Walt Disney was so determined to see the Mark Twain afloat that when corporate completion money ran out, he paid the difference himself.
REPORTED: Troy Carrington 13 MAR 97
The maiden voyage of the Mark Twain was made four days before the Park officially opened in 1955, for Walt & Lillian's 30th wedding anniversary celebration.
REPORTED: Troy Carrington 13 MAR 97
On Opening Day, actress Irene Dunne had trouble breaking a bottle of water (from many major American rivers) across the vessel's bow as part of the Mark Twain's christening.
REPORTED: Meg 08 AUG 96
Irene Dunn's bottle wouldn't break immediately.
CONFIRMED: chernabog 23 NOV 98
Did you know that the Mark Twain Riverboat almost tipped over before?? Sometime in the late 1950's the ship had no capacity limits, so the Cast Members just loaded people until they couldn't fit anymore. Well at that time the vegetation was sparse around the Rivers Of America. When there was a sight to see everyone would crowd around on one side of the boat. This caused it to almost tip over! After that day Walt made sure it would never happen again by placing a capacity limit on the ride.
REPORTED: Jordan Wasyliw 15 MAR 97
During the first few days Disneyland was open, the Mark Twain Steamboat had no set load limits. Operators continued to wave guests on board until the deck neared the water line. During one trip around the sparsely vegetated river route, the ship almost capsized as passengers stampeded from one side to the other to view the riverbanks' few attractions. Immediately, the Park established maximum capacities, which are still in effect today.
CONFIRMED: Troy Carrington 16 MAR 97
Have you ever noticed who is driving the Mark Twain? If you look up at the wheel house on top of the Mark Twain you will probably see a park guest driving. If you ask a Cast Member nicely before you board the Mark Twain if you can go up to the wheel house sometimes the Cast Member will be nice and tell you to go on up there as soon as you get on the Mark Twain. Once you get on the steamboat just go up to the second floor and knock on the door that says private. The captain will open the door and escort you up a ladder to the wheel house where you will get to drive the Mark Twain. Up there is a guest book which you will be asked to sign. Look through it and you will probably find some celebrities. The captain will tell you to ring the bell and to blow the horn at certain moments during your trip. Also, at the end of your ride the captain will fill out a certificate stating that you are trained to drive the Mark Twain.
REPORTED: Brian 20 JAN 97
Did you know that if you go on the Mark Twain's steam boat ride and ask the conductor if you can help, he will let you in where he is driving the ship and you get to drive it your self and pull on the horn. Also I you are the first people to get on the monrail ask if you can sit in with the conductor and the will let you. That's all I know for now. Have fun
CONFIRMED: Tynaea Bickel 20 APR 97
If you ask a Cast Member on the dock of the Mark Twain (nicely!), you will get to go up to the wheel house, drive the Mark Twain, and sign the guestbook. I also got to ring the bell and sound the whistle! It was one of the most awesome Disneyland experiences I've ever had!
CONFIRMED: Kate P. 29 JUN 97
When I steered her the coastline loomed near until the Captain fainted in fright, but I recovered quite nicely, and he told me to next time bring up a couple of "young 'uns", presumably to feed to the 'gators. Besides they steer better, not being able to see out. Do not go up and knock on the wheelhouse door, though. Tell the person at the boarding station that you want to go up there, and he (or she) will signal the Captain, who will be waiting for you. You'll ring the bell, toot the whistle and have a great time. Do not, though, overrun the Columbia like I almost did! You'll get a certificate good for one year of piloting on the Rivers of America. Here's a pic of me before my run-in with the natives along the river bank.
UPDATE: Ed Johnston 07 JUL 97
CONFIRMED: Future Mouseketeer 17 JUL 97
CONFIRMED: Shannon 26 SEP 97
It is possible to ride in the Wheel House of the Mark Twain following the invitation of a ride operator. The ride operator cannot control the speed or direction of the large steamboat that was constructed by the Todd Ship Yard in Long Beach. Nonetheless, he initially communicates to a boiler engineer through a series of bells and when necessary an actual intercom. For safety, the steamboat rides on an I-beam guide rail. The boiler engineer operates forward and reverse as well as speed. The Mark Twain has right of way on the River. All other river traffic is capable of out manuevering the big boat (with the exception of the Columbia which also rides the rail). The river is relatively shallow. At its deepest point it is no more the 8 feet near the switch at Fowlers Harbor. The Mark Twain only drafts 18 inches of water. Early in its voyages, guest were capable of buying a mint julip aboard or listening to card players and checker players re-enact "dialogue of that era". Duty aboard the Mark Twain was one of the most sought after west-side attractions as the ride operators had a very easy going shift that included longer breaks and lunches than other employees in the park.
