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Disneyland Article
I Found Secret Book Reserved For One Guest Per Day

Storybook Land Canal Boats
ID:
TMS-5355
Source:
SFGate
Author:
Julie Tremaine
Dateline:
September 25, 2023
Posted:
October 2, 2023
Status:
Current
There are two kinds of Disneyland fans: the ones who ride some rides, have some fun and go home, and the ones who go so often that they’re looking for something more. Some of those people get obsessive about collecting merch or sampling every new food item. Some of those people dig deep into obscure historical tidbits about the park. And some of them push themselves to find unusual, little-known experiences and to try all of them.

I think you know where this is going.

I heard about the secret book at the Storybook Land Canal Boats, the Fantasyland attraction that takes guests for a slow, pleasant boat ride past miniatures of lands from Disney movies, and that only one person a day gets to sign it. But the information, like so much of the Disneyland lore that circles the internet, was secondhand.

As enticing as it seemed, I didn’t think about it again until I became one of those “need to try it all” people. I battled rain so intense that it was spouting upward like a fountain out of the rain gutters to get one of the elusive $20 holiday candy canes. I got up before dawn — twice — to win the “first pickle” award, which happens once a day at one specific spot in the park. I even became an honorary citizen of Disneyland.

The next mountain to climb: I was going to find that book, and I was going to sign it.

Storybook Land Canal Boats doesn’t get the love it deserves, as evidenced by its generally low wait time. The ride doesn’t have big special effects or thrills built in. But that’s the real joy of the ride. It’s a relaxing, pleasant sail, where the real effect is in the quiet of the experience, which leaves you ample time to appreciate the tiny details of the models.

An earlier version, Canal Boats of the World, was an opening day attraction in 1955. A year later, it reopened as the version it is today, with scenes from stories like “Three Little Pigs,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wind and the Willows” (which inspired Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride), which you get to after you pass through the enormous, gaping mouth of Monstro the whale from “Pinocchio.” As years passed, the park added modern movies like “Aladdin” and “Frozen.”

Every morning, as the ride opens up for the day, cast members (Disney’s term for employees) take out a guest book for the first guest of the day. Because I had already worked out a winning strategy for that pickle award, I knew the right timing: be at the gates for 7:25 a.m. entry, and walk straight into the hub in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. That’s where the ropes are that separate Main Street U.S.A. from the rest of the park before “rope drop” when the park officially opens at 8 a.m. (Park hours vary, but you can count on Main Street opening 30 minutes before the rest of the park.)

As long as I was in the right spot, I figured I’d be good. I woke up before dawn. I got to Anaheim. I parked at my secret spot. I got through the gates. I got to the ropes. And that’s when I saw them: hordes of guests walking past the ropes, who all had early park entry because they were staying on property at one of the resort hotels.

“It’s never going to happen,” I thought to myself. “Someone already got to the ride. I rope dropped today for nothing.”

But I was in the park already, so I figured I’d make the most of it. I stood by the ropes, getting ready to start the day, when it occurred to me. “Wait,” I thought. “Some rides don’t open early.” It turns out, Storybook Land Canal Boats is one of those. I still had a chance.

So after the announcement welcoming guests to the park, and the formal dropping of the ropes, I made a beeline for the ride, up the most direct path, between the Matterhorn and Mad Tea Party.

There were so many people around me that I thought I was done for — but as I veered left to the boats, everyone else kept walking straight ahead toward “it’s a small world.” They were all trying to rope drop Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the newest ride in the park. My path was clear. I was at the boats at 8:03 a.m. with only one woman ahead of me. As the cast member opened the ride queue, that other woman stepped to the side. She was waiting for her family, she said. They weren’t there yet. She was happy to let me be the first of the day.

Never let anyone tell you that Disney magic isn’t real.

As I walked the queue, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

“Would you like to sign the book?” a cast member asked, an enormous binder open in her hands. The pages were purple, designed in the colors of this year’s Disney100 celebration. Mine was the last spot at the very bottom. Judging simply from their signatures, it looked like one day, an older couple had signed the book. Another day, three young kids from one family. One more, in celebration of someone’s fifth birthday.

As I signed, all thoughts disappeared of how silly and ultimately meaningless this victory was. It was a little thing, but it made a big difference in my day, which, when you think about it, is really what the whole place is about.
 
Attractions Referenced

Canal Boats Of The World

It's A Small World

Mad Tea Party

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Storybook Land Canal Boats

 
Lands Referenced

Fantasyland

Main Street U.S.A.

 
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