It was 1958 when Walt went on a trip to Switzerland in order to help get started on the new live action film, Third Man on the Mountain. Before leaving, he stopped by one of his imagineers, Vic Greene.
“Vic,” he said, poking his head into the office door. “I want you to get brainstorming on some new attractions to put in Tomorrowland. Something big. We’ll talk more about it when I get back from Switzerland.”
When Walt arrived, he and director Ken Annakin took a train to the little town of Zermatt which has an amazing view of the Matterhorn. Walt was entranced. He rushed into a gift shop and purchased a postcard with a picture of the Matterhorn on it and on the back scrawled a simple message: “Vic, build this! Walt.”
The day the postcard arrived in Vic’s office, he started designing.
Walt moved on to Germany and became interested in the bullet-shaped trains that rode around there. In turn he had another idea for a train much like them - a monorail.
Finally, though, Walt had one more ride that he was brainstorming. Following the success of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Walt wanted to take people on a Submarine Voyage. With this three attractions in mind, Walt returned home and hit his first speed bump - his own brother Roy.
Roy didn’t want any new rides until the Disney company was out of the debt that Disneyland put them in in the first place. Walt tried to convince him but Roy was immovable. In a couple of years they could think about it, but not now.
After the end of the argument, Roy left to Europe to try and gain some foreign investors. Meanwhile Walt called together his imagineers. His opening statement was right to the point, “We’re going to build the Matterhorn, the Monorail, and the Submarines.”
The imagineers were already well aware of Roy’s opposition to the projects. “What will Roy say?” one of the imagineers at the table asked.
“Don’t worry about Roy,” Walt said. “We’re going to build ‘em. Roy can figure out how to pay for ‘em when he gets back.”
Walt might have had to go behind Roy’s back, but thank heavens he did because those three rides were sensational when they opened. Sometimes Walt was the only person to see the bigger picture.
The story of the famous Snow White and the seven dwarfs statues is known by all Disney fans. The Disney Company commissioned them from Italian artist Leonida Parma who mistakenly read the height measurement wrong for Snow White. She was supposed to be 53" tall, but was carved out of marble the same height as the 33" tall dwarfs.
In an effort to remedy this, Walt assigned the task to Disney Legend John Hench. The waterfall gets narrower towards the top, giving the illusion of distance. The studio hands sculpted small animals to place around the dwarfs, making sure the critters around Snow White matched her scale, furthering the illusion that she is taller in comparison to the others. At the base of the waterfall, John Hench installed a fountain of dancing fish, which squirt water from their mouths. The fish and the rest of the grotto’s water features come to life when Snow White sings “I’m Wishing” from the well.
Snow White’s Grotto was dedicated at Disneyland on April 9th, 1961.
In the past, coins collected from the well were sent to Variety Clubs International which
was an organization made up of the heads of show business, they would divide the money up and use it for their charity work. Nowadays, any coins tossed in the well, are donated to the Make a Wish foundation, there’s a little inscription on the well that reads: “Your wishes will help children everywhere”.
In 1983 Disneyland decided to move the opening day classic attraction Dumbo the Fying Elephant when they created new Fantasyland. Dumbo was placed in an area where Skull Rock had previously stood. This move demonstrated that Disney was open to the idea that the park could constantly change and evolve to suit guest needs.
without this mindset the area would have remained a stagnant area in the park. The move allowed for better crowd flow, for new attractions to be added and for existing ones to be updated. Ensuring that Fantasyland remained a popular destination for visitors of generations.
This building will be closing June 5th and reopening June 9th. This building houses three rides, two shops and one restroom. That's six different amenities for guests inside of this one building.
Curious as to why, during the busiest season, Disney would close three iconic attractions - Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? You can see those shingles are all starting to pop up but what else could it be? With all the recent fire concerns could it be just to remove a lot of debris on the rooftop that's gathered over the years. The gutter has all of those items that have been collected in the gutter.
Let's examine the overall shape of this amazing building.
I understand this area right here takes us up above the area where Mr. Toad is. I don't know if you're above Mr. Toad the entire time but why else would they take you up on the second floor other than to conserve space?
There's the Peter Pan tree where you can see the initials of Peter Pan and Wendy Darling. You can hear the Peter Pan Loop through this door.
This turret over here is where the Peter Pan style roof and the Bavarian Village begins. This corner pocket and how it all comes together is no accident. The parallel alignment that you see is imaginary. It's a jigsaw puzzle of little pockets. Every so often it bends and folds and pops out and extrudes and goes back in just making one big building look as if it actually is a European style Village. This building spans from across the Matterhorn, and wraps around the east side of the castle. The architecture is stunning. Walt created the look of several different facades for each attraction, in order to give the illusion of multiple structures.
To see MORE of this beautiful building AND the three attractions, watch the video slideshow!
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".