Arriving before sunrise at Magic Kingdom, scores of Disney Cast Members spent several mornings in July chanting “stroke, stroke, stroke” along the Rivers of America as they competed in the annual Canoe Races Around the World.

© Copyright Disney

© Copyright Disney

A total of 75 teams from men’s, women’s and co-ed leagues in pro and recreational divisions paddled their way around Tom Sawyer Island before park open. Those with the best times, averaging around five minutes, advanced to the finals and had a chance to race against the clock in a championship round.

Steering is the key to winning the race. We hold a steerers clinic every year to give everyone an edge going into the races. You can definitely see a difference in the teams that choose to take advantage of it.
Paige McCalmon, Cast Activities event organizer

This year’s champion, IE Oars 3, was a men’s recreational team made up of Industrial Engineering Cast Members. Besides winning bragging rights, the championship team gets their name inscribed on a traveling award plaque that they get to keep until next year’s canoe races. This beloved Disney tradition dates back to 1963 at Disneyland, 1973 at Walt Disney World Resort and is now at Disney Parks worldwide.