Disney cast members took to the Disneyland canoes on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The reason? A race around Tom Sawyer Island. It's a tradition that turned 50 in 2013.
If you've ever been on the Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland's Rivers of America, you likely know the terrain pretty well. You know the canoes. You know that it is one of the most nature-filled parts of the resort -- ducks and other waterfowl flock to that spot -- and you know that diners at the Hungry Bear will sometimes wave at you, if you haven't caught them mid-bite (or even if you have).
But most of all you know what is in the middle of your loop: Tom Sawyer Island.
How quickly do you think you and some pals, if you were rowing one of the canoes, could fully circle that island, against a clock? Knowing the distance?
Around four minutes is a fine guess, and correct. That's how long, give or take, it took the winners of the most recent Disneyland Cast Canoe Races to make a full orbit around that center patch of land.
Ever heard of the Cast Canoe Races? They're some of the most long-running water races in Southern California -- they turned 50 in 2013 -- and definitely some of the most famous local water races not to take place on the Pacific.
Nope. They're in Anaheim.
The one catch? They're only open to Disney cast members, and, as they happen before the theme park officially opens for the day, they're closed to the public.
The 50th Cast Canoe Races set out on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7, and the impressive times are in. The women's winning team crossed the Hungry Bear-close finish line at 4:26:29, the men's winning team clocked 3:57:45, and the coed team came in at 4:12:67. Congratulations, DC Anchor Ladies, Oarlords, and United, respectively.
It's interesting to know, though, what's happening at the Magic Kingdom after-hours (or before-hours in this case). It's also interesting to know that with teamwork and oar-strength and speed, a canoe full of people can indeed circle that island in around four minutes.