“Board a mine cart to travel through the scary adventures of Snow White, but look out for the Wicked Witch!”
BACKSTORY (July 17, 1955—Present): Originally titled “Snow White’s Adventures.” Imagineers designed the ride so that guests felt like they were Snow White. Few understood this and wondered why Snow White wasn’t in the ride. A few readers of my blog chimed in with their fantastic memories of the original attraction:
Oddly, I don't recall being scared by the Snow White ride. I know I rode it as a kid, but it just seemed fun.
The movie was a huge deal in its time, a blockbuster on the order of the original Star Wars. It was not meant as a kid movie and had scary parts that were not toned down. Of course, we are hardened now, and find it tame, but not to the audience when it was new.
Mom told me the story that Dad took her to the film on a date before they were married, she thought it was scary. Both of them always had a soft spot for the ride and Snow White's Grotto.
The mural gave fair warning of what kids could expect on the ride. The witch's pupils were painted fluorescent red, and had a black light shone on them for fiendish effect. This original version scared the H--- out of me when I was I tot ,the first dark ride I went on. Now that's a happy memory! Too bad the '83 redo lightened it; how many frightened kids were permanently traumatized by the '55 edition? Or by the still scary "Snow White" movie?
And from the less is more files: in this first Snow White ride, trapped in the witch's castle and between gruesome scenes, the mine cars would twist around several corners in complete darkness, which was scary in itself and heightened anxiety for the next shock. Very canny staging.
Thanks Dave for this reminder of classy Disneyland!
During 1983, all of the Fantasyland dark rides were redesigned slightly to include the main characters of the films the attractions represented. Previous reports have claimed that Snow was not added until 1983, however, photographic evidence shown below from August 1972 proves differently. Tony Baxter, Sr. VP of Creative Development at Disney Imagineering, was so afraid of messing up that he requested all dark rides be 25% longer allowing that even if they weren’t better, they’d at least be longer. The ride vehicles are mine cars named after the Seven Dwarfs. The Dwarfs in the cottage scene are: Doc on mandolin, Grumpy on organ (the organ’s pipes feature wood-carved animals that shove nuts in their mouths), Happy on the bass, Bashful on the accordion, Sleepy on fiddle, and Dopey is on Sneezy’s shoulders. In the scene when the Witch offers the guests the poisoned apple, guests consistently stole the apple. When Fantasyland reopened in 1983, a hologram solved the problem.
For a fantastic resource on this dark ride, click to visit KenNetti’s website. To the left, you’ll find the diagram he put together of the 1983 version of Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
The Winter 1956 issue of the MIckey Mouse Club Magazine featured a teaser of the Snow White attraction at Disneyland, illustrated by Disney artist Ken Anderson on pages 36 and 37. Anderson was a major part of some of the most well-known Disney animated films: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Pinocchio," "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," and "The Jungle Book." He also worked on the development of Disneyland. Ken was a 1991 winner of the Disney Legends award for Animation & Imagineering.
You'll note that at this point in the attraction's history, Snow White herself is nowhere to be found. Here are the twelve images with the accompanying text that can be found in that issue: