Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mike Fink Keelboats

Because I think this sort of thing is important to be available (which ought to show you more or less where my priorities are), today I present, for your reading pleasure, a transcribed WDI-approved show spiel for Walt Disney World’s Mike Fink Keelboats. The material is undated but based on layout and typeface I’d place this as being from around 1994 and no later than 1998, some of the final years of operations for the Keelboats.

For those of you who don’t remember or, more likely, just never bothered to ride this minor staple, Mike Fink Keelboats was an attraction which, like a lot of Orlando attractions, outlived its’ Anaheim counterpart by several years, running from 1971 to 2001. It originally boarded from the landing near The Haunted Mansion, but had moved into Frontierland proper by at least 1996 (which is another reason I say this spiel is early 90’s). The boats, free-floating vessels and numbering two, were driven by comedically inept pilots on a tour of the river region, much like the Jungle Cruise today. Since the Liberty Square Riverboat(s) and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes cover(ed) much of the same ground, combined with an mid 90’s accident on Disneyland’s boats, it’s not especially surprising that these eventually went away.

More importantly, this is a pretty delightful spiel, much better than those provided for current spiel attractions like Jungle Cruise or Great Movie Ride. Of course, and I’ve included Disney’s instructions here for emphasis, pilots weren’t supposed to deviate from this patter but, just like at Jungle Cruise, being out in the heat tends to do irrational things to otherwise sensible people. Aside from a strange, forced drawl written into the spiel (if Keelboats was a Frontierland attraction in spirit why did it load from Liberty Square anyway?), I consider this worthy of reprinting here due to the sometimes genuinely funny jokes and the contagious nature of the writing – don’t be surprised if you, like me, find yourself repeating this aloud as you read along!

4.1 General


4.1 General

Live narrations are made only on the dock and boat during operation. Any deviation from the following standard narrations may be done only at the direction of the Lead or Supervisor.

4.2. Dock Narration

The following narration is presented to guests on the dock prior to boarding the Mike Fink Keelboats:

Folks, the (name of the boat) will be back in __ minutes. Please continue all the way through the turnstiles, filling in all available space on the landing. Also, we’d like to ask that you finish all eating, drinking, or smoking material before boarding. Thank you.

4.3 Mike Fink Keelboat Narration

The following narration is presented to guests on the keelboat before boarding:

Howdy folks! C’mon aboard the (Bertha Mae, Gullywhumper), the purtiest durn keelboat ‘tween here an’ ever’ place else.

Mind yer step, now, an’ mind yer head, an’ mind yer young’uns in you got any. While yer mindin’ things, you may as well mind your manners, cuz we ain’t left civilization yet.

Seein’ as how this is what you call a ‘keelboat’, I reckon you ladies and gents up atop thar better scoot all the way down, an’ sit on the dock side o’ the boat first. If’n you don’t, we may be “keelin’” over quicker’n you kin say, “Gosh, Ma, but ain’t this river wet!”

Just scoot along all the way. Thar. That’s it.

Now folks, I’m mighty glad to see y’all comin’ aboard my boat today. It’s like I was tellin’ my pal Davy t’uther day – Davy, I says, folks ‘round these parts ain’t skeered o’ no river pirates, castaways, or keel-boat pilots who’ve sunk more boats than a… uh, well, maybe it wasn’t Davy I was talkin’ to.

(If time, point to guests in Haunted Mansion Queue):

Say, what ‘you s’pose them folks are doin’ up there? You don’t s’pose they’re goin’ in that spooky ol’ house, do ya? Why ever’one knows that place is haunted with spirits an’ witches an’ ghosts o’ the folks who sailed on my keelboat. ‘Course I ain’t lost a boat fer quite some time. Maybe that’s ‘cuz I ain’t sailed fer quite some time. Any o’ you folks know how to sail a keelboat? Uh-oh. Looks like I may be losin’ a nuther one.

Folks, before we leave the dock, there’s one thing I gotta ask: have any o’ you seen a lucky rabbit’s foot lyin’ around? No? How ‘bout a lucky beaver nose? A lucky moose ear? Possum gizzard? Alligator spleen? Tarnation, this could be a real short trip.

(Filler, if needed)

Say, while we’re waitin’ to see if the boat still leaks, why don’t we have some music? Let’s all join in a little song… you folks know the fourth movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, opus 61 in D minor? Okay, one, two… (hums) Hey, this ain’t s’posed to be a solo! Well, how ‘bout this one… “Who’s the pilot of the boat / that sinks beneath the sea / (starts spelling out first name)” … Gee, you folks ain’t musically inclined, are ya?

