Friday, October 21, 2011

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Storybook Land Canal Boats
          There is a often over looked attraction in Fantasyland that many adults bypass if they don't have the little kids with them. Storybook Land Canal Boats is a fantastic look at classic Disney animation and a timeless ride for all ages. Storybook Land Canal Boats is a slow ride through many of the most beloved classic Disney cartoons, both shorts and full length going back to some of the earliest works of the Disney Studio. What makes this ride special to me is the memories it brings back to mind, both the memories of other times I've ridden the canal boats and the movies represented. I remember riding this with my grandma when I was a little one. This was another one of the rides my grandma gave me a special love for.

          What is amazing to me is the detail in each and every little house, church or shop shown. During the holidays they decorate the houses and put Christmas lights on the buildings and often you will see Christmas trees through the windows. There are also small Poinsettias and gifts at the doors and sometimes in the little boats tied to the docks. It is fun to see all the perfectly trimmed plants.

General Information on Storybook Land Canal Boats:
          Journey through the gaping mouth of Monstro the Whale to a magical realm populated by miniature representations of memorable locations from some of your favorite Disney animated movies. Storybook Land Canal Boats features intricately replicated houses, villages and palaces — complete with imaginative landscaping, charming music and special lighting effects. A live tour guide tells the story of each scenic environment.


          Board a brightly colored 12-person canal boat for a 7-minute cruise past picturesque representations of the following famous locations:

·         Cozy straw, stick and brick houses from Three Little Pigs

·         English village from Alice in Wonderland

·         Manicured London park from Peter Pan

·         Royal city of Agrabah and Cave of Wonders from Aladdin

·         The Dwarfs cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

·         French countryside village and mountaintop castle from Cinderella

·         The Giant's patchwork quilt from Lullaby Land

·         Toad Hall from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

·         Dutch windmills from The Old Mill

·         Alpine village from Pinocchio

·         Prince Eric's palace and King Triton's underwater castle from The Little Mermaid


          The hand-crafted miniatures use a scale of one inch to one foot and are as painstakingly detailed as full-sized structures. The doors on many of the buildings actually open, both for the added detail and also to help replace the light bulbs inside that illuminate the tiny windows.

Casey Jr. Circus Train

          Guests looking for a different perspective on Storybook Land can enjoy a ride on Casey Jr. Circus Train. The fast-paced train ride is located in the same area as Storybook Land Canal Boats but offers a higher vantage point of many of the scenes.

History of Storybook Land Canal Boats:

          The ride's concept dates back to Walt Disney's plans for a small park across the street from his Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. This modestly scaled, never-built amusement park was to include a gravity flow canal boat ride among its attractions.

          When plans for the much grander Disneyland were being made, there was to be a "Lilliputianland", inspired by Madurodam, a miniature city in the Netherlands that Disney once visited. However, the technology did not yet exist for creating the miniature animated figures that were to inhabit the "Lilliputian" village, so the canal ride opened under the name Canal Boats of the World. It was intended to be a journey past miniature recreations of the great landmarks of the world, but time and money prevented its completion. The ride was plagued by other problems. The outboard motors were prone to overheating, often forcing the boats to be pulled by hand, and because the attraction opened with little landscaping, it earned the nickname among park executives as "The Mud Bank Ride".

          After only two months of operation, the Canal Boats closed on September 16, 1955 while Storybook Land was constructed and the muddy banks were landscaped with miniature plants, including a bonsai tree planted by Walt Disney himself. The idea of having Monstro the whale consume the canal boats came from a never-implemented concept for a "Monstro the Whale" ride, in which small boats were to be swallowed by Monstro and hurtled down a watery path into a pond below.

          The attraction was re-opened on June 16, 1956 under the new name Storybook Land Canal Boats. Over the years there have been many scenes added and removed from the attraction. Most notably, the Sultan’s Palace from Aladdin appeared where the miniature Toad Hall had previously stood for a major refurbishment done in 1994. However, Toad Hall returned the following year in another location.

          For the theme park's 50th Anniversary, the Tinkerbell boat was painted gold and the lighthouse given a gold and maroon theme.

Disneyland version

          Passengers enter the attraction through a chain queue that winds in front of the loading dock past. A lighthouse at the queue's entrance was once a ticket booth from when Disneyland required tickets for riding individual attractions. Storybook Land canal boats originally required a "D" coupon.

          The motor-driven boats are scaled-down replicas of Dutch, English, and French boats. All of the boats are named after female Disney characters except for Flower, the male skunk from Bambi. Passengers are seated along the edges of the boat, facing inward, although children are sometimes permitted to ride on the front flat part of the boat. A costumed guide sits just above the passengers on the back of the boat, perched above the engine housing, and narrates the ride.

          After departing from the dock, the boat passes through a short cave sculpted to look like Monstro, the whale that swallowed Pinocchio. Monstro is partially animated: his eye opens and closes, and periodically steam comes out of his blow hole.

          The canals past the Monstro cave are landscaped with miniature trees and shrubs. Along the banks are small buildings representing the homes of characters from Disney animated films, although not all the locations were actually depicted in film. Many of these settings feature sound recordings of characters singing or working.

The miniature settings include:

·         Pinocchio's cobblestone village with Geppetto's wood shop

·         Toad Hall from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

·         The Sultan's palace from Aladdin

·         London Park from Peter Pan

·         The village from Cinderella, featuring a gold-spired castle

·         The dwarfs' cottage and mine from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

·         An English village, with a church and the entrance to the White Rabbit's hole, from Alice in Wonderland

·         The pigs' homes from The Three Little Pigs

·         King Triton's underwater castle, partially hidden behind a waterfall, from The Little Mermaid

·         Prince Eric's seaside castle from The Little Mermaid

          The boat then returns the passengers to the loading dock from which they boarded.

          Because its entrance is located along the parks' parade route, the attraction closes approximately sixty minutes before any parades and reopens after the parade has passed. During all fireworks displays, the boats stop on the canal until the show ends.

Paris version

          Unlike the original in California, a guide does not accompany the riders. The boats here are guided by an underwater wire rather than being propelled by an on-board motor. Passengers enter their boats via a slowly revolving platform. The Cave of Wonders from Aladdin midway through the voyage replaces the Disneyland version's Monstro cave. The boats also float past these settings, accompanied by music from the respective film and minimal dialogue:

·         The dwarfs' mine and house from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

·         The gingerbread house of Babes in the Woods

·         Rapunzel's high tower with a braid coming out of it, from Tangled

·         The Old Mill

·         Prince Eric's seaside castle from The Little Mermaid

·         The Greek temple and Mount Olympus from Fantasia

·         Snow-covered landscapes from Peter and the Wolf

·         The "Night on Bald Mountain" scene from Fantasia

·         The Cave of Wonders from Aladdin, which swallows the boats

·         A scene from The Sword in the Stone

·         Belle's village and the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast

·         The Emerald City and the Witch's Castle from The Wizard of Oz


          The canal contains 465,000 gallons of water, which flows via underground pipes to the moat around Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Jungle Cruise and to the Rivers of America, where it is pumped back to Storybook Land.

          The attraction's 13 boats are powered by outboard motors. When not in use, they are stored in a boathouse hidden behind the waterfall containing Triton's Castle.

          The houses in Storybook Land are fitted with six-inch doors and quarter-inch hinges that open and close, so the Disneyland electricians can change the lightbulbs.

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