Thursday, April 10, 2008

STOP THE PRESSES!



For years, I had heard/read that the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle drawbridge was only lowered two times...on opening day and then at the Fantasyland rededication; my photo from July 18, 1955 disproved that one. Today, I had an email from a reader who sent this photo of Snow White from the Snow White Dark Ride, circa August 1972. What makes it so amazing is that everything I have read about this Dark Ride claims that there was no Snow White figure until after the 1983 Fantasyland remodel, and that previously guests were confused because there was no trace of dear Snow on the ride at all. Warren (my new best friend) also says that he remembers this figure being located in a turn right before the Evil Queen’s dungeon. Tomorrow I will return to the 1956 series, unless someone happens upon a photo from the Sleeping Beauty walk-through or an interior shot of Mineral Hall. Anyone...anyone...

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20 comments:

Chris Merritt said...

Hi Dave -

So my assumption (and I could be wrong here) is that your reader took a snapshot from Walt Disney World, not Disneyland. However, everything I have read about Florida's SW attraction is that the intent was also to have you assume the role of Snow White, and that she too was absent from this version - so let me do some digging!

Major Pepperidge said...

MUY MYSTERIOSO! I was going to suggest that this was from Florida, but Chris' comment put that one to rest. It's hard to tell, but maybe she is standing in the "scary forest" (although her expression is pretty bland).

I hope somebody can solve this one!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Clueless here... But is she pointing at us? Or ready to grab the apple?

Davelandweb said...

My first thought was Disney World in Florida, too, but this guys lives in California and I would think he'd know the difference between the two. He also has other photos from the same trip that he is going to send, so that should help as well. Updates to come...

Biblioadonis aka George said...

Creepy...

It looks like she wants to pinch me.

Which might be kinda fun!

;)

Rob Fendler said...

That Snow White was probably the scariest part of the whole ride! Whats with the discombobulated eyes?

Chris Merritt said...

Well - Dave followed up with more evidence - I'm convinced this is California now... Very odd! I will have to ask a few of the "old timers" here if they remember her addition or who may have done it. Nice work!

hauntedone999 said...

The photo is most definatly from WDW. I have seen the original ride layout from the Disney archives and there was no Snow White till 1983... in fact 3 dimensional figures were pretty non existent in the dark rides till the fatasyland rehab. Alot fo people get the parks mixed up just like how everyone always argues with me about the hall of presidents being in the opera house, or the tiki room actually being a restaurant.

Davelandweb said...

Sorry haunted, you are most definitely wrong on this one; the guy never went to WDW until 1979, and this slide is stamped 1972; I have also seen other slides from this batch, and he was at Disneyland. Snow White also had plenty of 3 dimensional figures, most notably the dwarves, even before the 1983 rehab.

Chris Merritt said...

Even a lot of the trees in the 1955 version of Snow White were dimensional, as were the original dwarves... Here's a good photo of that from a vintage postcard:

http://sorcerersworkshop.org/images/postcards/postcard_fldwarfscrop_dlpc.jpg

Chris Merritt said...

Damn blogger and their cutting off of links!

Paste this: http://sorcerersworkshop.org/images

then this: /postcards/postcard_fldwarfscrop_dlpc.jpg

Jeez Blogger - please fix this!

FoxxFur said...

It's most assuredly not the Florida version; I rode it a few times before it was refurbished and despite having strange furniture, a zillion witches, a mine cart loaded with diamonds determined to run you over and a nihilistic ending where the evil witch kills you with a falling diamond, it didn't have a Snow White figure.

It's possible that this figure was added later on in the ride's history. There's two areas in the Disneyland original this could've been: before you go into the Witch's castle after passing the dwarfs' cottage or in the haunted forest scene. Whatever it was, she looks surprisingly good, doesn't she? Clearly just a dressed up mannequin but the costume is well done.

Progressland said...

On page 51 of The Nickel Tour, we find: "Inside [Fantasyland], the designers were already becoming aware of a serious conceptual problem. In a memo written to Joe Fowler on August 12, 1955--less than a month after the Park opened--George Whitney (who had now become manager of Fantasyland) expressed concern that guests coming out of the dark rides were 'confused at not seeing Snow White, Peter Pan, or Mr. Toad.'

