This video recreates the original version of Disneyland’s “Alice in Wonderland” attraction, which opened in 1958. This unique show was destroyed in 1983 after 25 years, having been visited by millions of Disneyland guests.
No film or video documentation was found and almost no clear photography, so we have taken creative liberties to fill in the gaps. Some of our efforts may have improved what was originally there. This is true of the soundtrack as well. Our goal was not to create a historical document but to preserve the impression and style of the original.
The 1958 attraction’s lead designer, Claude Coats, was clearly influenced by carnival spook-house rides and “Tunnels of Love” popular at the time, where the experience was deliberately dark and frightening. The art direction was remarkably crude by today’s standards, which is why the show was gutted to make way for a new version in 1984, which more closely resembled the animated film.
Our research revealed, for example, that the faces of the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and Dormouse were repainted over the years to make them more recognizable and less threatening. The looming figures of a furious Mad Hatter and March Hare were completely replaced at one point to make them less terrorizing.
Claude Coats’ vision suffered from limited space, budget, and technology, but was remarkable for many reasons and quite worth preserving. Please note that this version of the video does not allow for animated props to move or doors to swing open. The video includes the indoor portion only, as the final third of the ride—the descent down a winding vine of leaves—did not reenter the building for another scene as it does today.
More information about the creation of this video follows at the end.
CREDITS FOR THE ORIGINAL ATTRACTION:
Bill Martin & Claude Coats: Scenic Design
Ub Iwerks, Wathel Rogers & Roger Broggie: Mechanical Engineering,
Animation & Scenic Effects
Grosh and Sons – Scenery & Murals
CREDITS FOR VIDEO RE-CREATION:
Don Carson - Art DirectionDaniel
Rover Singer - Art Direction
Karen Thompson - Flower Garden Color Designer
Heidi Hirsch - Tulgey Wood Color Designer