When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney premiered the attraction Canal Boats of the World. The attraction was based upon the many colorful barges Walt had traveled upon during his many trips to Europe. The attraction that was fraught with problems and became not-so-affectionately known as the Mud Bank Ride because there was nothing to really look at. It closed only two months later.
In 1956, the Storybook Land Canal Boats reopened and since then the attraction has been providing Disneyland guests with a seven-minute cruise into a miniature world of Disney animated classics aboard 12-person boats named after female characters from Disney films. (The exception is the boat named, “Flower,” which is named after a boy skunk in Bambi.) Each boat is driven by a guide who explains each of the scenes along the canal.
Throughout the years, new scenes have been added and today children and adults alike love seeing the miniature homes, buildings, and scenes from fairy tale classics built with incredible detail to a 1/12 scale. Guests can see scenes from the Three Little Pigs, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Frozen and more.
This is one of my favorite attractions because I love watching the looks on my children’s faces as they watch the famous scenes go by and the thrill they get riding on the boat. It is an attraction that is uniquely Disney, and what I believe to be one of the attractions that captures the essence, imagination, and magic of Disneyland. I also adore this attraction because of the great opportunities to take really fantastic photos and the fact that it is a different experience depending upon when you ride it. True fans know that you need to experience it during the day, at night and at holiday time during the day and at night.
Fun Fact: The oldest living tree at the Disneyland Resort is a Mugho Pine that is only two feet tall and more than 150 years old. Next time you visit, be sure to ask your host or hostess aboard the attraction to point it out to you.
Best Time to Ride: This attraction closes approximately 60 minutes before each parade. Watch the day’s parade near “it’s a small world” and then head straight over to the attraction once it passes by. When the attraction reopens, your wait will be much shorter than any other time the rest of the day!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2011 and updated in 2017.