Fantasyland, the most magical land in Disneyland, is where the fairytales of classic Disney films come to life. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, stands at the entrance to this land. Across the drawbridge are adventures with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the characters of Alice in Wonderland.
Other attractions include It’s a Small World, which originally debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. The Storybookland Canal boats and the Casey Jr. Circus Train take you through a wonderful miniature world of Disney fairytales, and the Fantasyland Theater features Disney Princesses in a unique meet and greet. Don’t miss the newly opened Pixie Hollow, where Tinkerbell and her friends await you.
You can also travel to the towering peaks of The Matterhorn for an encounter with the Abominable Snowman. You can also meet the princesses and other characters throughout the land, including Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella at various points of the day.
You can also take part in the Sword in the Stone Ceremony, that is done throughout the day in front of the King Arthur Carousel.
Fantasyland Music #1
Other highlights in Fantasyland include Peter Pan’s Flight, and the newly re-opened Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough attraction which takes visitors inside Sleeping Beauty Castle for a fun, updated experience. Snow White’s Scary Adventures has also recently gotten some lighting upgrades.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle was created using the features of many different castles throughout Europe. While much of the structure appears to be stone, it was originally built out of mostly wood. The castle recently was completely remodeled for the 50th Anniversary.
Unlike Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World, there was nothing originally planned for the inside of the castle. In 1957, in anticipation of the film Sleeping Beauty, a walkthrough display area was added featuring many scenes from the film.
The walkthrough attraction had been closed since September of 2001, but re-opened featuring all new scenes and advanced lighting and special effects.
Sleeping Beauty Castle Music
It’s a Small World, located near the rear of the park, is perhaps one of the happiest attractions in Disneyland. Boats, similar to those used in The Pirates of the Caribbean, carry guests through the different lands of the world with children singing the theme song, Sherman and Sherman’s It’s a Small World in several different languages.
Imagineer Rolly Crump designed the workings and animations on the facade, complete with the clock tower, as well as well as most of the settings within the ride itself. The character design for the children and figures were by the late Imagineer Marc Davis. The contemporary look and design of the overall layout was the work of Mary Blair, an artist at the Disney Studio, who is also responsible for the murals visible in Tomorrowland, and much of the animation work done on such films as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The color scheme of the facade has changed a great deal over the course of the years, with varying pastel shades of pink and purple. In September of 2002, the facade was restored to it’s original color scheme of white with accents.
It’s a Small World was one of four attractions that Disney presented at the World’s Fair in 1964. Pepsi-Cola and Unicef had approached Disney about doing an attraction for the World’s Fair, and the company initially turned them down. Walt heard about this, and pledged to build an attraction anyway. The design and construction of It’s a Small World occurred in the space of only nine months. A large tower, called The Tower of the Four Winds was also designed and constructed by Rolly Crump, but because of it’s immense size and other factors, it was never sent to Disneyland and was dismantled.
Other attractions at the Fair included: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Progressland (which included the the Carousel of Progress) and Ford Pavilion’s Magic Skyway. Deals were made after the Fair to bring all of these attractions to Disneyland, where they have remained ever since, with the exception of The Magic Skyway, but portions are still visible in the Primeval World along the route of the Disneyland Railroad.
During the holiday season, the attraction becomes It’s a Small World Holiday, Instead of the familiar theme, Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls are sung throughout the attraction (with several transitions using the original “Small World” theme) and the facade is covered with beautiful colored lights. Don’t miss the spectacular lightshow on the facade every 15 minutes!
It’s a Small World Area Music
The Holiday version is featured below:
It’s a Small World Holiday
The King Arthur Carousel returns to Disneyland Park after a long refurbishment in which the majority of the attraction was rebuilt. New enhancements to the attraction include additional handicapped access and “bench” style seating. Hand Crafted and painted, no two horses are identical. The horses were altered at Walt Disney’s request to make them appear to be leaping. The railings on the carousel are polished nightly, (a six hour job) and all 72 of the horses are kept in great shape with constant repainting.
The presence of the Carousel is a tribute to the carousel in Griffith Park, which Walt Disney took his daughters to on Saturday afternoons. It was here were Walt would get his ideas for Disneyland.
The horses were originally carved in Germany over a century ago. King Arthur’s Carousel has been with the park since it’s opening in July of 1955, but was slightly relocated when Fantasyland was refurbished in 1983.
King Arthur Carousel
This attraction, one of the original “dark rides” in Fantasyland, tells the story of Snow White, Disney’s first full length animated feature. Along the way, the wicked Queen has other plans in mind for Snow White.
In the queue you hear the evil Queen, plotting against Snow White. You walk past evidence of her mischief. Try to toss a coin into the bowl on the table and proceed to your ride vehicle, which are named after each of the 7 dwarves. Inside, you’ll go through the Dwarves house, past the diamond mine and into the dungeon of the Evil Queen.
This attraction was redone for the 1983 refurbishment of Fantasyland, but many of the same elements remained unchanged. In case you missed it, be sure to visit Snow White’s Grotto to the left of the castle entrance. It’s a very charming area of the park.
Note: While the title implies the ride may be too scary for children, it’s relatively tame.
