Monday, February 01, 2021

Fear and Snow White

I was very excited to acquire this 1956 vintage image of the Snow White and Her Adventures entrance area. Zooming in you can see the original mural that adorned the queue area:

Where the Pinocchio dark ride now resides, you could have gotten a Welch’s Grape Juice beverage to cool off with during those hot Anaheim summer days!

The name Snow White’s Scary Adventure did not get used at Disneyland until the 1983 remodel. Apparently the Imagineers felt that the little tykes needed a warning about the scary portions of the attraction that included the Old Crone. Recently, Imagineers felt it necessary to remove the scare all together by tinkering with the attraction and changing the final scene to a happy ending. From the Disney Parks Blog:

This classic Fantasyland attraction, Disneyland park’s only ride-through princess attraction, will be updated with new magic inside and out in 2020. Walt Disney Imagineering is reimagining how the classic tale of Snow White lives happily ever after, and guests will be invited to follow along with her story.

One reader left this comment:

Hope they’ll just lengthen the ride for the new scenes in place of the “and they lived happily ever after” murals and still leave all the existing scenes in tact.

To quote Burgess Meredith from “Grumpy Old Men”:

Since the Park is still closed, it’s not really known exactly how much of the scare has been removed. Let’s take a look at some of the elements that could be under the chopping block, beginning with the Evil Queen peering out over guests from the exterior (much more menacing at night!):

The Evil Queen doing a Peeping Tom act at the Dwarf’s Cottage as the seven little men celebrate with Snow:

The transformation scene of the Evil Queen turning into the Old Crone:

Will this hanging skeleton be allowed to remain?

The Old Crone creating the poison apple:

The Old Crone and her apples sailing off to the Dwarf’s cottage:

The Old Crone and a hologram apple, appearing from inside the Dwarf’s cottage:

The original finale of the Dwarfs attempting to capture the Old Crone as she escapes:

The Old Crone attempts to kill the Dwarfs with a boulder:

…which ends up killing her when a bolt of lightning hits the rocks:

Bye bye Old Crone!

From the way the changes have been positioned, it sounds like much of the ride has been softened. This really makes me sad. I know as a kid I secretly LOVED being scared! What would “The Wizard of Oz” have been without the Wicked Witch? BORING! 

The original “Willy Wonka” movie would have been a snoozer without Gene Wilder’s crazy and sometimes menacing portrayal.

Wilder himself said he only accepted the role because he was allowed to make the viewer feel uncertain if the Wonka character was trustworthy or not, starting off with his entrance scene where he pretends to limp. Even his final scene where he loses his s$%t with Charlie…BRILLIANT! Let’s face it…kids love to be scared. Why oh why does Disney feel the need to protect the kiddies by removing the very thing that they love?

I know I know…Lowest Common Dumb-nominator.

See more Disneyland Snow White attraction photos at my main website.


Stefano said...

I second these emotions, Dave; and so does Bruno Bettelheim in his book "The Uses of Enchantment". Scary fairy tales are good for children because, having mastered fear in this controlled form, they are better prepared for the real and unexpected frights encountered in years to come.

There is a story that the seats at Radio City Music Hall had to be reupholstered after "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" finished its run there in 1938, since so many kiddies lost their bladders during the intense scenes. It is recorded somewhere that, during Disneyland's early years, the number one complaint received at City Hall was from parents whose kids had been terrified by that first version of Snow White's Adventures. Disney's sensible reply was that youngsters should learn that life can be scary!

The 1983 revamp of the attraction unfortunately was already a dilution of the potent original. What kid who experienced the 1955 edition could forget riding in total darkness, when a flash of lightening revealed a chained, writhing skeleton? Before this shock had fully registered, the car had turned a corner and there was the witch's giant shadow leaning over the cauldron, accompanied by her raspy, whooping cackle! Yowzah!!!

Fifthrider said...

Agreed as always. I used to disregard conspiracy theories until they started looking more real every day. It's a general dumbing down of society, teaching kids to come to an authority figure, not learn how to handle problems on their own. I'm probably outside the topic on that one, but removing the "scary" doesn't make it better, only blander. The future is telling kids they're always right regardless what they do or think. The past wasn't perfect, but it was better. I swam in the Bay Lake Lagoon in '73 when there were alligators much larger than me, played with lawn darts and BB guns, and always seemed to find fireworks despite my parents best efforts. Those things taught me caution more than fear. ( For the record, I do none of those today )

I didn't know that bit about Snow White and the seats having to be reupholstered ( eww.. ) but do recall that Pinocchio's colors were so vibrant they were scary and had to be toned down. ( Rumor, unconfirmed ) I wish them well but at least they're still keeping the attraction as Snow White. In today's culture it's likely that a thin percentage of people will be offended at the word "white" and demand the attraction be replaced.

Irene said...

In 1955 I was 6 going on 7 when we first visited Disneyland. I really don't know what was wrong with me, but I was a scared little girl. I was scared of many things including the dark (I slept with a night light for many years), enclosed places, and my mother vanishing (!). So needless to say, apparently the Snow White ride terrified me. This was according to my mother who refused to let me ride it again. I really have no memory of it unfortunately. Thank goodness I outgrew all that!!!! :) (and I also raised my daughter not to be a little scaredy cat)

Anonymous said...

I must have ridden the old version 15-20 times in my youth and do not recall being scared by it at all. Maybe I'm the exception.

Neither of my kids had fears of that type either, nor were they scared by anything they saw at Disneyland, or other parks. My Mom would not ride the bobsleds, the teacups, or the barrel bridge, but I think that was more motion sickness than actual fear.

I've read about the revised version and it doesn't sound so bad. Recent changes to other attractions haven't been as bad as they were hyped to be, in my opinion at least. I'll hold out hope that it won't be awful.

Thanks for the exhaustive post, Dave. It's good to see the old mural again.