Davey Crockett's Explorer Canoes

July 1956

Just down river from Splash Mountain -- a ride based on a movie which conjures up images of slavery -- are the Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes, named for a man famous for such dastardly deeds as killing bears, killing Indians, killing Mexicans, and serving in Congress. The only "critters" honored here are those who gave their innocent lives to make Crockett's furry headgear. There's something not quite politically correct in all of this.

The "fun" of these canoes is that they are completely powered by guests. The job of the cast member who sits at the back of the canoe is to stear, and the job of the cast member who sits at the front of the canoe is to taunt slackers and be otherwise "entertaining." Guests forced to work in this way are not given discounts, coupons, or some other token of appreciation for all their hard work. Instead, they are expected to believe that they have had a good time -- just like the poor fools who get a flat tire on the Autopia only to discover that they are expected to change it themselves.

The canoes have gone through a number of changes over the years. After complains about untold cases of samonella and other diseases caused by the duck-waste-riddled waters of the Rivers of America, guests are now given paddles with which to power the boat instead of being expected to use their hands "like real explorers." Also, any jokes the canoe's guide might make when anamatronic Indians are seen along the riverbank have been switched from a "boy I wish I had a rifle" theme to a "boy it sure is nice to see Native Americans able to practice their traditions way back here in hidden corner of Disneyland away from regular folk."

Early in the century, Disneyland management ordered that the canoes be closed for fiscal reasons. Cast members knew that this could not possibly be the case -- what was the cost of running a ride powered entirely by guests? Didn't cast members from other areas of the park sometimes go "work" on the canoes for their lunch hour since it was so relaxing? In protest, several of them picked up a canoe, ran with it to "it's a small world," threw it in the water, and sailed through the attraction firing rifles a the figures of singing children. Fortunately, the cast members' authentic, old-fashioned, muzzle-loading rifles took so long to prepare that none of them got off more than a single shot before they were all taken out by Disney's quick-response on-site SWAT team, and their aim was pretty poor.

Trivia: Guests who do not "pull their own weight" during the paddling phase of this attraction and are dumped into the water by their fellow riders are not fished out of the Rivers of America until the canoe comes around a second time.

Trivia: Because of the large number of ducks that inhabit (and do other things) in the river, and because the river's water is not filtered, this is some of the most foul liquid to be found outside of a sewage treatment plant. Hint: when the river was first filled, the water was so clear that you could see the bottom.

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