(Alternative filler)

Funny thing about these here keelboats… no matter how many time ya run ‘em aground, or sail ‘em over a waterfall, or capsize ‘em, they just bob right back to the surface where you can patch ‘em up and do it all over again. Yep, there’s no safer place than a keelboat. ‘Specially if ya keep it out of the water.

(As boat prepares to leave)

Okay, I think you’ve had enough time to think twice ‘bout sailin’ with me. If my pardner there will give us a hand.. (Dockman claps) …very funny. Save that fer… if… I mean when we get back. Now give us a shove, an’ mind you, don’t fall in, like last time.

(Pushed away by Dockman)

How ‘bout a nice round of applause fer him, folks? Make him happy… he may have to come rescue us, later.

(Boat gets underway)

Welcome, once again to the (Bertha Mae, Gullywhumper), folks, one o’ the finest keelboats on the river. ‘Course its jest about the only keelboat the river. But even if there was a dozen keelboats on the river, it’d still be in the top ten or twelve.

‘Fore we get moving too fast, I want to remind y’all to stay seated at all times even if the urge strikes you to stand up an’ applaud at one a my jokes. The river’s purty treacherous if’n you don’t know it real well. Any o’ you folks acquinated with this here river? Hmmm.. wish I had that rabbit’s foot.

My name’s (first name), by the way, but since we’re gonna be on this river fer at least three or four days, you can call me (same).

Now this here boat is usually piloted by anuther feller entirely, but last night he got hung up down the river a ways. His neck’s gonna hurt fer a spell, but he’ll be okay. In the mean time, he’s turned the tiller over to me and told me to get you folks up river all safe and sound. I don’t reckon I know why he did that, cuz I ain’t never sailed one o’ these here boats. Naw, I’m jest foolin’. I could do this in my sleep. And I frequently do.

(Passing Frontierland)

All along the shore over yonder is Frontierland… sort o’ the last outpost ‘fore you git into the wilderness.

One o’ the landmarks o’ these here parts in the County Bar Jamboree, a whole bunch o’ singin’, dancin’, and geetar playin’ bars. Yup, thar’s quite a show “bruin” over thar. It’s purty “grizzly”. No “claws” fer alarm, though. Think you can “bar” any more o’ these jokes?

Now, when the wind’s blowin from off left thar, ya can hear folks a’ screamin’ louder n’ pigs in a waller. Well them screams are comin’ from folks that wander into Splash Mountain a’ lookin’ fer B’rer Rabbit’s laughin’ place. But what folks don’t know is – that ole’ laughin’ place leads right smack dab into the wettest, wild ride this side o’.. (looks to his right) this side o’…. (looks to his left) Say, any o’ you folks been watching whar we’re a goin’?

Wait a minute, ain’t that Tom Sawyer’s Island off to the right, thar. Sure nuff, them’s the rafts you have to ride to git over thar. Haw! Funny lookin’ rigs, ain’t they? Makes ya glad you’re on a keelboat, don’t it? I said, makes ya glad yer on a keelboat, don’t it!?

(Boat turns up river)

This here is where we start headin’ up river and into the wilderness… don’t panic – I know my way ‘round these parts like I know… uh, say, any o’ you folks got one o’ them little maps handy? Haw! I’m only foolin’ agin. Why, even a keelboat pilot ain’t that dim. I always keep my own copy.

(Approaching Big Thunder Mountain Railroad)

Say, looky thar! It’s a bodacious mountain, out here on the edge o’ nowhere. I hear tell there’s a gold mine up thar. I’d go up an’ see, ‘cept I like to mine my own business. Anyway, that train ride up to the top o’ the mountain seems pretty skeery, I think I’ll stick to sailin’ the river… ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and…

Just up ahead here, my cousin Zeke’s got a new cabin right alongside the river. I like to stop in now and then to say howdy.. I say, do you hear somethin’ funny? No, I don’t mean my jokes, I mean somethin’ funny.

(At cabin)

Well push me in the river and call me a duck, Donald, lookit that! Looks like cousin Zeke’s havin’ a house-warming party. You would know I’d ferget to bring the marshmellers. Hey, Zeke! How d’you like yer new house… well done?

(Passing train bridge):

Folks, ever’ once in a while you can see one o’ them Iron Horse critters huffin’ and puffin’ along them tracks yonder. I always thought I’d make a mighty fine Engineer. Seems like it’d be hard to sink a locomotive.

Folks, I hope y’all recognize the significant achievement represented by this particular point in our journey. Yup, that’s right, I never made it this far before.

