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River Rogue Keelboats

Davy, Davy Crockett — king of the wild frontier!

The two classic river keel boats, the Coyote and Raccoon, are still plying the waters, giving guided tours of the rivers at swift pace.

They might have been overtaken in style and comfort by the mighty stern-wheel riverboats, but these keel boats can take you right up close to the fascinating landscape and roaming wildlife of the islands - they've become the transport of choice for the roguish river pirates!

River Rogue Keelboats

Beyond Big Thunder Mountain Mining Co., through thick pine forests and along winding, confusing paths from the town of Thunder Mesa, the shoreline at Smugglers' Cove comes into view. Here are some of the final remaining rogues in this tamed Far West landscape - the "river pirates" who scurry about the rivers scavaging for prizes and plunder, storing them all in the ochre caves along the rivers' edge.

From the loading dock hidden between two giant rocks and shielded from passing riverboats, you board the Coyote or Raccoon for a tour of the Rivers of the Far West by the river rogues themselves, including a little unrehearsed narration - taking you closer to the wildlife, natural beauties and bounty of the West.

First you pass Old Joe with his barking dog, before turning around the headland and dodging closer to Wilderness Island for a close-up, water-level view of its waterfalls and wildlife. The erupting geysers - including 'Old Faithful' herself blast into the air ahead, as you pass the majestic Rainbow Arch and pick up speed for the darting ply through Thunder Mesa town.

Hurrying past the eerie tombstones of Phantom Manor, the bullet-ready outposts of Fort Comstock and the runaway trains of Big Thunder, you arrive safety back at Smugglers' Cove — another bootlegger's run complete!

Guided keel boat tour around the lively waters of Big Thunder and Wilderness Island.

  • Opening Date

    12th April 1992

  • Attraction Type

    Keel boat tour

  • Duration

    10 minutes

  • Capacity

    40 Guests per keel boat,
    2 keel boats

  • Suitablility
    • Children 3-7
    • Children 8-12
    • Young Adults
    • Adults
    • Seniors

Trivia

  • In 1955, Walt Disney not only had a hugely successful new theme park, but a popular television show with the same name, Disneyland, gathering entire families to discover the latest tales from Mr. Disney. By far the most successful of these was Davy Crockett, a series which concluded in autumn 1955 with two episodes charting the Western legend's encounter with Mike Fink and their keel boat race along the Mississippi to New Orleans - Mike Fink piloting the Gullywhumper and Davy Crockett using Bertha Mae. Both episodes were later packaged together under the title Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.
  • When production of the two episodes concluded, Walt decided that the little boats used in the films would make a good attraction on his Rivers of America at Disneyland. And so, on 25th December 1955, Mike Fink Keelboats opened in Frontierland with the Gullywhumper keel boat - in actual fact the boat named Bertha Mae in the film. Then, in May 1956, the Bertha Mae (Gullywhumper in the film) arrived. After 10 years of service reproductions of the two boats, with new sound and electrical systems, were crafted backstage at Disneyland to replace the aging film props.
  • Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World opened on 1st October 1971 with two indentical keel boats, under the same attraction title but instead located in the park's Liberty Square land. Mike Fink Keel Boats at Disneyland operated only sporadically from the early 1990s onwards, eventually closing for good in May 1997 following an accident. The Bertha Mae was later sold on eBay for $15,000 whilst the Gullywhumper remains as a prop on the Rivers of America. Walt Disney World's attraction closed in late 1997 after a similar period of frequent closures.
  • River Rogue Keelboats began service on opening day of Disneyland Paris, but, like the Indian Canoes just along the river, they gradually faded from the park's range of attractions towards the end of the 1990s due to their low capacity and the large number of Cast Members needed for safe operation. The keel boats occasionally opened on busy days, but were completely withdrawn from service in the early 2000s, in danger of being forgotten forever.
  • As attendance at the park began to climb again and more capacity was required, park maintenance and operations looked again at the viability of the keel boats and became interested in their revival, bringing life back to the Rivers of the Far West and a unique attraction to the range on offer. The keel boats and their loading station were fully refurbished for the 2006 summer season, including the repainting of the attraction logo on the entrance which had been replaced by a generic notice stating "Smuggler's Cove - Danger! No trespassing!" when the attraction closed. Originally due to reopen that Summer, their launch was ultimately postponed for an entire year when it was declared by authorities that the boat pilots would require a full French boating licence. Training completed, their long-awaited return to service was finally confirmed by internal sources in June 2007, with their first daily public operation in over seven years commencing on 21st July 2007.
  • River Rogue Keelboats is now the only operating keel boat attraction at any Disney park in the world.

A true Disneyland classic: the Coyote and Raccoon are now the only operating keel boats at any of the Disney parks

Tips

  • If you're lucky and arrive at the front of the queue as loading begins, pick a spot up on the top deck for the best 360-degree view of the rivers. Unless it looks like rain, of course, in which case the lower decks provide cover from the elements!

Advice

  • Transfer required. Must be accompanied in order to assist in transfer to the boats. The lower deck has a large step into very low seating, whilst the top deck which can be reached only by a small set of stairs.