Mike Fink Keel Boats
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|Mike Fink Keel Boats|
|Opening date||December 25, 1955|
|Closing date||May 17, 1997|
|Opening date||October 1, 1971|
|Closing date||April 29, 2001|
|Disneyland Park (Paris)|
|Opening date||April 12, 1992|
|Vehicle names||Disneyland: Gullywhumper, Bertha Mae
Magic Kingdom: Gullywhumper, Bertha Mae
Disneyland Park (Paris): Raccoon, Coyote
Mike Fink Keel Boats were small boats that navigated the Rivers of America at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort. An identical attraction called River Rogue Keel Boats still exists at Disneyland Park in Disneyland Paris.
The Mike Fink Keel Boats were based on the Walt Disney television shows, later made into feature-length movies, Davy Crockett's Keel Boat Race and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. The boats were free-floating and traveled around Tom Sawyer Island. The ride was named after the "King of the River" who lost the keel boat race.
Riders would sit on benches either inside the cabin or on the roof of the cabin.
The keelboats at Disneyland closed at the end of the summer on September 6, 1994 and remained closed for nearly a year-and-a-half until coming back in early March 1996. The Magic Kingdom's keel boats ran continuously until they finally closed in April 2001.
Reasons for closing
At about 5:30 p.m. on May 17, 1997, the Disneyland Gullywhumper boat began to rock side to side. It capsized, dumping a full boatload of passengers into the Rivers of America, leaving several with minor injuries. The boat was removed from the waters for inspection and neither the Gullywhumper nor the Bertha Mae returned for the next operating season. The Bertha Mae was put up on Disney's eBay Auction Site and was sold for $15,000 to Richard Kraft, and was later featured in a scene from Kraft's documentary Finding Kraftland. It was billed as an unseaworthy craft.
The Gullywhumper returned to Disneyland's Rivers of America as a prop and was moored on Tom Sawyer Island where passengers on the Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, the Sailing Ship Columbia, and the Mark Twain Riverboat could see it while passing. Eventually, hull damage caused the boat to flood and sink, and it was finally removed from public view in April 2009. A replica that looks more like a keel boat was built.
A former Mike Fink Keel Boat from the Magic Kingdom's version of the attraction today sits as a non-functional prop on the banks of Tom Sawyer Island.
Regarding its status at Disneyland Paris, the attraction does not appear anymore on the Park Guides or Maps. After a short opening during the summer 2010, the attraction is currently closed and hidden from the view of visitors with 'Danger: Bear Cave' signs surrounding it. The reasons for its closure or lack of operation are not clear, but some may suggest the following: small capacity (only two boats) generating great waiting lines, required extensive training to operating Cast Members (first aid, navigation procedures, etc.) and the extremely poor and dirty condition of the Rivers of the Farwest Lake make the Riverboats a non-suitable attraction for Disneyland Paris.