Thursday, February 23, 2012

Goodbye to the Scary, Hello to the Characters (Part 1)

Snow White takes the apple in the WDW's version. Photo from the Disney Wiki.
Sometime this spring, one of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World will be closing.  The fair-skinned heroine of the ride will not get her True Love's kiss and awaken, and the old hag has appeared to win.  That's right.  Snow White's Scary Adventures in Walt Disney World is closing this year, to be replaced by a meet-and-greet pavilion.

In honor of the ride, I'm going to do a two part blog post on the ride's history and the new construction that will take the ride with it. 

So "Part One: The History of the Scary."

Of course, Snow White started as the "fairest of them all" princess of the starring role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney's first animated feature film, released in 1937.  It was the movie that started them all; the little princess who opened the gates to Walt's imagination for the public.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was always relatively scary: the hag's transformation is still one of the creepiest scenes ever animated, and the evil Queen is considered on of the greatest villains of all time, having won 10th place in the AFI's list of greatest villains (she is considered the same with the hag).  The Disney Wiki's article on the movie says this: "Certain scenes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, particularly those featuring the Witch, are regarded as some of Disney's most frightening moments; British censors considered the film frightening enough for young viewers to have to be accompanied by an adult."

However, the ride would be even scarier.

Poster for Disneyland's version.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.
Snow White's Scary Adventures started as Snow White and her Adventures in Fantasyland, Disneyland (which is in California).  It is one of the few oldest rides, still operational after having opened in 1955 on Disneyland's opening day.  In this original version, the guests riding in the cars were Snow White; the ride was set up so that guests felt as if they were the main character.  Most guests didn't understand why the ride was set up this way or why Snow White didn't make an appearance.  So during the 1983 renovation of Fantasyland's rides, Snow White was added.  She now appears once in the ride currently.

All versions of the ride are a dark rides, meaning that is takes place in an enclosed space with special lighting, darkness being used to hide mechanicisms and to create effect (Wikipedia).

The ride didn't appear at Walt Disney World's own Fantasyland part of the Magic Kingdom until 1971.  This ride was much more intense and "arguably scarier" than the Disneyland version, and keep in mind that the changes to the Disneyland version didn't come until 12 years after Walt Disney World's version opened (The Disney Wiki).  Like in the Disneyland version, the guests took up the role of the main character, in this case, pretty little Snow White.

Once more, the Queen/Hag became the center stage character: Snow White didn't appear at all, and the Dwarfs appeared briefly once.  In contrast, the Queen appeared as the Hag seven times.

However, the two rides were very different other than their names and namesake.  The order of each ride's scenes were different than the other, and the endings were totally unalike: at Disneyland, the riders saw a book with the (typical) words "And they lived happily ever after" while at the end of the Disney World version, the riders entered a room of "flashing lights" after the Hag tried to push a giant jewel onto them (The Disney Wiki).
Figures receiving touch-ups for the WDW version. 
Photo from the Disney Wiki

In 1994, Snow White's Scary Adventures at Disney World was redesigned to be more like the one at Disneyland.  The scenes were changed and reordered, with a few new ones, and one of the Hag models was removed or something because the Hag's appearance went down to only six times.  Snow White also made an appearance now: in the courtyard cleaning and also in the Cottage.

"Fool them all!"
Photo from the Disney Wiki.
In 2008, this Disney Freak went to Walt Disney World with her best friend and was lucky enough to take a trip through Snow White's Scary Adventures.  Personally, my favorite part was probably the very beginning when the Queen stands in front of the Magic Mirror, speaking to it.  Then suddenly she spins around to face us and has transformed into the terrible old Hag!  She cackles with glee about how she'll "fool them all!"  My friend and I were definately not expecting that: funny, we didn't take the scary part of Snow White's Scary Adventures seriously.

And sadly, no, we did not see the Queen peering down at us from her window while we were boarding.  Next time I go...will there be a next time to ride?

The ride's last day of operation, according to a Disney Parks Blog post today, will be May 31 of this year.

Here's a video of the ride at Disney World taken as if you are seated in one of the ride seats.  Enjoy!

For a more in-depth look at the history of this ride, check out Kenneth's Sandburg's site: the whole entire section on Snow White's Scary Adventures is eleven parts long!

Part 2 of this two-part post will discuss the renovations coming to Fantasyland (WDW) this year (though I've already done one post on the upcoming changes next month), including what Snow White's Scary Adventures will become: a meet-and-greet pavilion.  Check back again soon for Part 2!

Comments: Please share anything you'd like, but I'd really enjoy it if people shared their memories of the ride.

And Snow White Sanctum, any comments?  I'm quite sure you are more of an expert on this!


I realize I said to keep an eye out of Part 2.  However, there is so much information out there about this new construction that it's a bit overwhelming for me to organize it all into a post.  Sorry about that.

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