Friday, April 8, 2016

The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Disneyland

Originally, Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a pretty frightening cinematic character. In the 1990's however, Disney managed to make him all cute and cuddly. Well, sort of.

Disney released their animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame on June 21st, 1996. On that same day, the "Festival of Fools" show debuted at Disneyland.

The show played in a special arena that was built in the back of Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland. I know what you are thinking....Frontierland and The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Yes, it was an odd mix of two different centuries and two different countries. Perhaps this was the start of Disney not caring about continuity of theme? Personally, I think it would have been better if they had stuck it in the Fantasyland Theater, but "The Spirit of Pocahontas" show was still playing over there and would continue it's run for another year.

Here are some "Festival of Fools Facts" (from the blog, Vintage Disneyland Tickets):

Back in 1996, I shot some VERY short video footage of the arena under construction:

I took these next four photos during the one and only time that I ever saw the Festival of Fools show. This first one shows part of the the "Topsy Turvy Day" processional that passed through the arena during the show.

Here, we see Clopin standing on a box in the center of the arena. In the background of the photo, you can see a bridge that was part of a show set that wrapped around the arena. The audience seating was also "in the round."

Quasimodo did his own stunts.

Also in 1996, the Villains Shop in Fantasyland was converted into "The Sanctuary of Quasimodo" and a Hunchback vignette was placed in the store window. The window had previously showcased various Disney villains over the years, such as Ursula, the Wicked Witch, and the Evil Queen from Snow White. (I have pics of some of the Villains Shop window displays and will include those in a future post.)

At this same time, the windows of the Main Street Emporium received all new displays featuring scenes from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I still miss the days when the newest Disney animated feature would be retold through miniatures in the Emporium windows. I wonder which movie was the last one to have multiple window displays? Does anyone remember?

Back in 2005, some of the figures that had been displayed in the windows over the years, were brought back as a part of the park's 50th anniversary celebration. This included Esmeralda and her pet goat, Djali. These figures remained in the Emporium's windows for 10 long years, but were finally replaced in 2015 with all new displays.

In 1997, a Hunchback of Notre Dame parade or "Cavalcade" was created. At the end of the parade, there was an announcement urging guests to "Come join us later today at the Festival Arena, where we celebrate the triumphs of Quasimodo and the Hunchback of Notre Dame."

If anyone is interested in seeing the parade, I shot video of it from two different spots along the parade route. This first clip was filmed from The Plaza:

And this footage was shot from the It's A Small World area:

As for present day nods to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Princess Fantasy Faire (which opened in 2013 on the former site of the Carnation/Plaza Gardens), features "Clopin's Music Box." There is a hand crank at the bottom of the box and as it is turned, the song "Topsy Turvy" plays.

The scene also changes slightly within the music box as the crank is turned. The sun and moon pass over in the sky, Quasimodo appears and disappears from one of the cathedral's towers and I believe some of the people in the crowd also come and go.

If you look carefully within the crowd, you can spot other Disney characters, like Mr. Smee and Belle.

Well, that is everything I have relating to The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Disneyland. Just as a final note here.....the remnants of the Festival Arena have recently been removed, along with a HUGE section of Frontierland. All of this is being done in order to make way for a Star Wars themed land. Personally, I wish Disney was sticking this new land in California Adventure, or even building a third park to showcase their "acquired" properties like Star Wars and Marvel. I am very sad to see this being plopped down on top of Walt's Frontierland, and even sadder to see how many of the decades-old trees are being chopped down for it. :-(

***POST UPDATE (May 4, 2016)***

Commenter, "Snow White Archive" (from the blog by the same name!), left a comment below that reminded me of some additional "Hunchback"-related photos that I had. These were all taken at Tokyo Disneyland. I've mentioned before that adult guests can wear costumes during the first and last week of the park's Halloween festivities. Here are some of the Hunchback costumes that I saw during a visit in October of 2010.

Notice how the "Esmeralda" below, is holding a "Quasimodo" Duffy!

***POST UPDATE (Aug. 20, 2016)***

I just came across this "Hunchback" venticular/flicker button that I had forgotten about. It was part of a "lot" of pinback buttons that I purchased on Ebay and it still has a Disneyland price tag of $2.50 on the back.