08 September 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: Most Famous Circus Train

Storybook Circus has a lot of fantastic details strewn about the land, considering it is one of the latest additions to the Magic Kingdom. There is name-checking luggage, subtle and no-so-subtle nods to Walt and the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, and even some musical cues and props to take note of. Some of the most interesting details, however, come from the various train cars and wagons that can be found throughout the land. We’ll start our numeric tour over at the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station.

This is a great little area for children to let off some steam, Casey Jr. certainly does! The monkeys, giraffes, and other circus creatures are all having a bath, or a holiday, or whatever cartoon animals do when there is a bunch of water around. Now, there’s a Jungle Cruise joke about water in here, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. What I’m really after are the numbers on the back of the train cars. Chronologically, they are: 71, 82, 89, and 98. We’ll keep this one simple; they’re the dates in which the four parks of Walt Disney World opened.

Now that we got the hang of the pattern, we can quickly puzzle out another one. Heading on over to the wagon serving up hot dogs, emblazoned with the number 55, an obvious stand in for the 1955 opening of Disneyland. The first park which saw the Dumbo, The Flying Elephant attraction take to the skies as an opening year attraction.

Next up, we’re going make our way over to the popcorn wagon, popcorn and the circus just go together, right? Its wagon number of 13, however, has thrown me for quite some time. While I can’t be 100% certain, my best guess is this relates to the dedication of the Storybook Circus area as a whole. It is my belief that the plan was for this land to be dedicated and officially opened in 2013, even though pieces of the land had come online much earlier than that. However, the land ended up being officially opened in December of 2012. Now, if someone has a better explanation of this number than I do, I would be happy to be proven wrong!

The last, but not insignificant wagon to be numbered in Storybook Circus is the number 34 pretzel wagon. We’re venturing back in the 1900s for this one and 1934 may not be a date that many readily recognize. It was actually a fairly busy year for Disney. It could be referencing Ward Kimball’s arrival to the company or the copyright of Mickey Mouse for books and comics, but we’re actually in Silly Symphony territory on this one. What short could tie in to the Dumbo theme of the area, you ask? How about a cartoon entitled The Flying Mouse that features a tale about a little mouse who saves a butterfly, a butterfly that is in fact a fairy, that is able to grant the mouse’s wish to fly? After being granted this great power, he finds he is reject by mice and bats alike and just wishes to be himself again, a wish the fairy butterfly is happy to bestow upon him.

The wonderful minds of Imagineers continue to find new ways to tuck away small details that pay homage to the history of all things Disney, big and small. Each new attraction, restaurant, or land is filled to the brim with these nods, some that are clear as day and others that require a bit of historical perspective or perhaps research, both of which can be seen in the numbering of the train cars and wagons of the Storybook Circus. It’s a great big Walt Disney World out there, and there are always more stories to uncover!

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