The return was first confirmed by La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum just last Wednesday, and before fans of Keelboats even had time to pick their jaws up off of the floor, the Keelboats were sighted plying the rivers of Frontierland in preparation for the grand re-opening:

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A full refurbishment of the two boats, the Coyote and the Raccoon, and their well-themed loading dock was actually completed over one year ago, with Karl Holz and the operations teams hoping the boats would return for Summer 2006… but they never did. According to La Rouquine, it wasn’t a budget issue as many would have guessed, but infact an issue with training Cast Members to French boating standards in time for the Summer season.

Since the Cast Members running the boats entirely control their route, they must now have a full boating licence, which would have meant training off-site for a considerable time. La Rouquine reports that for the first time the go-ahead has now been given for the Cast Members to train on-site, but with an experienced, external instructor.

The boats originally ceased general service at the end of the 90s, with several brief days of opening in 2000 and 2001 before a full closure from the start of 2002. With only two boats in operation and a large team of Cast Members required, the boats don’t offer the kind of guest-munching, low-cost service operations teams usually enjoy, but in terms of giving life back to the Rivers of the Far West, their effect is unparalled.

Around fifteen Cast Members will join the attraction’s operations team, with an opening currently aimed at late June or early July. It seems likely the operations schedules currently call for a Summer season operation only, but should the return be a success, who knows what this fan-pleasing operations team will decide for the future…

Photos by Photos Magiques, 16/06/2007.

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