This really is a year when “any dream can come true”… Once again, guests can wind their way through the thick forests and jagged ochre rocks to Smuggler’s Cove, where either the Coyote or Raccoon keelboat will be waiting to take them for a pleasant, slow-paced tour of the Rivers of the Far West.

Controlled entirely by the Cast Member skippers, these keelboats follow a course that takes them far closer to Big Thunder Mountain and Wilderness Island, giving those on-board a unique close-up of the Western landscape and its wild animal population. As the boat rounds the farthest end of Big Thunder, you’ll even get to sail right through the giant Rainbow Arch.

Along the way, you’ll be kept in the Frontier mood with special area music on-board the boat and your “river pirate” skipper will entertain the decks by pointing out key features of the landscape, not to mention knocking out a few Jungle Cruise-style jokes! (though not quite as bad, apparently!)

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Sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it? The two keelboats – directly inspired by the 1956 Disney film ‘Davy Crockett and the River Pirates‘ – are quite a unique feature for the park themselves. We’ve not been able to see inside them for 7-8 years, so the unusual seating either on top of the boat or down almost below the water level might come as a surprise to some.

The boats are scheduled to run at least until the end of the Summer season (26th August 2007), but no word yet if they’ll continue to ply the rivers beyond that date. We can certainly hope to see them as a permanent Summer fixture each year from now on.

The West isn’t Wild enough yet!

So, after returning Molly Brown to service, giving Mark Twain another touch up, repainting almost all of the Thunder Mesa town, completing a two-month refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain, restoring the Disneyland Railroad Frontierland Depot and bringing a bright “ranch” red glow back to Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, have they reached the end of the tick-list? Not yet…

For over five years, Critter Corral has sat empty with a sign stating, “We’ll be back next season!” – only to remain empty the following year.

In their photo roundup dated 14th July 2007, the Photos Magiques team noted a few construction fences around one of the buildings at the entrance to the former children’s farm. This weekend, more strange things have happened – the entire area has been surrounded with fences, from the railroad to the old Woodcarver’s Workshop, even entirely obscuring the view of the area from the railroad line, all carrying the 15th Anniversary “we’re preparing something new” signs…

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So, preparing for the return of animals to the Cottonwood Creek Ranch farm, or preparing for an entirely different future development? With such an abundance of fences and the permanent return of live animals seeming very unlikely, the days of the old Critter Corral appear to be numbered.

But before any inevitable rumours start – no, this won’t be for a Splash Mountain!

All photos by the new-look Photos Magiques! See more in their latest updates.

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