DISNEY’S iconic Liberty Belle riverboat has left its tracks and sailed out into open water on a unique journey.
For nearly 50 years, guests visiting Magic Kingdom Park at Orlando’s Walt Disney World have enjoyed a relaxing half-mile cruise around the park’s Rivers of America, sailing aboard the grand streamer riverboat.
The trip usually takes in views of Frontierland and Liberty Square – but after so many years of helping guests make memories, she recently ventured further afield, Disney has revealed.
Last October, cast members drained the waters of the Rivers of America, sending the Liberty Belle to dry dock behind Magic Kingdom Park in order to replace her underwater track.
And on Friday last week she returned after teams worked through the night to sail her through Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, around Disney’s Contemporary Resort and crossing in front of Magic Kingdom Park.
The Liberty Belle was then towed by hand through a narrow water channel before underwater divers reconnected her to the newly refurbished track and brought her home.
Once docked back in Liberty Square, cast members put on the finishing touches before opening to guests on Friday morning.
During the four-month refit, more than 100 cast members contributed their specialised crafts and skills.
They also took advantage of the Rivers of America being drained to make enhancements including updated rockwork, landscaping and adding fresh paint to the surrounding areas.
“A project of this scale truly took a Kingdom to ensure its success,” says Disney Parks communications manager Laurel Slater, writing on the Disney Parks blog.
“Now, guests and cast members can once again sail the waters of the Rivers of America aboard this historic 47-foot authentic steam-powered paddle wheeler.”