Mr. Garrison takes the fourth grade class on an educational field trip to "Pioneer Village" (based on the Hiwan Homestead Museum in Evergreen, Colorado) where dedicated workers act as their counterparts from 1864 and never break character. Mr. Garrison tells the students to move in pairs and hold hands. Cartman is forced to take Butters as his partner and Mr. Garrison tells Butters not to let go of Cartman's hand until they are both back on the bus.
When Cartman discovers that there is an amusement center located two blocks away, "Super Phun Thyme", he decides that he wants to ditch the trip. However, Butters refuses to let go of Cartman's hand until they are back on the bus, so Cartman drags Butters along. While the rest of the kids are bored in the village, group of trigger-happy thieves led by Franz who have robbed a Burger King and flee to Pioneer Village, taking everyone hostage. Stan, Wendy, Jimmy and Kyle flee with two townspeople to an office where Kyle calls the police. The thieves find a mine shaft door in the back of the park that is locked. They start to interrogate the workers to find the code to the lock, but none of them will break character, not even to save their own lives. One of the townsfolk gets killed by Pioneer Paul for breaking character in the attempt to give the lock code.
Meanwhile, Cartman and Butters are at "Super Phun Thyme", and Butters still won't let go of Cartman's hand. This leads to Butters sullenly being dragged around as Cartman plays arcade games, rides bumper cars, plays Air Hockey with himself, and ride a coin-operated motorcycle ala the handcuffed motorcycle chase in Tomorrow Never Dies. When they finally decide to return, they see the police and assume that they are searching for the two of them. They attempt to sneak back in but become stuck on a traffic light. By then, seeing that interrogating the workers isn't going to work, Franz threatens to kill the kids instead, starting with Kenny, but the workers still refuse to break character. In a last ditch effort to save Kenny's life, Stan makes "the ultimate sacrifice" (looking like a dork in front of Wendy) and assumes a disguise portraying an out of towner and manages to give the workers an in-character way to divulge the door code, 1864.
Cartman and Butters jump the fence into the village, where one of the thieves sees and attacks them. In an attempt to capture the two he tries to make them put their hands on their heads. A very dedicated Butters simply will not let go. Upon threatening to shoot their hands off Butters uses Cartman as a weapon, bodily flinging him at the robber, and running away. Cartman and Butters, in their attempt to flee, are knocked out by a grenade. The confusion allows the police to raid the camp, killing and capturing some of the thieves. Finally a bell rings, signaling the end of the work day, and all of the village workers break character and head off to T.G.I. Friday's for some jalapeño poppers. As Franz is being arrested, he "learns something", that people in 1864 didn't have the conveniences that people in modern times take for granted. The episode ends as an injured Butters drags an unconscious Cartman all the way back into the school bus, firmly stating, "Teacher, my partner is back on the bus," finally letting go of his hand before passing out from exhaustion.