyland  – The Mark Twain Riverboat is a nearly identical ride experience to the Liberty Belle, complete with Twain narration and a relaxing voyage around Tom Sawyer Island and Frontierland. One key difference is Disneyland’s Columbia Sailing Ship that also navigates the river.

Tokyo Disneyland  – The Western River Railroad at Tokyo Disneyland features similar sights along the Rivers of America but follows a different path around the entire Critter Country area.

Hong Kong Disneyland  – Mystic Manor is visible from Hong Kong Disneyland’s Jungle River Cruise, offering a view of one of the park’s most popular attractions during the ride.

Shanghai Disneyland  – The Voyage to the Crystal Grotto winds through rocky caves with dazzling effects as part of its tour around Fantasyland, a very different sight from Liberty Square and Frontierland.

Disneyland Paris  – No riverboat ride exists at Disneyland Paris. Guests can walk through a full-scale replica of a frontier steamboat outside the Disneyland Railroad station.

The Liberty Square Riverboat continues to be a beloved classic, inviting guests of all ages to embark on a peaceful cruise back in time. For over 50 years, across Disney theme parks worldwide, these iconic boats offer an opportunity to recharge and appreciate the magic of Disney from a new perspective. A  ride aboard the Liberty Belle showcases Disney’s knack for blending nostalgia, nature, and storytelling into an attraction experience that stands the test of time. So be sure to hop aboard for a relaxing voyage across the Rivers of America on your next visit to the Magic Kingdom!

Location Map

Nearby Attractions

  • The Hall of Presidents – Located directly across from the Liberty Square Riverboat in Liberty Square.
  • The Haunted Mansion – A short walk from the Liberty Square Riverboat, next to the Hall of Presidents.
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure – Located in Frontierland, opening this summer 2024!
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Also located in Frontierland, offering a unique view of the coaster from the riverboat.

Riverboat on water near a dock

IMAGES

  1. Guide to Liberty Square Riverboat at Magic Kingdom

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  3. Liberty Square Riverboat closed for brief refurbishment

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  4. Liberty Square Riverboat at the Magic Kingdom Scheduled for

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  5. Liberty Square Riverboat Overview

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VIDEO

  1. Seen From the Magic Kingdom Liberty Square Riverboat Liberty Belle Walt Disney World

  2. Liberty Square Riverboat Cruise and walking tour at Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, FL

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  4. Liberty Square Riverboat, Orlando

  5. Liberty Square Riverboat 2013

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COMMENTS

  1. Complete Guide to Liberty Square Riverboat

    Description: This 17-minute cruise on a steam-powered boat takes you on a 1/2 mile tour around Tom Sawyer Island. Location. Liberty Square Riverboat is located in Liberty Square, across from Liberty Square Market and down the way from The Hall of Presidents. Download the PDF. How to Ride Liberty Square Riverboat.

  2. Liberty Square Riverboat

    Liberty Square Riverboat. “ Relaxing Ride and Perfect in the Late Afternoon. Never a Long Wait ”. Relaxing ride on a steamboat that makes a circle around Tom Sawyer Island and passes by Liberty Square and Frontierland. The ride lasts around 20 minutes and the steamboat leaves every half hour.

  3. Magic Kingdom

    Overview/History: The Liberty Belle is an authentic replica of an old paddle wheel riverboat. It travels down the Rivers of America and circles Tom Sawyer Island several times a day. This scenic tour offers a view of props along the riverbank to simulate a wild west effect.

  4. Liberty Square Riverboat Full Ride in 4K at Walt ...

    Welcome aboard the Liberty Square Riverboat for an unforgettable journey through the heart of Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. In this stunn...

  5. Magic Kingdom Liberty Square Riverboat Ride

    Magic Kingdom Liberty Square Riverboat Ride - Filmed in 4K | Walt Disney World Orlando Florida 2021. Take a ride on the Liberty Square Riverboat at Magic Kingdom, filmed in 4K UHD...

  6. Liberty Square Riverboat

    An Attraction in Magic Kingdom. Last updated: May 11, 2024. At a Glance. This large paddle-wheel riverboat navigates the waters around Tom Sawyer Island and Fort Langhorn, passing settler cabins, old mining paraphernalia, an Indian village, and a small menagerie of animatronic wildlife.

  7. Liberty Square Riverboat

    Liberty Square Riverboat. Take a leisurely ride down the Rivers of America on this authentic, steam-driven sternwheeler! Quick Links: Magical Moments Hidden Mickeys & Other Secrets Did You Know…? Touring Tips Photo Gallery. The Liberty Belle takes you on a relaxing tour around Liberty Square and Frontierland.

  8. Liberty Square Riverboat Ride Review

    The Liberty Square Riverboat is a classic attraction located in Liberty Square at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park. This charming riverboat takes guests on a peaceful 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America, offering beautiful views of Frontierland and unique perspectives of classic Magic Kingdom attractions.