February 11, 2016

Design Detail: Snow White's Scary Adventures

Walt Disney had to make concessions to get Disneyland opened on time and within budget. Tomorrowland took a hit and was covered with banners and flags. Frontierland and Adventureland were relatively complete as was Main Street U.S.A.  

Adults and kids alike loved Fantasyland, but little did park guests know Walt really wanted a different style for the area. Instead of a medieval looking castle courtyard, his heart was really set on taking visitors into the European villages that inspired so many of his animated films. This area would find new additions, but the overall look would stay the same for over 25 years.

When Disneyland's lovely New Fantasyland eventually made its debut in 1983, everything seemed to be totally redone, It's a Small World aside. Putting the great Imagineer Tony Baxter in charge of a remodel this large was not quite a risk. I mean, the guy had totally just nailed it with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. His star was on the rise.

The re-Imagineering of Fantasyland meant the exterior buildings took on a new charm as Walt's original vision was realized. The interiors of the dark rides were changed as well. As a special incentive to visit, a new dark ride Pinocchio's Daring Adventures opened as well.

It had long been an issue for Disney and the little kids that Snow White's Adventures was scarier than what guests would grasp while waiting in line. The new exterior took care of that! With the change, the "scary" part was added to the title but the building itself communicated this attraction wasn't focused on the cute Seven Dwarfs.

Entering the queue, guests notice the evil Queen peering out through the curtains of the turret window above. The pathways takes guests deeper and deeper into the darkness until its time to board the ride vehicle. Then the real scary fun begins.

That Disney Imagineers would place this much detail into the exterior of a smaller scale attraction tells us much about the show standards of the past and what differentiated Disney from its competitors- a place that kept them the leader in themed entertainment until Harry Potter arrived at Universal that is.

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)


Len said...

I have a greater appreciation of this ride now....great article Mark!

Mark Taft said...

Thanks. The outside is perfectly done. The inside is not bad either, but not nearly as detailed as far as I am concerned.