Friday, July 3, 2020

Alice In Wonderland's Grand Reopening - 1984

In 1984, a newly remodeled "Alice In Wonderland" attraction opened at Disneyland. The rest of Fantasyland had already been remodeled, and had opened just eleven months earlier as, "The New Fantasyland."

At that time, a sign was posted out in front of the closed attraction, letting guests know that a "New Alice" was coming soon.

The Spring 1984 issue of Disney News Magazine had an article, about the anticipated reopening of "Alice."

The attraction opened on April 13, 1984, after a special grand reopening ceremony. I was at the park that day, and took the following pictures.

The festivities began with the White Rabbit approaching the attraction with a giant pair of ribbon-cutting scissors.

Next, the doors on the second level of the attraction opened and dancing flowers came out and made their way down the "giant leaf" track. These flower costumes were the same ones used in the Alice In Wonderland unit, of "Fantasy On Parade."

The dancing flowers were followed by the Queen of Hearts' marching cards. The large marching cards costumes were used the previous summer in the "Flights of Fantasy Parade", which celebrated the grand opening of The New Fantasyland.

The Mad Hatter made an appearance on the second level, holding a large bucket of red paint. I wish I could remember more about the ceremony or what the Mad Hatter was saying here. I do remember that this was the time, when Disney made the switch from the Mad Hatter character being a person inside of a "rubber head" costume, to a "face character" (where the face of the person portraying the character is visible, and they are allowed to speak to guests).

After the ribbon was cut, red and white balloons were released into the sky, along with some larger heart-shaped balloons.

This video features partial footage (the second-half) of the opening ceremonies for the new Alice In Wonderland attraction, as well as other new additions to Disneyland in 1984 (like Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Parade and the 3-D film, Magic Journeys).


In 1982, the Disneyland guidebooks featured artwork, showing what the new Alice-themed section of Fantasyland would look like.

The "teapot" ride operator's booth for the Mad Tea Party attraction, never found it's way into the finished product. And notice on the far right, the Chesire Cat can be seen sitting on top of a mushroom. I wonder if this was intended to be an animatronic figure, a static figure, or if the artist was just "taking liberties." A static Chesire Cat figure was eventually added to the east side of the Alice attraction (the side facing the Matterhorn), but that came along many years later, and was not a 1984 addition.

And here is a pic from 1982, showing the "Alice Unit" of Disneyland's Fantasy On Parade. The "Dancing Flower" costumes seen here, were the same ones used in the reopening ceremonies of the new "Alice In Wonderland," and also on the cover of that Spring 1984 issue of Disney News Magazine.


DrGoat said...

What a blast! Wish I could have been there. Lots and lots of giggly fun. Went to the Park 4 or 5 times in the '80s. Met my future wife in '81 and soon discovered she had never been to Disneyland or WDW. I knew what my mission was from then on. It soon became one of her favorite destinations after that of course.
Thanks Tokyo. Great post and the video of The New Fantasyland in your previous post brought it all back.

TokyoMagic! said...

DrGoat, funny.....there have been people in my life, who after I have met them, became big Disneyland fans as well!

I'm glad to hear that this post stirred up some good memories for you!

"Lou and Sue" said...

TM! I love this post! This is one of my favorite attractions!

I wish I could've been there to see all those characters come down the giant-leaf track. How cool! (It had to be dangerous for some of the characters that couldn't see too well out of their costumes, right?? What if they tripped?!)

In your picture of the White Rabbit with his ribbon-cutting scissors, it looks like he has blue and purple [leaf] wings. :)

Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures and memories!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, this has always been my favorite dark ride, even though I did like it better before it's 1984 redo.

Ha, ha! It does look like the White Rabbit has wings....multiple layers of wings!

I hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July, as well!

K. Martinez said...

Believe it or not, the "A New Alice in Wonderland in 1984" sign is my favorite pic today because I still remember being there looking at that sign, greatly anticipating it's future opening.

With the new Alice in Wonderland 1984, I never understood why they removed the upside room section. One of the best features of the original attraction. Thanks for another great post, TokyoMagic!

K. Martinez said...

I meant upside-down room.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I really liked that sign! I wonder if it got saved, or if it was tossed in the trash? I know they can't save everything for the archives, but it was a pretty nice sign.

