Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romance at Disneyland

Happy Valentines to all, and for those who bah-humbug this "holiday," there's plenty of Daveland cynicism in this particular column to keep things from getting too sugary. I was searching my brain, trying to come up with something that was related to Valentine's Day, and it got me thinking about how romance was portrayed in Disney animated films as well as the park. It is interesting that in the majority of Disney films made during Walt's lifetime, the focus is on women; if these women had a man or romantic interest in their life, he was pretty much the equivalent of cardboard. It wasn't until "Sleeping Beauty" was released that the leading man and apple of the heroine's art was given any kind of dimension. "Snow White" (1937) gave us a heroine who fell in love with a prince upon first sight. After their initial duet, the prince disappeared and left Snow to battle her evil stepmother all by herself. The dork didn't show up again until the final moments, just in time to kiss her out of a coma and ride off into the sunset. Yup...his character was good looking but flat as a pancake. True to form, the attraction that bears her name has absolutely nothing to do with the prince until your mine cart leaves the dark part of the ride and emerges upon two murals, one proclaiming "They lived happily ever after." Who are "they"? I didn't see any prince on the ride? But...there he is, looking great but doing nothing on the final mural. Where'd he come from?


The other dark-ride attractions have zilch in the romance department; although the Blue Fairy in "Pinocchio" (1940) is kinda' va-va-voom, she was only in the movie to lend a little support and help...but no romance. Naturally, the dark ride is devoid of romance as well. The animated film "Cinderella" (1950) is not represented at Disneyland with an attraction, but her lover was not much more than a Ken doll either. It is ironic that "Alice in Wonderland" (1951), a film that Walt himself said (of the heroine) "lacked heart" inspired not one but TWO attractions...but again, no romance. She was too young for any shenanigans of the heart, so she stuck to a bunch of goofy characters instead. And what about those teacups...they may give you palpitations, but not of the romantic sort. They're more likely to stir up your stomach instead.

"Peter Pan" (1953) tells the touching story of how Wendy romanticizes Peter, but she is still on the verge of adolescence. Their relationship never really goes much beyond flirtation and friendship. Finally, with the 1959 release of "Sleeping Beauty," both male and female leads were fleshed out and shown to be multi-dimensional characters. In fact, Prince Phillip probably has more screen time than Aurora, who spends much of the film in peaceful slumber. Rather than leave the dirty work to a few dwarves, Phillip goes after the evil villain and saves the Prince himself. With the restoration of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Dioramas, true love is once again able to be seen at Disneyland. We are able to see Phillip fighting through the thorns to reach his Sleeping Beauty, Aurora.

And in a scene destined to make little boys everywhere go "yuck," you can actually see Aurora and Phillip kiss:

Naturally, we can't forget Mickey and Minnie. Although they are seldom in Fantasyland, you can often catch them in Town Square and waving to guests in the daily parades:

So Happy Valentine's Day again...hope you all are able to get a little lovin' in today! See more Disneyland photos at my website.


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Happy Valentines Day! Love your posts, love going down memory lane, especially since Disney's changed so much since when I was a kid in the 60's and 70's. It's just not the same anymore.

Heidi Ann said...

Ah, but there can be romance at Disneyland! I got engaged while riding on It's A Small World many years ago - once upon a time.

Learning Spanish at 41 said...

Sleeping Beauty has always been my fave--I say it's the art but maybe it was due to a strong hero. Under appreciated film by far. Happy Valentine's Day, Dave!

TokyoMagic! said...

I always thought it was strange that the last scene in the Snow White attraction was of the Witch attempting to crush the Dwarfs with a large boulder, followed by a sign that says "And they live happily ever after." But then I also thought it was strange that Pinocchio is still a wooden puppet and not a real boy at the end of his attraction.

The Snow White attractions in WDW and DL Paris have additional scenes for their finales that Anaheim does not. These include the prince bending over to kiss Snow White and a scene with him leading her away on horseback to his castle.

Great Valentine's Day post, Dave!