Sunday, July 27, 2014

Canoe Races! August 1969

If you're like me, there is nothing more exciting than a canoe race. The sound of engines revving, the smell of petrol and burning rubber, the thrill-a-minute danger… none of those things are to be found at a canoe race!

Actually I'm not sure if these two canoes are technically racing, or if they are just scrambling to avoid being plowed under by the Mark Twain that is bearing down on them. Still, it's a pretty picture, with the glassy river reflecting the light of the sunset sky, while New Orleans Square gleams on shore. If you look toward the left, the crowd is noticeably bigger - they all want to ride the still-fairly-new Pirates of the Caribbean.

Well, looks like those canoes have survived once again, as they skedaddle around the bend. Notice one of the canoes has a CM standing up in front, which is impressive (I suppose all that ballast makes it a bit easier). On shore, Chief Wavy (my unofficial name for him) just can't wait to salute the guests! He's a friendly feller. 


K. Martinez said...

Love both images of the canoes and Rivers of America. From civilization to the wilderness. Does anyone know how many canoes they run at a time during operation?

Anonymous said...

speaking of canoe races, Disneyland for years held early morning canoe races for its cast members, with timed winners for both full laps of the river and sprints on the Critter Country side. The races were open to any Disney employee, including entrants from WDI and the studio.

Chuck said...

In the second photo, I think the guests in the lead canoe have mutinied and are making the CM walk the plank. The CM in the stern is keeping quiet, hoping they won't notice him sitting behind them. With a lot of luck, he just might make it back to the Indian Village alive and unmoistened. But there wasn't a lot of luck in circulation that day. They found him later in the shadow of Cascade Peak, up a creek without a paddle or even a canoe, and alone - so very, very alone.

Considering the ride's design - charging guests to provide slave labor - it's surprising this sort of thing didn't happen more often. "Charge us a 'D' ticket and then make us do all the work, will you? We'll see you to Davy Jones, you scurvy scum!" (canoe CMs were notorious for avoiding citrus products like the plague).

It's odd that they didn't provide the canoe CMs some sort of capability to defend against this eventuality, especially considering the fact that they armed the Jungle Cruise skippers to protect them from passenger retaliation for the corny jokes in the attraction spiel.

Orange Co Native said...

It is interesting to note that back in the 1950's and 1960's there was no railing along the curve of the river. Just vegetation and reeds. I guess people had more common sense back then to not jump into the river. As time has gone by, it seems more and more concrete has replaced many of the plants and trees in Frontierland. It has lost some of its frontier wilderness feel over the years.

Anonymous said...

I was part of those employee canoe races back in 1969. Still have my t-shirt! They no longer have the races?? And that CM standing up is saying what I did long ago...remember folks to paddle...or we will paddle YOU!


Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, that is a good question; you often see four or five canoes at the dock, but I'm not sure they ever ran more than two at a time.

Anon, I've seen pictures of these races (probably from a "Disneyland Line" or something), they look like they were lots of fun.

Chuck, if only they'd remembered to bring a plank. It sure didn't take that crew long t o mutiny, he must have been a real bastard. I have thought the same thing about the guests doing all of the work on the canoes (though I'm sure the cast members did more than their share) - it's probably why I've never been on that ride!

OC Native, if I see a river without a railing, I jump right in. Don't tell me what to do, you're not the boss of me!

KS, I have no idea if they still run the canoe races… we need somebody who can tell us for sure.