Cast Members in a blue canoe as the sun rises on the Rivers of America.

Walt Disney World Cast Paddle in HistOARic Canoe Races

For the past three weeks, the Rivers of America bordering Frontierland and Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom Park came to life with excitement and the sound of paddles hitting the water as cast members participated in Walt Disney World’s oldest cast event – Canoe Races Of the World, or C.R.O.W. for short.

C.R.O.W.’s origins began at Disneyland park in 1963, where some cast members decided to race canoes around the Rivers of America for fun. The activity quickly became a beloved tradition that has expanded to Disney Parks around the world!

Here at Walt Disney World Resort, our cast members are celebrating their 47th year of C.R.O.W. – with 74 teams of rowers.

They gathered near the Rivers of America as early as 6 a.m. each morning to participate in this year’s races with the fun theme of “C.R.O.W.BACK” – honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. With races returning during such a momentous year, cast member teams (with fun names ranging from “20,000 Oars Under the Sea” to the “Grand FlOARidians”) made sure to bring their ‘A’ games. On Tuesday, eighteen qualifying finalists competed – with the five fastest teams selected as winners. Did you know most finalists complete their laps in five to six minutes? Now that’s a fast trip around Tom Sawyer’s Island!

“Being a part of C.R.O.W., is something I will never forget,” explained Ellen Sawin, senior marketing strategy manager and a member of the winning Beauties & the Beast team.

For many rowers like Ellen, C.R.O.W. is a bonding experience, where cast members of all different roles gather together and cheer each other on. Teams wear matching shirts, prepare food and snacks for each other and have the opportunity to create new memories with each row.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet cast members from all over Walt Disney World, and we all share in the excitement of this historic event each year,” said Mike Cooper, a risk management manager who has participated in C.R.O.W. for over 20 years. “I hope to continue to introduce new cast members to “the river” – as long as they’re willing to get up early!”

As we look back on Walt Disney World’s 50-year history, our cast members – and traditions like C.R.O.W. – are a huge part of the story.

As we like to say on the river, Paddles Up until next year!