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Disney Shuts Down Crockett Canoes Early in Latest Cost Cutback

October 06, 1998|E. SCOTT RECKARD and DAVID HALDANE

Disneyland has closed the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes for winter a month earlier than usual, the latest in a series of recent money-saving cutbacks that have irritated some customers.

Saturday was the canoes' last day this year, a park spokesman said Monday. It follows the permanent closure of the leaky old Submarine Voyage, an expensive-to-operate remnant of the park's early days. The park also has begun restricting the operating hours of more than 20 other attractions.

What was first known as the Indian War Canoes premiered July 4, 1956. Its name was later changed when an Indian Village area of the park closed. Two Disney "cast members" per canoe join 24 guests in paddling around an island dotted with a burning cabin, an Indian chief and other frontier tableaux.

The high ratio of employees to guests makes it less cost-effective than most rides, said Werner Weiss, a Chicago Disney enthusiast who maintains an Internet site called Yesterland, devoted to closed rides.

Disneyland spokesman Ray Gomez said the attraction isn't dead. "The canoes will return next summer," he said.

Weiss, on his Web site, is listing the canoes with permanently closed rides. He said he fears they will wind up like several other Disneyland and Disney World rides that closed "temporarily" and never reopened.

Disneyland regularly closes rides after Labor Day for refurbishing, said Disneyland historian David Koenig, author of two books on the park. But when rides close because of cool weather, it's usually not until November, Koenig said. "This time of October seems awfully early."

Visitors expressed annoyance Monday on learning that the attraction was closed. "I'm really not happy about it," said Jesse Raftery of San Diego. "This isn't the 'Happiest Place on Earth' anymore."

William M. Buckly, visiting from Pittsburgh, agreed. "I think everything should be open until [the park] closes," he said.

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