How Walt’s Love of Horses Shaped the Disney Parks
Walt Disney was a man of many talents and interests. A skilled sketch artist, a craftsmen, and animal lover are just a few words that could be used to describe his wide array of interests. He combined his skillset and passions to create The Walt Disney Company and ultimately the Disney Parks that we all know and love to this day.
But believe it or not, Walt Disney’s love of everything equestrian had a huge impact on the Parks, and continue to influence Walt Disney World and the Disney Parks around the world to this day! Let’s just say, they would be VERY different places without Walt’s dedication to including horses into the Theme Parks!
On opening day at Disneyland, Walt delivered a heartfelt speech that officially opened the most iconic Theme Park in history. True to form, Walt had all of his favorite things around him. His beloved animated characters were featured in attractions, futuristic design elements were on display in Tomorrowland, and a horse-drawn trolley ride was featured as one of the opening day attractions!
To this day, guests can take a horse-drawn trolley ride down Main Street USA in Disneyland! The horse-drawn trolley rides harken back to times of olde-when horses were the main source of transportation.
The fact that the horse-drawn trolley rides are still a part of Disneyland to this day solidifies Disney’s commitment to immersion and the preservation of Main Street USA as a frozen piece in history!
Walt Disney World
Here at Walt Disney World Resort, horses are just as involved as making magic as they are in Disneyland! Both the ‘Boo to You’ Parade and ‘Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade’ feature some equestrian star power.
My favorite moment during the Halloween Parade is when the lights dim, the music cuts, and all you can hear are the distant yet distinct ‘clip clop’ of horseshoes quickly approaching….and the Headless Horseman appears!
Right now, you can see the horses in a whole new way! Featured in both Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you can catch some of Disney’s famed horses in the character cavalcades!
Tri-Circle D Ranch
Here at Walt Disney World, you have the chance not only to see the horses leading parades and cavalcades, but you can get up close and personal with them in their home at Fort Wilderness!
Tri-Circle D Ranch is open daily to visitors until 3pm, and it’s one of my favorite Resort activities to partake in whenever I visit. On my most recent visit, I had the chance to meet (and pet!) Grady- one of the gorgeous white steeds responsible for pulling Anna and Elsa through Epcot. You never know who you might meet at the Ranch!
Horseback and Pony Rides
At Fort Wilderness, you can even go so far as to take a guided trail ride on horseback! This is a great experience as you get to feel what it’s like to be in control of a real horse while seeing the Campsite grounds from a whole new perspective.
Pictured below is another of my new horse pals. When I visited, he was training to be one of the ponies that provides rides to younger guests! These horses are trained by extremely knowledgeable Cast Members who really get to know their personalities and therefore how best to structure each horse’s training schedule. He was such a good boy after his training lap that I even got to pet him!
At Tri-Circle D Ranch, there is an entire room dedicated to Walt Disney’s love of horses.
Without that passion, the many beloved experiences highlighted above would never have come to be, and the Disney Parks would not feature any of the high-stepping friends we have come to love over the years.
What is your favorite way to encounter the Disney horses? Do you like watching them in the Parades? Or would you prefer to get up close and personal and go for a horseback ride of your own?