UPDATE: Anthony Gallegos 18 OCT 97
You don't have to ask an attendant on the dock to drive but it is safest to anyway, in fact they are usually too busy with crowd control to worry about that. Go up to the upper deck and give the captain a shout. When he looks down at you just give him a gesture that looks like someone steering. He will come down to a unmarked door, it doesn't say "private", to let you in. You will sign a guest book. The captain told me that he just loved having people up there with him because it gets lonely going around and around the Rivers of America by yourself with nobody to talk to.
UPDATE: David Enertson 26 MAR 98
Just a warning to people wanting to ride in the Wheelhouse of the Mark Twain from an experienced pilot. Please do not be so presumptuous as to barge up into the Wheelhouse or to yell at the pilot from the Texas Deck (top deck). Kindly ask one of the Dock Hands before boarding if you could go up before-hand, because some pilots don't like guests in the Wheelhouse and others would rather ask a guest themselves. Personally, I would rather ask up a nice family with children or a couple attractive females, then to have fat, smelly guys yell at me or barge in. Please be considerate to the pilots and they will return the consideration ten-fold.
UPDATE: anon 15 SEP 98
The Bridge on the Mark Twain seems to be off limits for guests. On 1/23/01 we visited and asked if we could ride on the bridge. We were told no, due to safety issues. I am guessing this is in response to all the recent accidents at Disneyland. It would be interesting to see if other readers can confirm this.
UPDATE: Chris Wiles 19 FEB 01 See the Webmaster's Trip
On the Mark Twain Paddleboat in New Orleans Square, keep climbing the stairs on the boat as high as you can go. At the top, you will notice a door marked "Private". Knock loudly on this door until the Steamboat Captain looks down at you from the window above you. Ask very politely if you can come up and drive the steamboat. There is a maximum of four people allowed in the cabin at once, and the preferred age group is under 10. After your youngster "drives" the boat (obviousdly on tracks), s/he is awarded a certificate signed by Walt himself. Happy sailing!
UPDATE: Cinderella 08 AUG 01
The grill work Hidden Mickey between the smokestacks is new. It was placed there sometime after the original steamship was in operation. There is a picture in the Disney gallery of the early steamship and it does not have the same grill work. You can also see the original grillwork on the recent postcards of the Mark Twain boat if you look closely.
REPORTED: Peggy Reimer 03 NOV 96
The Bridge of the Mark Twain is the only place in the park that has a totally unobstucted view of the castle, Thunder Mountain and the Castle all at the same time
REPORTED: David Enertson 23 MAR 98
The Indian chief who is riding a horse on the banks of the Rivers of America can be seen while riding the Railroad and the Colombia or Mark Twain. When the train comes by the indian waves at the passengers but when one of the boats comes by he turns in his saddle to wave at the boat passengers.
REPORTED: David Enertson 26 MAR 98
The phantom fish in the pool between Frontierland and Fantasyland are not the only phantom fish, when you take a ride on the Mark Twain steamship, the spot where you pass the indian boy on the log next to his pet wolf, is yet another phantom fish jumping in and out of the water.
REPORTED: kat 03 JUN 97
While riding the Colombia or Mark Twain you will come upon a scene of an Indian Shaman telling a story to his tribe. I was told by the captain of the Mark Twain that this Shaman figure is the most sophisticated animatronic figure in the whole park and that at this time his movements are only about one third of what he is capable of.
REPORTED: David Enertson 26 MAR 98
The Indian Shaman is actually an "Abraham Lincoln" animatronic. That is why his face is mostly covered. Watch his movements and you'll see that it's true!
UPDATE: Kitty 10 APR 00