4.6

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

  1. General Ride Information
    • Average Wait Times
    • Height Requirements
    • Single Rider
    • Ride Duration
    • Genie+ and Lightning Lane
    • Rider Switch
    • DAS
    • Location
    • Early Entry Ride
  2. Best Times to Ride
  3. History and Design
    • Original Boats
    • Current Boat
  4. Ride Experience
    • Boarding
    • Views
    • Narration
    • Disembarking
  5. Special Events
  6. Tips for Riders
  7. Comparison to Other Disney Riverboat Rides
    • Disneyland
    • Tokyo Disneyland
    • Hong Kong Disneyland
    • Shanghai Disneyland
    • Disneyland Paris
  8. Conclusion
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.

Best Times to Ride

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.

Special Events

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.

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.

Tips for Riders

  • 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.

Conclusion

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

Location Map

Nearby Attractions

  1. The Hall of Presidents – Located directly across from the Liberty Square Riverboat in Liberty Square.
  2. The Haunted Mansion – A short walk from the Liberty Square Riverboat, next to the Hall of Presidents.
  3. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure – Located in Frontierland, opening this summer 2024!
  4. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Also located in Frontierland, offering a unique view of the coaster from the riverboat.
Liberty Square Riverboat Ride Review
The Final Word
The Liberty Square Riverboat is a classic 12-minute journey around the Rivers of America offering beautiful views of Frontierland and unique perspectives of Magic Kingdom attractions. With narration by Mark Twain, this nostalgic steamboat celebrates the golden era of riverboat travel for a relaxing voyage back in time.
4.6