Alice in Wonderland (Disneyland attraction)
|Alice in Wonderland|
|Opening date||June 14, 1958|
|Attraction type||Dark ride|
|Theme||Alice in Wonderland|
Must transfer from wheelchair
Alice in Wonderland is a dark ride in Fantasyland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Based on the animated Disney adaptation of the same name, the attraction resides next to a second ride, the Mad Tea Party, based on a scene in that same adaptation. The presence of two rides based on the film is unusual in that Walt Disney said he regretted making it because it lacked a connection to the audience's hearts.
Original plans for Disneyland show that there was to be an "Alice in Wonderland" walk-through attraction in 1955, but time and budgetary restrictions forced planners to defer the attraction and the designated space was instead occupied by the Fantasyland Theater (now the location of "Pinocchio's Daring Journey"). Three years later (1958), an "Alice in Wonderland" ride-through opened, with Mouseketeer Karen Pendleton dressed as Alice appearing at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Now located on the north end of the building occupied by "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," "Alice in Wonderland" differed from other Fantasyland dark rides which appeared as openings in flat, faux-stone walls (the extended arms of Sleeping Beauty's Castle) and decorated with colorful banners and canopies made of sheet metal. Instead, "Alice in Wonderland" featured a stylized, oversized garden of towering blades of grass, dandelions and a tall mushroom that served as the attraction's ticket booth. The caterpillar ride vehicles moved gracefully along a winding path of massive leaves, helping create the illusion that guests had shrunk to a tiny size, thus imitating Alice's experiences in Wonderland. This attraction also differed by the vehicles negotiating a path that involved both upward and downward inclines, necessitating three wheels instead of four.
The 1958 version of the ride, with sets adapted from the animated feature by Imagineer Claude Coats, had little in common with Lewis Carroll's source books. Instead it used various environments suggested by the film to create loud, garish, and somewhat nightmarish scenes reminiscent of some of Fantasyland's other dark rides (such as "Pinocchio's Daring Journey", "Snow White's Scary Adventures", and "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"), and the portable dark rides found in traveling fairs and carnivals. Sets, figures, and effects were considerably less sophisticated than the version that replaced it in 1984. Guests climbed aboard their caterpillar-themed vehicle and plunged down a dark rabbit-hole, into the Upside Down Room (a wholly original scene not found in the film), followed by the Oversize Room, where, as guests approached a doorway painted to look like a huge keyhole, Cheshire Cat figures appeared, laughing maniacally. (These figures were not dimensional but merely painted plywood cutouts.) Then followed the Garden of Live Flowers and Tulgey Wood scenes. Next guests found themselves on the table of the Mad Tea Party, ostensibly shrunk in size as the oversized scenery dwarfed the ride vehicle. Then a series of strobe flashes imitated the fireworks of the film's exploding unbirthday cake, accompanied by harsh yelling voices, and a series of nonsensical signposts which led the guests outside to the winding leaf track that ended the ride. This primitive, unsatisfying version remained open for twenty-five years.
In 1983, the ride was updated as part of an overall refurbishment of Fantasyland, as the Upside-Down and Oversized Rooms were eliminated and the Mad Hatter's unbirthday scene was moved to the very end of the ride. A new narration track by Kathryn Beaumont, the original voice of Alice, was recorded. To create more unified theming in Fantasyland, the Mad Tea Party attraction was relocated at the rear of Fantasyland to a spot adjacent to the Alice in Wonderland ride that same year. The Alice in Wonderland, however, did not reopen until 1984, one year after the rest of the new Fantasyland opened.
The ride was temporarily closed on July 15, 2010 after California's Department of Occupational Safety and Health pointed out that it lacked handrails on the second floor, exterior track portion of the ride. The ride re-opened with temporary safety rails on August 13, 2010. The permanent design was implemented in 2014.
On March 10, 2014, the ride closed for an extended refurbishment. In addition to regular maintenance, changes were made to the attraction's exterior. Walt Disney Imagineering also did some work on the ride's interior. The attraction officially reopened on July 4, 2014 with several enhancements; many scenes were updated with digitally projected images and effects (some of which include footage taken from the film, as well as some new animation), the Cheshire Cat figures received new special effects, and new figures of Alice were added to the Tulgey Wood and Mad Tea Party scenes. In addition, the second story exterior track path was widened and themed safety railings were added to the left (vehicle opening) side of the path.
Guests ride in caterpillar vehicles down the rabbit hole. Pieces of furniture, picture frames, and vases swirl around as guests "fall" down the tunnel. As guests enter through the Doorknob, they see the White Rabbit running off with Alice in pursuit. Guests then pass by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and encounter the White Rabbit, worrying about being late. Then the guests go through the garden of flowers, who sing "All in the Golden Afternoon". Riders then pass the Caterpillar, who blows smoky letters and asks "Who are you?" and a Dandelion, who pops up, roaring, thinking that Alice and the riders are weeds. Next, guests enter the Tulgey Wood, where they and Alice meet the Cheshire Cat, as well as a pencil bird, an accordion owl, an eyeglasses bird, a horn-shaped duck with its ducklings, an umbrella bird, a cage bird, and a pair of hammer birds nailing a sign to a tree. They then go through the hedge maze and past some singing playing-cards who are painting a white rose tree red, splashing nearby bushes with paint. The White Rabbit announces the Queen of Hearts (and the king) and she plays croquet, using a flamingo as a club and a hedgehog as a ball. The King tells the riders: "Rule 42: The Queen always wins," and the hedgehog ends up rolling into a rose tree. The guests then enter the Queen's courtroom and the Queen orders their execution while a brigade of playing-cards leap towards the guests. Riders escape by pushing their way through the courtroom doors past two guards poised to attack. The vehicles then leave the ride building's second floor and descend in a winding path on a giant vine past the ride queue, before heading to the final scene at the Mad Tea Party. After the Mad Hatter and March Hare sing "A Very Merry UnBirthday", Alice proclaims that it's her unbirthday too. The White Rabbit ducks as a giant unbirthday cake with a dynamite candle explodes and the ride vehicles exit back to where they began.
- Alice - Kathryn Beaumont
- The White Rabbit/Cards - Corey Burton
- Ace of Clubs - Thurl Ravenscroft
- Cheshire Cat/King of Hearts - Tony Pope
- Queen of Hearts - Tress MacNeille
- Martín, Hugo (July 22, 2010). "Disneyland's Alice in Wonderland ride closed to install safety equipment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- New wonders added to Alice in Wonderland dark ride as Disneyland enhances classic attraction InsidetheMagic.net, Retrieved July 4, 2014
- Gurr, Bob (27 November 2013). "DESIGN: Those Were The Times – No.23 1955 Arrow Development – Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon". MiceChat. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
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