Storybook Circus' Disney Character Calvacadeby Jeff Kober, contributing writer
Dumbo, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and, even Pete, are easily referenced at Storybook Circus, but there are many other characters who create the setting for this new land at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
One of the really wonderful things about the New Fantasyland experience at the Magic Kingdom is that there are a number of little places that pay homage to Disney's heritage. Some of these (Dumbo, Goofy, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Little Mermaid) have been spotlighted before; today our focus is the dozens of references made throughout Storybook Circus.
Step off of the Walt Disney Train at the Fantasyland station and you're immediately introduced to the first of these references. The train station itself recalls the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which was the small backyard train Walt had placed in his backyard.
Around the train station you can see luggage and other props from a variety of Disney films. The Big Bad Wolf and Hyacinth Hippo of Fantasiafame is found here.
Pixar has not been left out of the picture. Here we have a reference to Red: A red unicycle ridden by a circus clown as part of a juggling act. So it's a perfect compliment to the atmosphere of Storybook Circus.
One of my favorite, and less-noted, Disney animated features was Melody Time. The film features several musical shorts strung together and includes my two favorite Disney folk heroes: Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill.
When the attraction first opened earlier this year, several barrels were found all referencing Dumbo. Prissy, Giddy and Cadddy are part of the gossipy team of elephants that shunned Dumbo and his mother. In John Grant's Encyclopedia of Disney Characters, they are named as Giggles and Catty, names that would be more in alignment with their behavior. Missing in these barrells is Matriarch, the somewhat larger, greyer, and deeper-voiced character.
Last on the luggage racks are these hat boxes from Ten Schillings and Sixpence Ltd. This references the number found on the brim of the Mad Hatter's hat.
The circus' fearless daredevil, the Great Goofini, invites all to participate in aerial acrobatics and bravery. Step through the entrance and you'll find a reference to what was formerly an occupant here at Storybook Circus.
Posters throughout the queue showcase many of Goofy's great stunts. There is a monkey in most of these. This one involves Tiger Juggling. I'm uncertain what the monkey specifically references to (anyone want to make a guess?), but I believe the tiger is fairly similar to Raja in the short Goliath II (1960), which featured a small 5 1/8 inch elephant the size of a mouse.
There are also a number of props around the queue, as well. I like the reference to another favorite Disney film, The Rocketeer.
At the load/disembark station sits a number of props. This very small sticker on the can sells Pedro Empresa Gasolina. Pedro has its origins in Saludos Amigos. Pedro the plane faces thunder and lightning as it soars high above the Anoncagua mountain range to deliver the mail.
Some of Goofy's favorite shorts were the "How To" series that ran over many years. This one celebrates one of my favorites: How to Water Ski.
Posters along Storybook Circus promote Disney characters from movies long ago. Here we again see Hyacinth Hippo ("The Ballerina of the Big Top") and Lambert ("The Man Eater"). Hyacinth is, of cours,e from Fantasia. Lambert, references Lambert, the Sheepish Lion who in 1952 had his own short. Lambert's story is similar to Dumbo or that of the Ugly Duckling, where he feels like he doesn't quite fit in with the sheep. But he proves himself when a wolf attacks the flock.
Did you know that the last original print of Lambert the Sheepish Lion was presented by Roy Disney to the Emperior Hirohito of Japan because he said that he enjoyed the film so much. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Here we have Humphrey the Unicycling Bear and Salty the Seal. Humphrey has references throughout Storybook Circus, especially in Big Top Treats. What's confusing is why he is on this poster instead of Bongo, the unicycling bear. Salty the Sea and His Symphony of the Seas references a Pluto short, where while Pluto is acting as a rescue dog, he comes upon Salty in the ice and snow. In the end Salty actually rescues Pluto.
Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station has become a new hit at Storybook Circus. The wagons in this area reference the opening of all four Walt Disney World parks.
But there are other wagons, as well. There are three wagons providing food and beverage options. Two I can guess.
The other is a wagon with a 13 on the side. That would place Walt at the age of 12. Not much happening at that time. Any guesses?
Near many of the wagons are tables and chairs. The table has a certain Pixar look to it. Can you guess?
Inside the yellow tent are some other tables with what appears to be upside-down pails serving as seats. The one on the left easily references Minnie Mouse. The one on the right references Ali Gator. Technically, it's a referene to Ben Ali Gator, the leader of the horde of 12 ballet-dancing alligators who accompany the elephants and hippos in Fantasia.
More pails reference Timothy the Mouse and the Three Little Pigs: Fiddler, Fifer and Practical.
Alas, the disappointing thing about the Three Little Pigs is that you don't see them here in Storybook Circus. They were referenced in the promo materials as being on top of the high wire above Big Top Souvenirs. But they havent' shown up yet. Hopefully soon.
We end at the entrance to Pete's Silly Side Show with a beautiful calliope. Again, it speaks of the Melody Time Brass Horn Band. But it also references Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, another short, that was released in 1953.
It's great that Imagineers celebrate these characters and their films, even though they were born a generation or two, or even three, after the films were first created. Disney has a remarkable heritage, and Storybook Circus stands unique as a place that celebrates even the smallest milestones of animation.