Friday, August 18, 2006

Three Alternate Histories

The "Burning Settler's Cabin" at Disneyland had an everchanging history, reflecting whatever happened to be politically correct at the time.

When I was a kid, there was a dead settler in front of the cabin, Indian arrow prominently sticking out of his back, while the recorded voice on the Mark Twain told us about the dangers faced by the early pioneers.

Sometime in the `70s or `80s, the body was replaced by a "sleeping moonshiner" complete with jug, who, the audience was told, had drunkenly set the cabin on fire before passing out. I never saw that version at Disneyland - the last time I was at the park was in 1971, but I'm pretty sure I saw it at Disneyworld.

A version I missed at both parks - which I'm just as happy about - was some weird environmental scenario, where the cabin's resident had accidently set the cabin on fire again, this time in an attempt to evict a family of eagles who had taken up residence in its eaves. Don't look at me that way. I don't write `em. I just report `em.

In any case, the bean counters at Disneyland had the fire permanently shut off, although it may still be burning at WDW, and I guess when you round the curve now on the Rivers of America, you just see a blackened cabin, and the narrative says something about it... or maybe not. Which is a shame, 'cause as the folks at Re-imagineering say, it was "one of the coolest experiences a kid and his parents could share together."

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