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.


K. Martinez said...

While I enjoyed Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (great musical numbers and animation) the ending fell flat for me. The 1939 version with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara is still my favorite.

Great coverage on a bit of Disneyland history from the 1990's, my least favorite decade of Disneyland. And like you, it always bugged me that The European themed Hunchback show was in Frontierland's territory. I knew at that point that Disney just didn't give a hoot and it was all about the promotion and synergy. Disney has taught me to dislike the word "synergy".

Would you happen to know if the "Festival of Fools" show at Disneyland Park contained the same show and musical content as "The Hunchback - A Musical Adventure" at Disney's Hollywood?

Someday, I'm going to explore Fantasy Faire Village a little deeper to see all the homages to different Disney-European fairytales like Clopin's Musical Box and Rapunzel's Tower. Thanks again for another wonderful post.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I also prefer the 1939 version of the film!

The two live park shows appear to be quite different from each other. Of course many of the same songs were used, but Anaheim's version was presented "in the round" with the action playing out on a central stage, in the aisles, and on the sets that surrounded the theater. It appears that Orlando's was presented on a single stage with a forward-facing audience. Also, Orlando's version of Quasimodo was an actor with a wig, makeup and facial prosthetics, whereas the Anaheim version used the full "walk-around" character costume of Quasimodo. Orlando's version also included the three Gargoyle characters from the film (played by actors) and Esmeralda's pet goat (as a marionette) all of which were absent from the Anaheim presentation. Other puppets were used in the Orlando version to represent many of the townspeople, Frollo's guards, and the pigeons up in the rafters of the cathedral. Orlando's show seems to follow the story and dialogue from the movie much closer than Anaheim's.

I wasn't crazy about what was going on at Disneyland in the 1990's either. So much destruction took place just in the four year span of 1994-1998 and so many closures of classic attractions like the Skyway, Main St. Electrical Parade, PeopleMover, Submarine Voyage, CircleVision, etc. (not to mention the ruining of an entire land.... Tomorrowland). Having said that, 2016 will go down in my book, as another period of mass destruction at Disneyland. I was actually thinking of going back and adding a couple photos at the end of this post, showing the demolition currently taking place in Frontierland. What do you think? Is it too depressing? Maybe I'll do a separate post just about that...not that there aren't already photos available out there.

Major Pepperidge said...

You really don't want people to know what you look like!! ;-) I understand, because then you'll have to deal with the paparazzi, and you'll never get a moment's peace when out in public.

I was recently given some photos from around the same time period as yours, showing Quasimodo, as well as some of the characters that would be seen in the Festival of Fools.

I vote for putting the current "destruction" pix in a separate post. It has been sort of fascinating to see the photos popping up on the web, even though I am not happy about it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, let's just say that I'm shy!

I hope you will eventually post your photos even though they are from a more recent time period in Disneyland history. Actually, it's hard to believe that 1996 was 20 years ago!

I agree with you when you say the destruction pics are fascinating....they're morbidly fascinating, actually. They are also unbelievable, sickening and quite heartbreaking!


I agree with K. Martinez regarding the word "Synergy" - it became a Disney Eisner/Pressler Regime's "Nazi-esque" word that brainwashed Disney employees to reluctantly accept the drastically BAD changes happening to Disneyland. The 1990's was when the "bowling Ball" began to roll down the stairs in Disneyland class and quality. It was the beginning of retail managers and unimaginative "marketing" major's deciding what additions went into Disneyland rather than Imagineers.

And now with Star Wars being quickly forced-fitted into Disneyland, I fear that "bowling ball" is at the top of the stairs AGAIN.

Chuck said...

I can remember being back in SoCal for a month in early '97 and being really excited at getting back to Disneyland (we'd moved away in '95). I turned a corner, saw the "Hunchback" overlay of Big Thunder Ranch & Barbecue, and got really angry. I turned to my aunt and uncle and fairly spit out "what is THAT doing in FRONTIERLAND??!!" followed by the anecdote about Walt's anger at a publicist parking a car near the Frontierland station. I think that was the point when I realized that the minor changes we'd witnessed a few years earlier weren't anomalies - Disney management just didn't get it anymore.

I hate synergy.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, brainwashed employees! I used to feel that same way when I would talk to cast members in the nineties....especially after the Light Magic debacle! It was like they were all regurgitating the same "programmed" responses. At least today, when I say something to a cast member about the current butchering of the trees in Frontierland, they all seem to express a genuine concern about the situation and they aren't just giving with a scripted "Disney" response.

Chuck, "The beginning of the end!" :-(

Chuck said...

I got my first inkling that all was not well during a conversation with a CM/waitress at the Carnation Cafe in February of '95. She alluded to some recent issues stemming from management changes that had her and a lot of her co-workers uneasy. I understand now she was talking about the beginnings of the Pressler regime.

Glad to hear that CMs are allowed to their own opinions again.

Snow White Archive said...

Very thorough documentation as usual Tokyo. Well done. Hunchback was not one of my favorite Disney films, but I do think you're onto something with that first photo. If Disney was to produce a line of Quasimodo masks for sale at the parks, I bet they'd sell like hotcakes. ;)

TokyoMagic! said...

Snow White Archive, you just reminded me that during a visit to Tokyo Disneyland, I photographed an adult guest that was dressed as Quasimodo (without a mask, however). While I saw multiple "Alices", "Snow Whites", "Prince Charmings", and even more than one "Esmeralda", I saw only one "Quasimodo" during that visit! Even though it's not the same "Disneyland" park, I have just added some Tokyo Disneyland photos to the end of the post. Thanks for reminding me of that!