April Travels Along The Storybook Land Canal

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Disneyland Resort, Features, From the Mouth of the Mouse

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Published on September 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm with 5 Comments

While visiting Disneyland last summer for the first time in over 20 years, I finally had an opportunity to ride one of the opening day attractions that I’ve been dying to see forever: the Storybook Land Canal Boats. While it may not be as thrilling as Splash Mountain or as action-packed as Pirates of the Caribbean, it still has a place in Disneyland history as an iconic attraction.

Today we speak to April, who worked as one of the tour guides on the ride way back in 1957! I’ve had this interview for awhile, but wanted to hold back on it until I was able to experience the ride for myself, and I’m certainly glad I did!


 

JEFF: Tell me a little about the ride.

APRIL: Well, back when I worked on it, it was the same concept as it is today – a short little boat ride through some miniature sets of Disney films. The ride itself hasn’t changed much over the years, aside from having some new sets added.

JEFF: So the ride is pretty much the same now as it was back then?

APRIL: For the most part, yes. I mean, obviously the newer animated films were added – those weren’t there when I worked there. If they were, that would have been some amazing insight from the Imagineers! But yes, it is pretty much the same.

JEFF: Did you go on the ride when the Park first opened, before you became a Cast Member?

APRIL: I did. I was one of the few lucky enough to go on “The Mud Ride,” as it has come to be known. I’ve called it “The Mud Bank Ride,” too.

JEFF: The Mud Bank Ride?

APRIL: When the ride opened with the Park in 1955, there really wasn’t much too it. It was just a short ride through some small canals, with very little landscaping to it. It was supposed to be themed after different parts of the world, but it either wasn’t done in time, or the technology just didn’t exist for what they wanted to do. So, it was a ride down some canals, past some mud banks! It’s funny, because I remember a few times that the motor on some boats broke or something. They had to be pulled by hand by Cast Members around the canals.

JEFF: Sounds like another one of those opening day disasters we always hear about at Disneyland!

APRIL: Oh, it was more than just opening day! I lived close, so I went a few times during the first couple of months the park was open. I don’t remember how long it was, but eventually they closed it up to re-do it. It didn’t open again until ’56, I believe. By then, they rethemed the entire thing to Storybook Land, and put all the sets in. It obviously was much more improved then! They even added the giant Monstro to it.

JEFF: Can you tell us about your role on the ride when you worked there?

APRIL: I was one of the tour guides who sat at the back of the boat. We’d get about 10 guests into a boat, and I’d navigate it through all the scenes. We had a little spiel we used to describe each little place, telling the guests what movie it was from and who lived there. It was a fun thing to do, really. It wasn’t hard work, and we got to sit down and talk to people all day, which I liked.

JEFF: Can you tell me anything interesting about the ride?

APRIL: Actually, before you called, I looked up some stuff to refresh my memory! I found out that all the doors and windows are hinged, and they can actually open so the electricians can change their light bulbs. That’s pretty amazing, actually. I wish I’d known that back then to tell the guests!

I always liked the waterfall on the ride, which is directly to the right when you’re on line. Now, I think it has something from The Little Mermaid hidden in it. But behind it is the storage area for the other boats. Guests used to really enjoy when the waterfall would suddenly turn off, and a boat would appear from under it! That was fun to do!

Thank you, April, for sharing!

Don’t forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly From the Mouth of the Mouse.


And now for something completely different . . .

Many of you know that George Taylor and I are hosting a 30th anniversary celebration for Epcot. Unfortunately tickets have completely sold out.  HOWEVER, some of MiceChat’s finest have created two new events with plenty of room for everyone . . . a FREE scavenger hunt at Epcot and a Food and Wine Festival event. We’d love to see you!

Epcot 30th Anniversary FREE MiceQuest – Sept 29, 2012
Join MiceChat’s Kevin Yee and the Communicore Weekly crew for a FREE fun-filled scavenger hunt game celebrating Epcot’s 30th Anniversary.  The Quest, designed by Kevin Yee, is fun for the whole family and will take place on the Mexico side of World Showcase from 3:30pm until 6:30pm on September 29th, 2012.  Create a team of 1-4 people, and compete for the title of biggest Epcot geek. Fun prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

Sip and Nibble at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Sept 30, 2012
Enjoy a leisurely stroll around World Showcase with your favorite MiceChatters, sampling the food and wine offerings of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival along the way. You will be given a lanyard with a marker attached so that you can record your progress as you tour the world of food and drink! Guests who desire to partake of the adult beverages will also be given a small glass to conveniently share “sips” during our journey.  Come spend some quality time with other foodies and the best online Disney community on Earth! To reserve your place at this year’s Sip & Nibble event purchase your ticket today for just $3.99. Please click through for full event details.

 



By Jeff Heimbuch

If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!

You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here! 

Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.

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About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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  • eicarr

    Cool to see how Walt Disney helped evolve this ride from muddy banks. While not the biggest ride in the park, it’s a big part of its heart, soul and magic.

  • KENfromOC

    A little controversial here – But I’ll say it anyway. The ride was better when they had young “girl-next-door” (ie: “Disney Girls”) as the guides on the boats. When I worked at Disneyland back in the late 1970’s I remember that Storybookland was known for having the cheerleader-type cute girls working there (and Matterhorn was known for the athletic surfer type girls). Maybe I’m old fashion, but they should still keep to that. I’m not against anyone, but having “guys” on Storybook is just plain wrong! Sorry….. but sometimes I think we have taken things too far. Tradition is still nice! (And that goes for keeping “religious preferences” out of Disneyland too!)

    • Walt Fan

      You took the words outta my mouth. I couldn’t agree more.

  • TodAZ1

    Could you imagine, in today’s day and age, an attraction opening at Disneyland or DCA, where there was nothing to do or see on it? Just a little boat ride through some canals with muddy banks? Then, they close it until the next year and it’s completely different and actually has something to see and do?

    Can you imagine the crying, whining and other ‘doomsday’ warnings coming from certain people? I wonder, out of these same people, who would take credit for ‘turning things around’ for the new attraction that had nothing to when it first opened?

    Just saying………..
    Great interview, though! Would love to hear stories from more recent Storybookland CMs too!

  • danyoung

    >Could you imagine, in today’s day and age, an attraction opening at Disneyland or DCA, where there was nothing to do or see on it?<

    Yeah, it was called the Discovery River Boats, and it opened up in 1999 along with the rest of Disney's Animal Kingdom.