‘Course maybe I spoke too soon. Out here we gotta be on the lookout for wild animals and river pirates. Or was that wild rivers and animal pirates? I’m getting’ confused. Sure you ain’t seen no rabbit feet?

(Approaching Indian village)

Now up thar is an American Indian village. These folks is right peaceful and real friendly like. Fact is, everythin’ I learned about the river, I learned from them. Course, I’ve plum forgot most of it… but y’all done figger’d that out by now, I reckon.

(Boat rounds bend in river)

Now I don’t aim to worry you folks, but we lost seventeen boats along this stretch o’ the river just last week. No, it ain’t what you think. Only 13 of ‘em were mine. Heck, them’s purty good odds fer us keelboat pilots.

Now, folks, if you thought my singin’ was bad, listen to them rascal river pirates hollerin’ away in that cave yonder. That’s what I call singin’ uck-apella.

(After a pause)

Whew! Folks, you kin all breathe agin, we’re through the worst of it. You weren’t skeered none, were you? That’s good. It ain’t safe for the passengers and the pilot.

Say! Do you recognize these waters? How ‘bout them waters over thar? Or that little ripply spot yonder? Yeah, one bit o’ water looks purty much like all the rest, don’t it? Be that as it may – uh, whatever that means – I think we made it. Yup, we’re almost home.

(Howl from Haunted Mansion)

Now, don’t go howlin’ it ain’t like we’ll never see each other agin. You kin come back and visit any time you like. Jest ask fer (first name), the finest keelboat pilot who ever keeled a boat.

(Haunted Mansion looms into view)

Uh-oh, there’s that creepy house agin. My cousin, Zeke, he once saw a real, live ghost walkin’ past one of them winnders. ‘Course Zeke tended to see lots of things, ‘specially after he’d seen the bottom of a jug. Yeah, he’d see pink ellyphants, purple wombats, folks with big round mouse ears stickin’ out o’ their heads…

(Boat approaches landing)

Well, folks, we’re comin’ up on Liberty Square, which means yer jest about free. Ever’body stay seated till I figure out how to park this thing.

(Boat is safely docked)

Well, how bout that? I done an’ did it! Okay, folks, you kin escape now. Abandon keelboat. Careful o’ yer feet and yer heads and yer kids and anything else that may or may not be of value to you.

Have a nice day, ever’one. If you feel like pushin yer luck, come back fer another ride some other time.

(To Dockman):

Hey, _________, you owe me five dollars. I made it all the way ‘round this time! Now let’se see if you kin do it! The (Bertha Mae, Gullywhumper) don’t seem to be leakin’ no more, so you should be able to take these fine folks up the crick, if you know what I mean.

4.4. Breakdown Narrations

In a breakdown situation, make the following announcements.

Audience Control –

Folks, the Mike Fink Keelboats are experiencing technical difficulties, and we are unable to cruise at this time. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but please check back with us later on today. Thank you and we hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in The Magic Kingdom park.


Josh said...

Wow. It's been a loooong time since I got to ride a keel boat. I did used to enjoy them when they were still in service. That spiel is hilarious - thanks for that great start to my morning.

Jeffrey Pepper said...

Great find, Chris!

I believe I only did the keel boats once or twice; they were rarely ever open during the slower times I usually visited. Reading the spiel was a treat.

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FoxxFur said...

...Well, I guess ya can't stop 'em all! *cue zany music*

accomplish said...

Did the Keelboats only use male CMs or did it at least open with only male CMs like Jungle Cruise? Even as a current female Skipper, that script looks like it'd be a bit of stretch for women. (Though that is really because I am horribly biased against accents that make women seem inferior in any way.)

accomplish said...

Did the Keelboats use only male CMs or at least open that way like Jungle Cruise? Even as a current female Skipper, that script seems like a bit of a stretch, though that is mostly because I am horribly biased about accents making women sound inferior in any way.

Unknown said...

Actually, it was 1996 or so when women were trained at WDW on the keelboats - I know this as I was the 4th and final woman at WDW trained (mine in 1997). The spiel here is also a bit of a departure - it's not the sanctioned one, rather more of a "Jungle Cruise lite" version that was much out of use from at least 1997-closing a few years later. As for accents, we used something akin to Mississippi meets back bayou. Much of the story centered around Davy Crockit and Mike Fink's race with a bit o' sightseeing sprinkled in. Have to say that one of the best parts of the attraction was the hours - 9AM to no later than 6PM in summers...plenty of time to break before working Spectromagic :-)