"Remember, the designers meant for the guests to be the stars of the show--as you rode through the show, you were Snow White, you were Peter Pan, you were Mr. Toad. But George knew this concept was a pretty obscure one for the already overwhelmed Disneyland audience to pick up on. 'Since it is almost impossible to convey this thought properly to the people,' he continued, 'it might be best to put an animated Peter Pan or appropriate character in these rides.'

"George had sensed the problem quickly, but it would be more than thirty years before a solution was found."

And on page 315, we find this: "In 1973, Tony Baxter and Brock Thoman took it upon themselves to re-think the original Fantasyland at Disneyland. Tony came up with a whole new show, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, while Brock set out to recreate Snow White's Adventures....

"And so, under Brock's tutelage, Snow White's adventures would become Snow Whites [sic] scary adventures. And, even more radically, Snow White herself would actually appear in this version of the attraction. This addition would eliminate some confusion that dated back to 1955 when the designers tried to convince the guests that they were Snow White. The guests were never convinced."

My point for quoting so much is that there are several points of confusion here. Whitney's memo indicates that in 1955, at least, there were no main characters in the Fantasyland dark rides. Later, in the 1970s, they seriously considered adding them (or actually did so).

Bruce Gordon worked on the New Fantasyland project and surely Tony Baxter read through this portion of the book before publication. Wouldn't they have noticed if there were character figures when they were ripping out the attraction??

Though the attraction's name didn't officially become Snow White's Scary Adventures until 1983, it did become known as Snow White's Adventures (scary) in guidebooks circa 1973--coincidentally the date given in The Nickel Tour for the redesign of Snow White's Adventures. Is it possible that Brock's recollections were actually about a change made at that time and mistakenly attributed to the New Fantasyland of 1983?

Another piece of information that might or might not be relevant here: One of the reasons that "scary" was added to the attraction description was complaints from an Orange County organization (quoting a friend) "regarding the 'supernatural' and 'terrifying' aspects" of the attraction. Is it possible the figure was added around the same time, as an attempt to make the attraction less terrifying?

I realize that the photo is circa 1972 and that these events above are later, but they're all suspiciously grouped in the early 1970s!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Fascinating “Stop the Presses” mystery!

I can confirm the “(scary)” part being added to the “C” ticket in 1973.

Great info everyone!

Davelandweb said...

Progressland - To piggyback on your story...in a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book, Disney describes the Swiss Family Robinson Tree as being 60' tall; in the very next sentence they refer to it as 80' tall with 40' roots. Go figure...thanks to all for the great additional info!

Progressland said...

Additional info from my friend Huck, who worked at the Park in the 1970s:

"My recollection is that there was a July '72 rehab which introduced a Snow White figure just before the Queen's dungeon business (complete with strung sash-cord which grabbed more than a few pair of glasses!). Right around that time (or early the next year) "scary" was added to the attraction's name."

Chris Merritt said...

That's what I was waiting for - a recollection by someone who was there. another myth debunked!

How is Huck, anyway?

Progressland said...

Oh, now he tells me he didn't get enough sleep and this is more correct: "The SW rehab was in June (not July) of 1972. They used to do the dark rides right before summer and Snow White was always the last one (for some strange reason)."

Chris - busy! (from what I can gather)

Anonymous said...

I can assure you all that this photo is definitely NOT from WDW. I have never been to Disneyland, only WDW, as I live in Florida and have been going since 1972...Snow White was NEVER present anywhere in the ride until they refurbished it(and ruined it, in my opinion) in the 90's. I really miss the original version where you were experiencing the scary adventures through Snow White's POV. The ride as it stands now, is really bad and nowhere as fun or scary as the original version. One more attraction that Disney execs have desecrated and ruined.

Kenneth Sundberg said...

Somewhat fascinating is that this Snow POSES almost exactly the same way as her '83 & '94 counterparts in the dark rides. In DL, TDL and DLRP dark rides she holds a candle in her outstretched, left hand while holding her dress with her right hand. The '94 WDW version Snow (inside the ride) has undoubtedly been created using the same mold, but an apple replacing the candle (and with slight changes made to her facial features). -- So I find it definitely both odd and fascinating that this Snow has an mirror image of the same pose, with her right hand outstretched (and holding a bird) and left hand holding the dress. However, these rags on Snow (with ripped sleeve?) don't impress me much. I prefer the 1983 "statue" version more...

Real or not, it was a good thing this curious Snow surfaced and attracted some long-time sleeping beauties. Thanks to Warren and Dave!

-KEN-