Among Disneyland Park’s greatest assets is its overabundance of attractions. With over 45 named rides and shows — more than any other park in the Touring Plans database — it’s inevitable to find some duplication among Disneyland’s lineup.
The existence of several pairs of extremely similar experiences makes crafting an efficient touring plan a little more interesting. A prime example is the pairing of Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train. Both Fantasyland attractions date back to Disneyland’s earliest days, and traverse the same elaborately manicured real estate.
It stands to reason that one of the two should be expendible on an efficient itinerary. Indeed, we do not include either attraction in our basic adult-oriented one-day touring plan. But we do suggest the inculsion of one or the other on all our kid-focused and multi-day plans. The question is, which trip to take?
The short answer is that our critical rating in the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland is 2½ stars for Casey Jr., and 3 stars for Storybook Land. But not so fast — both rides have their adherents, for good reasons:
- With both trains running, Casey Jr. can handle crowds quicker than the canal boats (though neither is a quick loader).
- The trains’ modest velocity and elevation make it mildly thrilling compared to the sedate boats.
- The monkey cage train cars, though uncomfortable for adults to ride in, make for a great photo.
- The prerecorded Casey Jr. theme song is insistently catchy.
- Unlike the Canal Boats, Casey Jr. doesn’t shut down during the parade.
- At about under 4 minutes, it’s over quickly if you don’t enjoy it.
- Like at the Jungle Cruise, the live narration of the canal boat drivers adds immensely to the experience, especially if you get a clever one.
- The boats give a much better view of the amazingly detailed fairytale miniatures along the waterways.
- Though its maximum capacity is lower, Storybook Land can move guests quicker than Casey Jr. does with only one train running.
- Over 6 minutes of cruising time means this one of the longer rides at Disneyland, making it a great return on your wait time investment.
I personally give the nod to the Canal Boats, but I urge everyone on a relaxed vacation schedule to give both a try, especially if the wait is under 20 minutes. While neither ride ranks among Disneyland’s most popular attractions, I’ve personally had “magical” experiences on both.
During my last visit to Disneyland, my wife and I were in line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats shortly before closing time. I noticed that we were the only people in the queue, and mentioned to my wife that we might get a boat all to ourselves. Just then a large family got in line behind us, and we assumed we would share our trip with them. But a cast member must have overheard us, because they held the group back and let us board alone for a private tour.
On an earlier occasion, we managed to board Casey Jr. just as the fireworks began. We not only got to experience the ride, but also had an exquisite view of the explosions seemingly surrounding us. The best part was getting an eyeful of the acrobatic Tinker Bell and Dumbo used in the Believe seasonal sky show.
On my first ever sailing through Storybook Land, I lucked out by boarding the boat of skipper “Mary Ann.” She split my sides with her sotto voce sunnily snarky side-comments, which I captured on the following video. I still see her regularly operating rides in Fantasyland, and never fail to notice her infectious enthusiasm.
For comparison purposes, here is a video I shot of a daytime ride on Casey Jr. Circus Train.
Which of these two rides do you include on your personal Disneyland touring itinerary? Neither or both? Tell me in the comments below!