One of Walt Disney’s original rides at Disneyland, when it opened on July 17, 1955, was “Snow White and Her Adventures.” Guests boarded a “mine cart,” which took them on a journey through the mine of the seven dwarfs and into a scary encounter with the evil witch.
How scary? The sign outside of the ride warned: “Beware of the wicked witch! This attraction contains scenes in which the witch appears. Small children may be frightened.”
Did You Know?
When the Snow White ride originally opened, you didn’t see Snow White.
That’s because Walt’s concept was that you were experiencing the story through her eyes.
Walt Disney’s basic philosophy of ride development calls for rides to be updatable and upgradable. This has resulted in several iterations of the Snow White ride over the years. Some changes were minor, and some, like “Snow White’s Scary Adventures,” were major. Completed in the early 1980s after a two-year closure, “Scary Adventures” added track and all-new scenes.
On January 7, 2020, “Snow White’s Scary Adventures” was closed to undergo another major transformation. The ride was imbued with a more enchanting and cheerful vibe.
Kim Irvine, Disneyland Resort creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, stated in a press release:
“The Snow White attraction has such a rich history. We wanted to take into account the beautiful scenic work that has always existed and retell the story in a special way. We believe guests will enjoy this sweet storyline in a stunning experience.”
Disney noted the following enhancements to the ride:
- State-of-the-art audio and visual technology inside the attraction is enhanced with new music, LED black lighting, new laser projections and a new animation system.
- More than 50 new animal and figure sculpts have been added throughout the attraction.
- The newly named attraction blends fresh and familiar details, including new recordings in the queue voiced by the dwarfs Happy and Grumpy in English and Spanish, respectively.
- Boarding a mine cart, guests travel through some new scenes of this classic fairytale, beginning with the dwarfs’ cozy cottage. Snow White twirls and dances with Dopey and the scent of Doc’s handiwork – a baking apple pie – wafts through the air.
- Vibrant new shadow projections bring to life the dwarfs as they march happily off to work in the mine singing “Heigh Ho.”
- The dazzling mine scene sparkles with shimmering lighting effects and glittering jewels. Guests can be on the lookout for Doc examining a jewel, Grumpy hoisting a pick, and Dopey grinning from a jewel-filled mine cart.
- The den of the Evil Queen is surrounded by a library of spell books, a glowing cauldron and flasks bubbling with colorful potions, hints of how she concocted the poison apple.
- Snow White’s enchanted wish comes true at last as she is awakened from her deep sleep by love’s first kiss, from her Prince. She reunites with her animal friends and joyfully rides off with her Prince toward a golden castle for her “happily ever after.”
- The attraction’s brick façade is now painted in warmer pinks, lighter blues and gold colors to complement Sleeping Beauty Castle. In keeping with the architectural style of a European village, the exterior is bright and welcoming, with ornamental birds, butterflies and blooming flowers.
- Guests still may see the Evil Queen spying on those below from a window above the entrance.
- Snow White was Walt Disney’s original princess, debuting in the 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which was Walt Disney’s first full-length animated feature. This attraction remains the only ride-through princess attraction at Disneyland park.
The concept for the new ride came from an unlikely source – a Walt Disney Imagineering intern, David Borning (see Theme Park Magazine’s interview with David Borning).
Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider conducted an excellent interview with Dave Caranci, manager of creative development for Walt Disney Imagineering, about the ride. In the interview, Caranci says about the ride’s imaginative beginnings:
“We had an intern at the time [David Borning] who had a passion for Snow White. Because it was coming upon the 80th anniversary of Snow White, he went home and built a little model and then came back to the office and really sold us on the idea of, what if we enhance Snow White and we did some cool new things to it?”
Did You Know?
The original Snow White ride had 1,021,976 riders in its first year of operation.
(source: Independent, Press-Telegram – August 24, 1956)
“Snow White’s Enchanted Wish” differs from earlier ride versions in that it attempts to tell the full story of Snow White. The ride is like diving into the pages of a Snow White novel. Book pages come to life and riders get to “experience” the story.
When Disneyland reopened from the COVID-19 Pandemic closure, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish was there to great guests and remind them why Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth.”
Feature Image and Snow White with Animals Photos: Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort (©Disney)