The Last Scary Adventure: Thoughts on Snow White’s Scary Adventure’s Closure.
Today, after almost 41 years of faithful operation, the Magic Kingdom will close Snow White’s Scary Adventures to make way for a Meet and Greet Experience that will feature Snow White, amongst other princesses.
Simply, this is a large loss for Walt Disney World, not just in terms of entertainment, but in historical terms, too.
The original version of the ride opened on Octover 1st, 1971, and was the second version of a similar Snow White dark ride that had premiered in Disneyland, in 1955, for that park’s opening day, too. This version of the ride, however, was much darker, more mad cap, and increasingly more abstract. Designed by Claud Coats, the ride was supposed to put you in the perspective of Snow White, and was entirely in the first person. Thus, you never saw the heroine of Disney’s first feature film, but instead became her. With this in mind, the ride revolved around several terrorizing appearances by the Wicked Witch, who lunged, transformed, screamed, and lurked around every corner of every technicolor painted flat the ride boasted. This version of the ride was bizarre. And yes, highly frightening. On my first visit to the attraction, I was scared silly. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. I’m certainly not scarred for life by one slightly frightening experience in a theme park that would grow into one of my favorite places to go to, and to learn about. Personal justifications aside… this was the reason for the attractions massive refurbishment in 1995 that altered the ride in a major way.
In 1995, measures were taken to make Snow White’s Adventures a bit more conventional. First, the heroine was added to the tableaux, and guests were merely observers of the Snow White story. Second, the focus was taken off the Witch, and given to the madcap chase and “action” sequences of the movie. These changes made a difference in the intent of the ride, but didn’t change the feel of it. The wild, jerking, lurching feeling of the bus bar ride system was still there. The quaint and classic glow-in-the-dar sets were still your surreal scenery. Above all… that was the true experience of Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
And that, I think, is quite a big loss to suffer in the Magic Kingdom. That wild, loose, partially terrifying ride system is something inherent to Fantasyland. The fact that SWSA is an opening day attraction only compounds the loss in my mind. This is something, once again, unique to Walt Disney World, and something that needs to be kept to keep the lines of homogenization from blurring the differences from the Magic Kingdoms around the world.
It’s my only hope that a ride is one day reinstated in the old SWSA building, and that the new Snow White Mine Train coaster offers something besides the sensations and sights of a roller coaster, and tries to delve into the story and charm that was captured in the dark ride format that played in the Magic Kingdom for her first 40 years.