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
The Matterhorn, which has recently returned to service, towers 147 feet above Fantasyland, and is rated as one of Disneyland’s most thrilling attractions. Passengers board bobsleds and make a climb to the top of the mountain and then speed through ice tunnels, finally splashing down in a small lake. An encounter with the Abominable Snowman adds to the excitement! Be aware this is a high speed roller-coaster thrill ride. If you suffer from health or back problems, you should not ride.
Matterhorn Area Music
The recent refurbishment involved the rebuilding of the queue to accommodate wheelchair access, and the surrounding walkways were repaved to match with the rest of Fantasyland and Small World Mall. There are no major changes to the ride itself.
Don’t miss Mickey and friends ascending the Matterhorn daily throughout the Summer and on limited weekends during the off-season. A complete video of their journey is available on video below. The narrator of this fun ‘extra’ is Corey Burton, the Ghost Host of Haunted Mansion Holiday!
The Matterhorn opened as part of a huge expansion of Tomorrowland, which included the opening of an updated Skyway, the Alweg Monorail, and the Submarine voyage. The skyway used to travel from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, unfortunately, the skyway has been removed and the “holes” in the mountain have been filled in. When the attraction first opened, the interior of the mountain was very unrealistic looking. The addition of the “ice caves” and more encounters with the Abominable Snowman created a truly unique experience.
Alice in Wonderland tells the story of Alice’s adventure after she follows a white rabbit. Based on the Lewis Carroll book, riders board large caterpillars, and go through a maze of adventures with Alice.. Numerous characters from the film include The Queen of Hearts, The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. Don’t be fooled. The ride may look short, but in actuality is lasts close to 4 minutes. This ride is based on Disney’s 1951 classic Alice in Wonderland. Another attraction, based on the same film, is the Mad Tea Party The attraction changed slightly with the renovation of Fantasyland in 1983, but the ride basically remained intact.
Alice in Wonderland
Using an array of fiber optics, lighting and other special effects, this attraction is one of Fantasyland’s most beautiful attractions. It is located just beyond the Sleeping Beauty Castle to your right. The attraction has been recently refurbished and is featured in the video below.
Based on the Disney animated classic, guests travel in pirate ships, suspended from above, out of the nursery and out into the night, passing over several London landmarks. From there, you’ll see Never Never Land, witness a duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and finally return home safely.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Based on the 1940’s film Pinocchio, this attraction follows the story of Pinocchio, from his experiences on Pleasure Island, to almost being eaten by Monstro the whale, and finally coming home to be reunited with Geppetto. Many impressive visual effects, and the use of fiber optics make this an attraction adults and kids can both enjoy.
The attraction is located near the King Arthur Carousel, directly next to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. There are a couple of scary moments in the attraction, so make sure young children are aware.
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
Based on the Disney film Dumbo, the Casey Jr. Circus train gives a quick tour of Storybook land. It’s a favorite with children. The cars are each themed for specific “wild animals”. Adults may wish to get rid of any large bags or otherwise before riding this attraction, since the cars are somewhat cramped. If you want a slower, more detailed look at Storybookland, consider the Storybookland Canal Boats.
The Casey Jr. Circus Train opened just a couple weeks after opening, on July 31st, 1955, and further showcases Walt Disney’s love of trains.
Casey Jr. Circus Train
The concept for this ride dates back to the early days of Walt’s plans for a small park across the street from his Burbank Studio. When plans for Disneyland were being made, there was going to be a “Lilliputianland”, where everything was in miniature. Again, this never made it to the final plans for the park, and this attraction opened under the name “Canal Boats of the World”. A year after it’s initial opening, and after some changes to the attraction, a new theme was born; Storybookland, and the name was changed to Storybook Land Canal Boats. Buildings from various stories and Disney films in miniature are here, and the ride is constantly being upgraded for new features. (Aladdin is the most recent addition). Casey’s Jr’s Train also travels through Storybook Land, but the view is much better (and you tend to miss less) on the Canal Boats.
You begin the attraction by boarding a small boat, and then you enter the mouth of Monstro, the whale from Pinocchio. You pass by several locales featured in classic Disney flims and stories, with beautiful landscaping and attention to detail. The tiny trees and shrubs were specially collected for their dwarfed size, and they are specially pruned and maintained to keep their size. Next to the homes of the Three Little Pigs, there are 2-foot “oaks”, and the evergreens surrounding Snow White’s house were found in Northern California.
This attraction, popular with children, puts them in the driver’s seat of their very own Dumbo! Based on the film, riders board large elephants and circle around Fantasyland. This was one of the first attractions in Fantasyland, although it has been updated a few times. In 1990, the current mechanisms were installed, originally meant for Disneyland Paris just a couple years away. For a similar attraction, see the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland. There are sixteen dumbo elephants, and atop the center is Timothy Mouse.
Dumbo is located near the Storybookland Canal Boats.
Dumbo Flying Elephant Music
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride remains one of the most popular in Fantasyland. The attraction is based on the 1949 film “The Wind in the Willows” or commonly referred to as “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”. You board one of J. Thaddeus Toad’s stolen red motorcars and speed across the English countryside, through the streets of London and a fiery finale.
While most of the attraction consists of two-dimensional cutouts and painted scenery, blacklight effects and some surprises make it an enjoyable ride for all ages.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride