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Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes
Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes
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Like the Mike Fink Keel Boats, the canoes were another Magic Kingdom attraction that debuted in Frontierland on Opening Day based on the Davy Crockett Disneyland shows. Guests boarded the 35-foot long decorated canoes from a dock located to the north of the not-yet-built Tom Sawyer Island raft launch. During the first two years of park operation, the canoes traveled near the island that Tom Sawyer Island would be built on in 1973 and the area originally slated for Thunder Mesa/Western River Expedition that later became the home of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.
Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes were piloted by two coonskin cap wearing cast members who sat in the bow and stern with guests sitting between them in the canoe. A C ticket was required to paddle and guests were told "if you don't row, we don't go!" The canoes traveled the same counter clockwise path as other watercraft on the Rivers of America but provided the additional thrill of helping to navigate them.
Sample Canoe Guide Jokes
Cast Members (usually the one who paddled in the bow position) gave a joke-filled spiel that was similar to the Jungle Cruise. Sample jokes included variations of the following:
(Introduces himself to the guests in the canoe.) "I'm your captain, alligator wrestler and possibly your swimming instructor!"
"Is anyone on this canoe named Frank? (Waits to make sure the canoe says no.) Can I be frank for a second? You row like a drunken centipede!"
"One of the original Mouseketeers is here with us today! Here's 'a net'!" (Holds up a net.)
(Points to Big Thunder Mountain.) "See Big Thunder Mountain on our left? It's made of 100% sandstone so don't take it for granite."
(Points to the burning settler's cabin along the river.) "My girlfriend left me. That's her house up there. We had a heated argument, sparks began to fly and she burned me up so I'm burning her down. I guess you can call her an old flame."
(Points to cabin with settler sitting on the dock.) "That's Beacon Joe. He's the eyes and ears of this river and he lets us know when trouble is brewing. You hear that music? It's coming from a small speaker on the end of his pipe. We call that 'piped in music'."
"Here's some moose that have come down by the river to get some water. I bet you don't see that everyday. (Aside) I do."
(Passing the Indian village). "I used to be good friends with the chief of that Indian tribe back there but he recently passed away. I feel partly responsible for his death. He came up to me and said, 'I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping. Can you think of anything to help me?' I told him to drink two cups of tea before going to bed each night. The chief went a little overboard and drank five gallons of tea that night. When I found him the next morning it was a mess. He had drowned in his own 'tea pee'."
(At the end of the ride back at the dock.) "I'm going to tell you what my father told me at 18. Get up. Get out. The free ride's over. And take your mother with you!"
The canoes never ran on a regular schedule. There were often listed in park guides as being open only seasonally and last operated in 1993 (some sources say 1994). Perhaps the legal department was concerned about what would happen if guests fell overboard and the resulting lawsuits that would appear. Canoes still operate at Disneyland and a Tokyo Disneyland version debuted when that park opened and was renamed Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes in 1992. Disneyland Paris had a similar attraction called Indian Canoes from 1992-1994. Shanghai Disneyland has an attraction called Explorer Canoes in the Treasure Cove section of the park.
Pictures of the former canoe loading area once the attraction was no longer operating.
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See ya real soon!