04 March 2011

Tweet, tweet tweet, tweet tweet

Walt Disney World is filled with wonderful elements that add depth and real world feeling to the stories being presented. On rare occasions, however, a detail may reside in the perfect subtle location, only to be continuously overlooked. Such as the canary found along the exit to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The caged canary may seem ill-fitted to the dark, dusty work of mining, but their presence was vital to the mining process. More precisely, the canaries were guardians of the health and well-being of the miners completing their dangerous tasks. As brightly colored songbirds, the canaries could be easily seen and heard throughout the shafts. While I am certain that the birds brought much appreciated smile to the miners faces from time to time, their visual and auditory presence was desired to ensure the mine was still safe to work in. With a lower tolerance for toxins, such as carbon monoxide or methane, a deceased canary meant it was time to evacuate the passageways and get the miners back above ground.

In an age before more precise safety equipment and sensors, the canary was a miner’s companion and protector. These tiny creatures were critical to the success and continued welfare of those involved in the backbreaking work of mining. Though not prominently displayed, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s canary is perhaps the good luck charm that allows the runaway trains the continued ability to run on-time, and has earned its recognition.

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