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Fun Find Friday

February 6, 2015

Location: Frontierland, Magic Kingdom

If you have ever sailed around the Rivers of America or explored Tom Sawyer's island, you may have looked across the river towards Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and noticed the building in the picture below:

Mike Fink Keel Boats

As you can see, the wording on the building (which is used as the smoking area in Frontierland) reads "Reliable Shipping of Freight. Round Trip Sightseeing Inquire Within. Mike Fink, prop." So what does the sign mean and why is it located here?

In 1955, the television show Davy Crockett was taking the world by storm. In two of the episodes, Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, Davy and his right hand man Georg Russel meet a keelboat captain named Mike Fink. Mike convinces the two of them to race him down the Mississippi River. Eventually, Davy overcomes Mike Fink's tricks and beats him down the river. The two overcome their differences and battle River Pirates together.

Mike Fink, who actually was a real person, was known as the king of the keelboaters and often raced people up and down the Mississippi River and Ohio River. Due to the popularity of the episodes on the Davy Crockett television show, Mike Fink's Keel Boats first opened up in Disneyland in 1955. Due to the popularity of the attraction, when the Magic Kingdom first opened, the Mike Fink Keel Boats were one of the opening day attractions with two boats named the Gullywhumper and Bertha Mae.

So what's up with the building? Interestingly enough, the load/unload area for Mike Fink's Keel Boats wasn't located here, but near the entrance to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. So why this building? In addition to Mike Fink's Keel Boats opening on October 1, 1971, Mike Fink's eventual ally, Davy Crockett, had an opening day attraction in the form of Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes which closed in 1994. The load/unload area for the canoes? Right where Mike Fink's current sightseeing location hub is located!


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