Yesterland Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Striped lighthouse with two shades of gold

It’s 2005 at Yesterland. The Happiest Homecoming on Earth marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland. The familiar red-and-white-striped lighthouse of the Storybook Land Canal Boats has an unfamiliar paint scheme and a medallion on its side.


Storybook Land, “Class of ’55—An Original”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

“Class of ’55—An Original”

Some attractions—the “Class of ’55”— have been operating since the park’s opening year. The Storybook Land Canal Boats ride proudly wears the badge.

Other alumni of the “Class of ’55” are:

  • Autopia (originally Richfield Autopia)
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Disneyland Railroad (originally Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad)
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant (originally Dumbo Flying Elephants)
  • Horse-Drawn Street Cars
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (originally Peter Pan Flight)
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures (originally Snow White’s Adventures)

They’ve been dressed up with gold paint for this golden anniversary.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

One canal boat stands out

The colorful Dutch canal boats look familiar—with one exception. Let some other guests go in front of you so that you can take a ride on the golden boat.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Golden vessel

Take a seat where the cast member tells you to. Although this boat looks different, it’s like the other boats, just with a temporary paint scheme.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Passing small miniatures and large ducks

Enjoy the ride. But don’t expect to see the same scenery that guests would have seen 50 years ago. Originally, the canals went past bare dirt and wooden railroad trestles.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

“Class of ’55”

From your golden boat, you’re likely to see a golden locomotive. The Casey Jr. Circus Train is from 1955. Back then, its passengers could see canal boats going through ditches in bare dirt.


The Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland opened June 18, 1956—which begs the question, why is this second-year attraction part of the “Class of ’55”?

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

Casey Jr. Circus Train and Canal Boats of the World

The answer is that the canal boats themselves go back to the opening of Disneyland. Walt Disney wanted Canal Boats of the World to be patterned after Madurodam in the Netherlands, an attraction which had opened in 1952 with miniature Dutch landmarks viewed from small boats. Walt planned to give his guests an international tour.

Canal Boats of the World opened without scenery. With Disneyland construction severely over budget, the miniatures would have to wait. Until then, the boats themselves would have to be the attraction. Guests did not have to wait long.

According to Disney A to Z by Dave Smith (Hyperion, 1998), Canal Boats of the World in Fantasyland only lasted from July 17 to September 15, 1955.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

Monstro, the canal-boat-swallowing whale

Eleven months after the opening of Disneyland, this boat ride became Storybook Land Canal Boats.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1961, courtesy of Robin Runck

Geppetto’s Village

Now guests would get a world tour—a Eurocentric world tour—using miniatures based on settings from some of Walt Disney’s animated features and shorts: England, home of Mr. Toad and Alice; Germany, home of Snow White; France, home of Cinderella; the Italian Alps, home of Pinocchio; and Holland, home of the windmills from The Old Mill.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

Casey Jr. Circus Train platform

What had been bare dirt was covered with plants—carefully chosen and pruned to enhance the miniature worlds. Storybook Land also served as scenery for the winding route of the Casey Jr. Circus Train.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1961, courtesy of Robin Runck

Cinderella’s Castle

Because Cinderella’s Castle stood on the top of a tapering “mountain“ and there were no large trees around it (when viewed from below), a forced perspective effect made it look larger than its actual size—even though it was meant to be one of the miniatures of Storybook Land.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1960, courtesy of Robin Runck

Cinderella’s Castle, from the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad

For the first ten years of Cinderella’s Castle, guests could get a different perspective on it. Until the railroad track around Disneyland was rerouted to provide room for expansion (including “it’s a small world”), it went right by the north side of the castle.

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor

Circus train at Storybook Land, early years

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1961, courtesy of Robin Runck

Circus train at Storybook Land, 1961

Storybook Land and the “Class of ’55”

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Circus train at Storybook Land, 2009

Storybook Land has aged gracefully. The miniatures have been maintained meticulously. The trees have grown and the landscaping looks better than ever.

There are new miniatures too—and that will be the subject of a future Yesterland article.


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Updated July 14, 2015.