Ever since the middle of June, they'd been coming to Disneyland
Park in the dark.
Photo by Jim Hill
Teams of cast members representing virtually every division
of The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Animation Studios. Disney Consumer
Products. The Disney Store. ABC Television. And -- of course -- the good folks
who work at Disneyland Park
and Disney California Adventure.
The Animation Armada flexes its
muscle in a team photo that was taken just prior to the start of Tuesday's
competition. Photo by Jim Hill
At first, there had been 80 teams. But after weeks of time
trials & competitions, it was now down to just 8 teams. Who were gathered
at the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country for the finals of the sprint
portion of Disneyland's annual canoe race.
Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved
Mind you, this was a special time for this Cast Member Only
competition. For 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Disneyland Resort Canoe
Races. And for this auspicious occasion, there were displays of
memorabilia from previous years of this competition ...
Photo by Shelly Valladolid/b>
... as well as a photo tribute to the Opening Day cast member who actually
launched this canoe competition back in 1963, Bob Penfield.
Photo by Shelly Valladolid
This was also the very first time that friends & family
were invited to come into the Park during these pre-dawn hours to look on
during this competition. Which is why -- this time around -- some of the teams
brought their own cheering sections.
As T-minus time approached for the start of competition, there were the
requisite safety briefings for the team captains.
Meanwhile, some of the teams used their last moments on dry land for a rowing
Then came the announcement that it was time for teams like the Mouse-Ka-Noers ...
Photo by Shelly Valldolid
... and the West Sider Strokers ...
... to head on over to the dock ...
... so that they could board their respective canoes and then get ready
for the start of that morning's sprint competition.
Now what's kind of interesting about the sprint portion of Disneyland's
canoe races is that this is the one part of the competition where the teams
actually compete head-to-head. The race-around-Tom-Sawyer's-Island part is
strictly run as a time trial. Which means that your canoe team just has to beat
the very best time of whoever else has raced around this island that year.
Whereas with the sprints, there were 12 heats on Tuesday morning where two
teams of men's, women's and coed canoers competed directly with one another.
Starting at a point on the Rivers of America just below Splash
Mountain, with the end of the race
being out on the river right by the Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country.
Photo by Jim Hill
And all through this early, early time of the morning, the volunteers who ran
this event kept close tabs on the results of each race and then determined
who'd compete in the next heat.
Mind you, there was another time element in play here since Disneyland
Park had to open for Guests by 8 a.m. Which meant that this Cast Member competition
had to be completely wrapped well before the very first members of the public
entered this theme park. So as soon as both canoes zoomed past the finish line
... the contestants would then stick their paddles deep down
in the water with a flat side facing forward in order to brake their canoes'
Once that happened, each canoe team would spin around in their seats and then quickly
begin rowing back to the dock. Where the next two groups of competitors would already
be standing by, waiting for their chances to climb down into these canoes so that they
could then begin their heat in this year's sprints.
It was a terrifically fun morning filled with some extremely tight races ...
... made all the more exciting by the hundreds of Disneyland Resort Cast
Members who'd deliberately come into work early that day just so that they
could then cheer on their friends & co-workers.
But finally the sprint competition was over. And it was now
time to recognize each of the teams that had made it to this final phase of the
competition. First those teams that didn't take top honors that morning received
certificates of recognition for all of their members ...
... whereas the winners of the Men's, Women's and Co-ed
portion of this year's sprint competition ...
... all received this nifty looking, special 50th
anniversary version of the Disneyland Canoe Race medal.
I have to say that it was nice that that Sachiko White &
Megan Navarette (i.e., the 2013 - 2014 Disneyland Resort Ambassador Team who
were serving as the MC of this awards ceremony) went out of their way to
acknowledge all of the Cast Members who had come in early to help make this
Who -- just as soon as this ceremony was over -- carted away
those special, giant 50th anniversary Disneyland Canoe Races trophies that were
on display ...
... and then turned the Hungry Bear back into a restaurant.Oh, I bet you're wondering who actually won the 50th anniversary edition of the Disneyland Canoe Races. Well, when it came to the sprints, it was:
And as for the overall finals for this year's canoe races, OAR Lords won the Men's Division by making it all the way around Tom Sawyer's Island in just 3:57:45 minutes. DC Anchorladies won the Women's Division with a race time of just 4:26:29 minutes. And United took the Coed Division title with a 4:12:67 minute race time.
Special thanks to the Disneyland Resort Publicity Team for
allowing JHM to have a waterfront seat at this very special event, the 50th anniversary
of the Disneyland Canoes Races.
That must be one very exciting event. Looks like everyone really enjoyed.