I didn't understand the removal of the upside-down room, either! I also didn't understand why they took the Tea Party scene, which occurred in the middle of the movie and also in the middle of the original version of the attraction, and stuck it at the very end of the ride. Shouldn't the ride have ended with the Queen and her marching cards chasing after you, and then you just barely escaping? The "Tea Party" finale just seemed too "tacked on" in my opinion. It's like they forgot to include it earlier, and at the last minute they said, "Oh well, let's just stick it here at the end!"

JG said...

This is great. I missed all of this, busy being married, moving etc.

Thanks Tokyo, a great post as always!


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, Thank you!!!

Chuck said...

Aaaagh! Back to my normal "Oh, yeah - a new month started last week, and I forgot to check MTW again" pattern of stopping by.

Good heavens! Don't those performers know they could be killed by a fall from those wide leaves? Where was CalOSHA when all of this mayhem and general flouting of safety standards was happening?

I think they may stuck the Tea Party scene at the end because that ground-level area which hadn't been in the previous version of the attraction was physically separated from the rest of the ride by the outdoor leaf section. Whatever they put in there had to be pretty small and stand alone from a narrative perspective, and perhaps cutting the Queen of Hearts' scenes in two just didn't work well.

I don't remember the upside-down room, although I know I saw it. I'm guessing they cut it since it wasn't in the movie.

Thanks for the video link. Fun to see Donald in 3-D glasses, almost foreshadowing his appearance in Mickey's Philharmagic. And the clips from Magic Journeys look really silly in 2-D.

Where was that Sgt Preston show? I've never heard of it, although I'm familiar with both Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and the song they're singing from the soundtrack of How the West Was Won.

Another fun post, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, you are probably right about why they stuck the Tea Party scene at the very end of the ride. Have you been on the attraction since they added an "Alice" figure to that scene, and projections to other parts of the ride?

You and Sue have me wondering now, if they had to get any kind of special permit, to have those performers walk around on the "leaf track"? Since it was over 35 years ago, and things were much "looser" then, I'm guessing that they did not.

Sgt. Preston's Yukon Saloon and Dancehall was over at the Disneyland Hotel. It was kind of near the Monorail Cafe. The door to enter it was in one of those indoor/outdoor corridors, on the ground floor of the building with all the shops. Later, that space became The Neon Cactus, and was a popular spot for "line dancing," back when that was all the rage.

Chuck said...

I doubt any kind of permit was needed. If you'll recall, CalOSHA didn't even notice anything was "unsafe" about that part of the track until 2014, a full 30 years later (and 56 years after the ride opened).

I have not seen the new enhancements to the Alice ride; my last trip to Disneyland (or any Disney Park, for that matter) was in 2009 (although we did spend an evening at Disney Springs in 2016).

Ahh, that helps me place where Sgt, Preston's was. I remember The Neon Cactus, although we never went there (I'm too clumsy for line dancing).

I just read that Jack Wrather bought the rights to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon during its last season on ABC (ironically broadcast in a time slot directly competing with The Lone Ranger, another Wrather property, on CBS), so it makes sense that they would (and could) reuse the name at the Disneyland Hotel when Wrather still owned it.

After Disney bought the Wrather Corporation in 1988, they divested themselves of most of the company's non-hotel assets, including Sergeant Preston and the Lone Ranger. Through a complicated series of mergers, they are now owned by Classic Media, which is owned by NBCUniversal.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, that is kind of amazing when you think of it, that "Alice" went 56 years without any incidents, and then suddenly it is deemed "unsafe." I hate the way the outdoor track looks now. They ruin everything, don't they?

Wow, I didn't even know that there was a TV series by the name of, "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon"! Thanks for the info about the show and Wrather's involvement/ownership.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I forgot to mention that I didn't mind the changes they made to "Alice In Wonderland." The projections are fairly minimal and I think that they do enhance the attraction. See, I don't hate change or everything that is new! Now having said that, don't ask me my opinion on the changes they made to Peter Pan's Flight! :-(

Chuck said...

Sergeant Preston of the Yukon actually started out as a radio program called Challenge of the Yukon on Detroit's WXYZ, the same station that developed The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. My parents grew up within WXYZ's broadcast area and listened to all three shows at various times.

I remember seeing a few episodes on cable back during the early '80s. Trying to remember which cable network showed it - maybe CBN?

There were changes to Peter Pan's Flight?! Don't tell me they shoehorned Disney characters in there like they did with iasw... ;-)

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I'm guessing in the early days of television, it was fairly common to take a successful radio show, and try turning it into a successful TV show? I know that "I Love Lucy" started out as the radio show, "My Favorite Husband."

