July 1955 – present
Fantasyland – if you enter through the castle, follow the path to the back garden, and take a right at Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. You will see the Storybook Land Canal Boats just beyond the Mad Tea Party.
One of Walt Disney’s first ideas for his “magical little park” was to feature a canal boat ride. He envisioned Storybook Land on a much larger scale, called Lilliputianland, but Imagineers did not have the technology to create miniature animated characters to inhabit it. So the canal boats adopted a working title: Canal Boats of the World, and the ride was incorporated with the Fantasyland portion of the park plan.
When it debuted on Opening Day, the Canal Boats of the World was plagued with problems. The ride took guests on a trip around piles of mud, since Walt effectively ran out of money. Cast members quickly dubbed it “The Mud Bank Ride”, but its problems went far beyond visuals. The boats constantly broke down, and had to be towed by hand back to the loading area. So after two months of troubled operation, the Canal Boats closed for a complete overhaul.
About a year later, The Storybook Land Canal Boats reopened with the same theme it has today. Every few years scenes are added or changed, but the ride has finally found it’s footing and continues to attract visitors by the masses.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 6:00
The Storybook Land Canal Boats take guests on a scenic ride through some of their favorite classic fairytales. First, your guide will steer you into Monstro the Whale’s giant jaws, and suddenly you arrive in Storybook Land, the home of your favorite Fantasyland characters! Guests see numerous scenes, from Pinocchio’s village to London to Agrabah, including castles where many different Disney princesses make their homes, and an enchanted cave that houses the genie’s magic lamp. Finally, guests get a peek of the underwater world of King Triton, hidden behind a rushing waterfall, before offloading in front of the raised Storybook Land garden.
MY RATING – ★★★★★
The Canal Boats are very unique and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. There are a lot of clever visual tricks (like the Matterhorn standing directly behind Pinocchio’s Alpine village!) and the scenes are remarkably detailed. Even my brother, who visits Disneyland almost exclusively for the adrenaline-pumping coasters, said that this ride was “surprisingly serene”. Whether you’re a first-time Disneyland visitor or an annual pass holder, The Storybook Land Canal Boats are a must.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats stay fairly crowded throughout the day, but there are certain times when the crowds die a little. Visit this area of Fantasyland in general at lunchtime, right after a parade ends (usually closed during parades), or first thing in the morning for the shortest wait times. However, the best possible time to ride the Canal Boats is during the fireworks. Cast members stop the boats mid-ride and you can watch from the water! Bear in mind that timing this can be very difficult, and if you are in the loading area during the show they do require you to offload.
Additionally, little kids are usually invited to be “whale watchers”. They sit on the front of the boat and get a special view of their favorite characters’ homes. If you have little ones, ask a cast member for details.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats feature an up-close-and-personal tour of Storybook Land. For a higher vantage point, visit the Casey Jr. Circus Train. The train has largely the same tour, but without live narration.
This is the only Fantasyland ride to be completely redone before the big Fantasyland refurbishment/expansion in the 1980’s.
In celebration of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, the Tinker Bell canal boat was painted gold, and the lighthouse got fresh maroon stripes.
The lighthouse was once a ticket booth in Fantasyland.