The Storybook Land Canal Boats is a classic Disneyland Park attraction located in Fantasyland that takes riders on a leisurely boat tour through miniature villages and scenes from beloved Disney films. Opened in 1956, just a year after Disneyland opened, this ride offers a uniquely immersive experience into storybook worlds. In this review we’ll go over the practical ride information, history & design, ride experience, and ride tips.
Average Wait Times: On average, visitors can expect wait times ranging from 20 to 45 minutes, with peak periods occurring during mid-morning and early afternoon.
Height Requirements: There are no height requirements, making it suitable for all age groups.
Single Rider: Single Rider is not available for this attraction.
Ride Duration: About 6 minutes.
Genie+ and Lightning Lane: Genie+ and Lighting Lane are not currently available for this attraction.
Rider Switch: Rider Switch is available. This allows one member of the party to wait with the non-riding guests while the others enjoy the attraction, and then switch roles without waiting in line again.
Disability Access Services (DAS): Storybook Land Canal Boats accommodate guests with disabilities through the Disability Access Service (DAS). This program ensures that all visitors, regardless of ability, can enjoy the enchanting voyage through the miniature realms without prolonged waiting times.
Best Time to Ride: Early morning, late evening, during parades/fireworks. Check out our crowd calendar for best times to visit!
History and Design
The idea for the Storybook Land Canal Boats originated from Walt Disney’s unrealized plans in the early 1950s to build a small amusement park called Mickey Mouse Park, located across the street from his Burbank studio. One of the concepts Walt had imagined for this park was a miniature village viewed from canal boats, inspired by Madurodam in the Netherlands. Although Mickey Mouse Park never materialized, Walt incorporated some of its ideas into Disneyland, including the canal boats.
When Disneyland first opened in 1955, an early iteration called Canal Boats of the World debuted. However, due to budget constraints, this ride lacked detailed theming and scenery. It was also prone to technical problems with the boats. Within just two months, it was shut down for enhancements. The redesigned and reimagined attraction, Storybook Land Canal Boats, opened on June 16, 1956.
Led by designer Bill Martin, Disney’s skilled model makers and horticulturists brought miniature buildings and landscapes to life by studying photos and concept art from the animated films. They carefully crafted the scale models and landscaping on a scale of 1 inch equals 1 foot. Special effects were also incorporated, such as playing music and dialog from the movies to further immerse riders. Over the years, new miniature scenes from Disney movies have been added. Most recently, in 2014, the village of Arendelle from Frozen was created next to the existing cottage and mine from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats provides a leisurely voyage that sparks the imagination. The ride appeals to all ages, from young children enchanted by mini worlds from their favorite films to adults impressed by the craftsmanship and details of each model. The experience begins by walking through a lush garden area to the loading dock situated right next to the Casey Jr. Circus Train.
Here you board one of the 12 ride boats, each named after a female Disney character like Cinderella or Snow White. As the boat departs, it gently glides into a cave and through the large open mouth of Monstro the whale. Emerging on the other side, you find yourself in the middle of a winding canal surrounded by miniature buildings and villages. Delightful music from Disney movies fills the air. Over the course of the 6-minute ride, highlights include:
The cozy cottage and jewel mine of Snow White’s seven dwarfs
The wild topiaries of the Queen of Hearts garden from Alice in Wonderland
Ariel’s undersea grotto from The Little Mermaid
Aladdin’s exotic Agrabah palace
In addition to recognizing familiar scenes, there are surprises around every bend. It’s fun to spot tiny details like Geppetto’s cat Figaro in the window or Chip and Dale perched in a tree. The beautifully crafted models showcase an amazing attention to detail, from the stonework and bridges to the delicately sculpted trees and shrubs. The ride concludes floating past the quaint village of Arendelle nestled at the base of the snow capped mountains from Frozen. As your boat approaches the dock, you disembark with memories of mini worlds that sparked your imagination.
Tips for Riding
Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your Storybook Land Canal Boats experience:
Arrive early. Wait times are lowest during early morning hours. Ride first thing after rope drop or during a parade or fireworks show.
Sit on the right side of the boat for the best views of the miniature scenes along the canal. The left side has more vegetation obscuring buildings.
Look down into the water for surprises like Nemo from Finding Nemo or Dory peeking out from the plants.
Listen to the music and dialog playing in each scene to feel fully immersed in the stories.
Photograph the scenery if riding without small children. But be courteous to other riders by not blocking views for long periods.
See the scenes from above by riding Casey Jr. Circus Train afterward. This elevated train circles the Storybook Land area.
Come back at night to see the buildings illuminated, adding to the magical ambiance.
In the vast tapestry of Disneyland’s attractions, Storybook Land Canal Boats stands out as a testament to Walt Disney’s vision of creating immersive and timeless experiences. From its humble beginnings as the Canal Boats of the World to its current incarnation as a living storybook, this attraction continues to capture the hearts of visitors young and old.
Whether you're a lifelong Disney fan or a first-time visitor, the Storybook Land Canal Boats invites you to embark on a leisurely voyage through miniature worlds from beloved tales. Float along the canal to relive childhood stories and appreciate intricate details that reflect Disney magic at its best.