Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Continued Photos From Huck!

Today I have even more photos, thanks to the generosity of GDB friend Huck Caton. All of these relate to the famous cast member canoe races (a Disneyland tradition that dates all the way back to 1963). I thought that the parks didn't do the races anymore, but a quick Google search showed me the error of my ways. Besides building team morale, the races are just plain fun.

Huck says that this first photo shows the Bell canoe team (they worked at "America the Beautiful", if you recall), posing in Bear Country just before they completely humiliated the "Fantasyland North" team!

Here's the Bell team as they prepare to head out into the river. They look calm and confident. The blue-shirts in the background are the Fantasyland North team.

Huck says that this very cool photo is of a "canoe timing run", but I forgot to ask him why it was done. A warmup? Did it help decide which teams raced against each other? Did is loosen the water molecules, making for a faster final race?

This one is blurry, but I included it because girls.

After the slaughter, the victorious team took time out for another photo. Their smiles say it all.

Many thanks to Huck for sharing his personal photos with us! The next batch is wacky, I'll tell ya what.


Nanook said...


I can see they're victorious - their tee shirts are all splashed with water-! How many times does the average guest return from an outing around the Rivers of America showing water spotting on their tops-?? Exactly. GO team-!

Thanks, Huck for sharing.

TokyoMagic! said...

I've heard about the cast member canoe races for a while now, but looking at these pics has raised some questions. Obviously these races took place before park opening, but did all of the races take place on just one morning or do they occur over a period of days or weeks? Also, are the teams given the opportunity to practice/train and if so, how far in advance are they allowed to get out there on the river and do that?

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Huck thanks for these great "backstage" photos.

We've all had fun at the park but it stil doesn't compare to the fun the castmembers must have had behind the scenes. I know the hours had to be long and the pay low but there seem to be many more fond memories (and blogs)related to Disney employment than those complaining about it. Thanks again for the peek behind the curtain.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I do love the contrast between that last photo and the first photo; they are soggy, but victorious!

TokyoMagic!, hopefully Huck or some other cast member will chime in, because I don’t know the answers to your questions.

Alonzo, this really does look like fun; and while they apparently still do canoe races, I have read so many accounts about unhappy, low-paid cast members that I get the feeling that it is just not the same today.

K. Martinez said...

Glad to hear the canoe races are still an event. I love that attraction.

Huck, Thanks again for sharing photos of your Disneyland cast member memories. These are awesome!

Nanook, It's true. I've never left the canoes with a spotless shirt. It's part of the experience for sure.

Nancy said...

Such fun....so makes me wish I had had the wisdom back then that I have now!! Would definitely be a highlight of my life for sure!

Thanks to Huck and the Major for sharing all of these great views with us. :-)

Huck said...

I'm at work, but I'll try to briefly explain the canoe races procedures (at least as they were utilized back in the late '70s).

The races took place over two and a half weeks in the summer before the park opened. There were canoe teams of women (with a male sternman), teams of men, and mixed teams. Most of the canoe and Skyway employees took the races pretty seriously because the upper body strength their jobs created made them tough to beat.

There were timing rounds to see what bracket a team would be in, followed by head-to-head racing. Between the consolation rounds and sudden death races, it took a while to reach the point where winners could be crowned.

The annual summer canoe races were great fun and every team had shirts made… even if they were terrible and had no chance of winning!

By the way, wages weren't bad back in the '70s. I made around $15/hr. as a sweeper foreman on night differential. We were AFL-CIO and ROs were Teamsters (about 5¢ more an hour!). Oh, and, NO ONE would have been caught dead referring to themselves or other employees as "cast members" back then. Yikes!


TokyoMagic! said...

Huck, thanks for the additional info! And thanks for sharing your photos and memories with us!