Like so much of Disney's theme park concept art, the image is gorgeous, showing the Disneyland Railroad on a trestle above waterfalls and the Mark Twain riverboat steaming around the bend. However, also like much of Disney's concept art, it is as vague as it is alluring. There's no depiction of anything near the rivers that we know will be remaining constant, which keeps the image from providing any context. Without that context, we can't deduce the position within the park of anything shown in the concept art, nor can we, from that, infer the relative size of the refurbished river.
But we can see the Indian village, the settler's cabin, and the abandoned keelboat, as well as the railroad, the Twain, and Tom Sawyer Island raft, which suggests that many of the river's visual elements will survive the changes.
Disneyland closed the Rivers of America attractions yesterday, as the park will be claiming some of their space for the new Star Wars Land, which we are guessing will open sometime in 2019 or 2020.
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The negatives are it is still a shorter ride and we don't know exactly how short and if it matters.
Seriously, though, I hope that Disney takes this opportunity to rebuild the Fort, so that there are no closed elements on the island or the river anymore. And that Disney pays for that upkeep with some of the money that SWL surely will generate.
And what is to become of that little treehouse on the hill on the south end of the island that's been walled off for a few years, a victim of safety concerns?
Have you all forgotten that Fantasmic is returning and both of these boats play an important role in that show?
It's difficult to say with any certainty, but I've got a hunch this section of the river will be just beyond the Hungry Bear Restaurant, with Tom Sawyer's Island being cut off just north of the fort (which, like others say, I hope Disney will rebuild and reopen). If it links up with the current route around where the outcropping is across from BTMR, they'll really only be shaving off about 3 minutes of ride time (off a 15 minute ride), so it really is not as drastic of a change as fans are making it out to be elsewhere.
It seems about right because the railroad is going to have to turn inward right after the Country Bear and end up on the other side just north of Big Thunder, where it'll turn because it needs to stay on the west and north of the Fantasyland Theater. My only issue with the gif is that bend on the eastern side. I'm thinking a riverboat wouldn't be able to make those turns, so I'd expect to see a little of that land next to Big Thunder turning into River. If they do that I can totally see widening the island and moving the Pirates stuff south.
Personally, I think this has long been necessary. The RoA has been more for locals than the occasional tourist, so it'll be nice to give tourists a reason to actually climb aboard the riverboats. Even better, the park will finally get rid of its two dead ends (assuming there will be entrances to SW in Critter Country and Toon Town)! Traffic will flow better. Unfortunately the new scenery won't benefit the rail-riders, but those mountains and waterfalls aren't there for scenery as much as they are a necessity to hide the weirdness that will be built behind them. Shortening the RoA is NOTHING compared to what will happen if people can see a Star Wars building elsewhere in the park!
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I realize this is all concept stuff, but I'm concerned about the position of the Tom Sawyer raft.
At first I thought the flat land on the left of the image was the Hungry Bear restaurant. But there is a dock in the image. What if that is the current canoe loading area and Rivers of America just becomes a circle with Hungry Bear on the other side of the railroad? And the indian village is on the piece of land just west of BTMR. I can't imagine the modification is going to be that severe, but is there room behind Hungry Bear to convert the old railroad track to a pathway that will lead to a new loading area beyond Hungry Bear restaurant? I think that area is all elevated.