Canoe Races of the World at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Today is Labor Day and we're celebrating the Disney Cast Members that make our Walt Disney World Vacations so very special with a look at a Cast Member tradition that goes back to Disneyland in 1963. I'm talking about the annual two-week event that is Canoe Races of the World (commonly referred to as C.R.O.W.) held in the Magic Kingdom, and in Disney Parks around the globe.

A Canoe Race Around Tom Sawyers IslandA Canoe Race Around Tom Sawyers Island
In 2012 more than 800 Cast Members on 75 teams signed up to paddle their hearts out. The 35-foot boats used for racing were part of the Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes attraction until 1994. They weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds, and take some skill to maneuver around the course. Cast Members must gather 8- 10 people to form a crew, and generally, name their team on a play of their work location or area of expertise.

8-10 Cast members Make Up a Crew8-10 Cast members Make Up a Crew
Hours before guests line up at the gates of Magic Kingdom for rope drop, the shore of the Rivers of America is bustling with activity throughout Frontierland. Surrounding Tom Sawyer's Island the racers start near Country Bears Jamboree, passing by Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion, rounding the corner near Liberty Square's Riverboat to the finish line.

A Uniquely Disney Camaraderie BuilderA Uniquely Disney Camaraderie Builder
Event organizer Paige McCalmon says that "steering is the key to winning the race." To that end, they hold a steerers clinic every year to give cast members a chance for training before going to the races. Teams are also given the chance to run in practice heats so they can have the experience of paddling together. Teams that choose to take advantage of the clinics and practice sessions definitely have a competitive edge.

2012 Canoe Races of the World Winners2012 Canoe Races of the World Winners
The winners of the 2012 Canoe Races were the Industrial Engineering Cast Members of the "Oars 3" team, which took home the coveted title and bragging rights for the coming year. The Spirit Award was given to the "Tough Cookies" team for showing tremendous support for their fellow competitors and cheering them on from start to finish.

Phil wrote on Thu, 09/06/2012 - 23:26:

Phil's picture

Can people other then Cast Members watch these races? Have they ever thought of doing the race in Seven Seas Lagoon? This sounds like a really cool event!

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 09/07/2012 - 13:23:

Kristen K.'s picture

Sadly, the races are not open to the public. The canoes that they use are not really portable (weighing in over a ton, it takes a crane to move them) so I'm not sure that doing the races on the Seven Seas Lagoon would work. I'm one of those rare guests that loved the explorer canoes as an attraction. I would always take the time to paddle around the island, and I still hold out hope that WDW will bring them back.

Linda wrote on Sun, 07/28/2013 - 08:27:

Linda's picture

I volunteered for these races for about 15 years! I also raced in them for about 8. It was a completely unique experience seeing the park prior to sunrise and actually welcoming the new day on the river.

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