I can't tell if you are serious, or if you really didn't know that they made changes to Peter Pan's Flight. I know you were kidding about the shoehorned Disney characters part!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, you can go to this YouTube video to see some of the changes. They compare the old and new versions of Peter Pan's Flight...


Major Pepperidge said...

I should have checked in earlier - usually at the beginning of any given month I try to see the newest “Meet The World” blog post! It’s funny, just the other day I was writing text to accompany some “Lou and Sue” photos, and one of the pictures showed the “Alice” ride in 1984, so I wound up doing research to see when that ride opened (since I knew that it wasn’t ready for the 1983 “New Fantasyland” debut).

Very cool that you were there for the 1984 event! I have always loved the “Alice” ride, once in a while I’ll see a list of “rides that need to be replaced”, and this one will be on the list. No way! It’s SO “Disneyland”. I would be very upset, although these days I guess nothing would surprise me.

I love that concept artwork for the new “Wonderland” area (did they really have that much room?). I agree, the teapot ride operator’s booth is nice. I kind of like the Cheshire Cat in his cubby in the rocks, sort of an unexpected surprise.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I can't wait to see Lou's photo of the Alice ride in 1984. I'm assuming it is an exterior pic....but now I am wondering if Lou ever took interior pics of any of the attractions. I guess that's a question I should direct at Sue!

I can't imagine why anyone would think that "Alice" should be replaced. I bet the people who think that are the same ones who didn't even bat an eyelash, when Disney truncated the Rivers of America, chopped off a good chunk of Tom Sawyer Island, and cut down all the 50-60 year old trees along the berm in Frontierland.

I love that concept art, too. A very abbreviated version of it appeared in Disney News magazine, but I'm glad the full version was used for the DL guide books. I also like the addition of the Chesire Cat in his own little "cubby," on the side of the attraction. I have been trying to figure out exactly when he was was added to the side of the attraction. I should ask Mike Cozart! I bet he knows! I just know that it came much later. The little hammerhead birds on top of the rocks, were also added at that same time.

Chuck said...

TM!, yeah, lots of radio shows went to TV and reused or adapted some of the same scripts - Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, and The Jack Benny Program are just a few examples.

No, I really didn't know that there had been an update to Peter Pan. I don't keep close tabs on what's happening in the Parks anymore. I heard they've done something with the parking lot.

Sue, thanks for that video link. I found a more in-depth analysis and comparison of his at Not having seen it in person, I'm hesitant to pass judgement. I will say they seem to be technically well executed, although I'm not sure they enhance the attraction as much as the reviewer believes they do. And for the record - the Indian Village and the Jolly Roger have always been part of the Neverland flyover (the cannon boom is deeply ingrained in my memory) and there have always been moving "cars" in the London flyover scene.

TM! & Major, if it helps pin the date down, I know the Cheshire Cat was in place in his cubby by 1995. That was the wheelchair viewing area for the parades, and we sat there with my grandmother on her one trip there.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, Chuck(!), I'll look at that other video, now.

TM! I really don't know if my dad has inside views of 'Alice in Wonderland,' as I still haven't looked at all his pictures and slides, yet. Am working my way through the boxes, slowly. I sure do hope to find some, though! (I have found interiors of some of the other attractions, so let's hope I find 'Alice.')


TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, yes, the miniature Indian village and the Captain Hook's ship have always been a part of Peter Pan's Flight, and so have the moving cars in the London scene.

My complaint with the renovation was, that they took out the animatronic figures of Wendy, John and Michael in the nursery, and replaced them with static figures. The animatronic figures used to turn and nod their heads, and blink their eyes. Now, the new figures are basically statues, which are attached to a pole on the wall that goes up and down like a carousel horse. I don't have a problem with Disney changing the location of the children, but I don't understand why they got rid of the animatronic versions of them. Now, they just look like cheaper plastic figures, from an old "Disney Store" display.

Thanks for the info about the Chesire cat figure. That does help me get a little bit closer, to the date of the exterior additions.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I'd be interested in seeing your dad's pics, of any attraction interiors!

Melissa said...

I didn't realize face characters were still wearing their own hair at this point; that doesn't look like a wig on Alice!

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, maybe at one time, they let the people who had similar hair (color, length, etc.), just "use" their own natural hair for a character?