Disneyland’s Horses Relax, Get Trained At Their New 5 1/4-Acre Circle D Ranch

When the equines on the front of the Horse-Drawn Streetcars finish their three to four days a week working at Disneyland, they get to go home to their new digs in Norco.

“It’s big and comfortable here. The horses love it,” said Jennifer Gable, stage manager at the ranch.

Audrey Zamorano, a stable attendant at the Disney-owned Circle D Ranch in Norco, leads a horse, while other attendants follow, back into the barn after spending a few hours in the turnout corral just “horsing” around. Unless there is inclement weather, or it is too hot, the horses at the Circle D spend 2-3 hours a day in the corral. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Circle D Ranch, as it is called, was in the northwest section of Disneyland’s backstage (what Disneyland calls areas its visitors cannot see), behind the berm that hid it from view. But plans called for using that space as part of the new 14-acre “Star Wars” land now under construction.

After a two-year search, a 5 1/4 acre property was found in Norco suitable for Disney’s and the horses’ needs. The property was purchased from a trust owned by the DeRuyter family. It was a chicken egg ranch and a Christmas Tree farm in its history. It included the house, which has been converted into offices for the ranch hands.

The new ranch, that opened in June 2017, is bigger than the old one by nearly 2 acres, giving the horses and trainers plenty of room.

“Each horse gets its own private stall in our new barn, including their own private outdoor section,” Gable said.

Alexis Cole, a stable attendant, stands with Lucky, one of the 18 horses the Disneyland Resort currently owns and uses at Disneyland to pull its horse-drawn streetcars on Main Street U.S.A. and for other special events such as parades. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The barn has 20 stalls, room for more horses, as Disneyland owns 18 horses. Besides the stalls, there is a harness room – where each horse’s harness hangs when not in use at the ranch or at Disneyland on the Streetcars.

“The harnesses are individually fitted to each horse,” Gable said.

The harness room also holds harnesses used for weddings, or for pulling other wagons at special events like parades in Norco. One of those wagons is the original, now restored, Stagecoach used in the original attraction of the same name at the park in the 1950s.

While at the ranch, and at Disneyland, their diet is carefully controlled. They get two different types of hay and a variety of grains. They are fed through a device that makes the horses eat as if they’re in the field, and cannot just gorge themselves.

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Disneyland’s Horses Relax, Get Trained At Their New 5 1/4-Acre Circle D Ranch

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