05 June 2012

Travel through Frontierland and Liberty Square

If you’ve been following the Gazette for a while, you know that Davy Crockett and Zorro are two characters whom I adore and wish they had a stronger presence in the Magic Kingdom, and Walt Disney World as a whole. Signs of the masked fox known as Zorro are few and far between, but Davy Crockett still has a few corners of Frontierland in which he can be found. Of course, from 1971 until 1994, the King of the Wild Frontier had an entire attraction dedicated to his exploits.
The Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes were one of only four opening day attractions in Frontierland, the others being the Frontier Shootin’ Arcade, Country Bear Jamboree, and the Walt Disney World Railroad. The canoes were helmed by a pair of Cast Members who would give the guests onboard a short lesson on how to paddle before setting out onto the Rivers of America. The sides of the canoes were adorned with Native American pictograms and imagery.

At their peak, the canoes were joined on the Rivers of America by a pair of riverboats, rafts to and from Tom Sawyer Island, and the Mike Fink Keelboats, making it one busy water highway. With various types of watercraft, all used by different folks for different reasons, riverboats for travel, keelboats for ferrying goods, and canoes for their functionality in daily life, the Rivers of America brought Frontierland to life.

Aside from being able to admire the simplicity and beauty of Davy Corckett Explorer Canoes, the other great pieces of this photograph, taken in 1981, is the glimpses of Frontierland itself. Notice how thin and sparse the trees are? Or the wooden railings and gates the made up the queue for the attraction? Or how little the actual structures of Frontierland have changed in all these years? I’m not even going to mention the guests’ wardrobe choices, but some of them are, shall we say, unique.


Mini-V said...

We had a chance to paddle around in the canoes many years ago. We realized after, that the two cast members and the three of us were the only ones paddling. The rest of the guests were Asian tourists. We revisited this attraction in Disneyland a year ago. I don't know if the canoes got heavier or we got a lot older, but I didn't remember it to be as much work.

Bonnie said...

I have very fond memories of this attraction! I remember boarding the canoes over by where Big Thunder is. How much fun would we all have now if we could fill up a canoe with all of our Disney friends for a paddle adventure! Thanks for the article and photo.

steve2wdw said...

Actually, the Walt Disney World Railroad didn't have a stop in Frontierland on opening day. I don't think it stopped in Frontierland until '72.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Mini-V - I imagine my fond remembrance of the attraction would come crashing down to earth too if I had to paddle these around today!

Bonnie - That would be a canoe full of trouble!

Steve - You're absolutely right. The station was there, but the train didn't stop there in October of 1971. Thanks for keeping me honest!