Alice in Wonderland is a dark ride attraction at Fantasyland in Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort in California. It is based on the 1951 film of the same name. It is next to the Mad Tea Party ride which is the only other ride of the Alice in Wonderland theme.
The ride features many audio animatronics and takes the guest on a magical adventure through wonderland. The ride has a built-in track and each vehicle looks like the caterpillar from the movie (Absolem). The caterpillar vehicle comes in several colors and seats up to four adults.
History and changes
The attraction was originally going to be a walkthrough where guest would walk around and explore the inside. The beginning would start off with guests entering a Rabbit Hole. The next part was going to allow the guest to walk through a room of forced perspective illusions and random doors that lead to nowhere. At the end of the room was going to be a concealed exit that opens once the guests are done with that room. The next room was going to be a room with moving backdrops and ascending platforms that the player must walk up. The room itself made the guest feel like they were in an ocean of waves. Shrunken Alice and the Dodo were going to be featured in that room. The third room was going to have the Dodo on a rock in the middle of a revolving platform which the guests would have to walk around on. The fourth room would have suspended figures of Tweedledee and Tweedledum jumping around and crashing into each other. Next was a room that would switch from day to night and would allow the guest to walk up steps towards the room of the Oyster Dinner. It is unknown whether it was enterable though. The next room would have the White Rabbit's house which was enterable and had a flight of stairs in the house that lead to a slide for visitors to return outside of the house. Next was going to be the garden of the flowers which features Absolem smoking on a mushroom. The next room would be the Tulgey Wood which was full of fake trees and featured the Cheshire Cat who was able to reappear and disappear. Next was the Mad Tea Party which would feature animatronics of the Mad Hatter, Alice, the Dormouse and the March Hare. Next was a hedge maze for guests to walk through and peek through square shaped holes in the bushes to see the card soldiers painting the roses red. The next room was another maze that was made of card soldiers and visitors would make their way through to find the queen's court. The last section was going to be a short walk across rotating tubular rooms with playing cards painted all over the inside.
Walt Disney and the Imagineers made a few changes and layout edits to the concept, but the idea stayed the same until when they actually began building and decided to make it a dark ride. The ride vehicles were originally going to be giant playing cards but soon after, the design changed to Absolem crossing his arms because Walt Disney felt that it was more suitable. The design for the ride excluded many of the original concepts from the walkthrough. Since this was all before Disneyland's opening, Disney and the imagineers decided to put the Alice in Wonderland ride on hold and focus on other features. The originally planned location for the ride became the Fantasyland Theater. However, they still wanted to toss the element of Alice in Wonderland into the park somewhere so they created the Mad Tea Party ride. In late 1957 or early 1958, they began to focus again on creating the Alice in Wonderland ride due to the park's success and the success of the rereleased shortened version of the movie. Because of the lack of space, it became the only two-story dark ride in Fantasyland.
On June 14 1958, the ride was opened. Outside of the ride, there was an Alice and a character in a White Rabbit costume that guests could take pictures with and meet. The ride began with the vehicle motioning up a wavy track and entering a dark cave that was supposed to be like the Rabbit hole. Alice narrated throughout the entire ride. The first room was an upside down room (the White Rabbit's house). It was a room where all of the furniture was on the ceiling upside down. That room started with the vehicle moving toward a mirror that caused them to look like they were in fact upside down. All of the upside down decorations looked like they were three dimensional due to illusions, lighting and forced perspective but they were actually all flat cutouts. There was an upside down doorway from which the White Rabbit would appear and blow his horn. The vehicle would then turn and a concealed doorway would open up. Alice voice narrated "I kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller" while the vehicle entered a room of oversized items that made the audience feel as if they had shrunken. A large Cheshire cat was on top of an oversized footstool laughing and the room would be exited with a mysterious Cheshire Cat head popping out in front of the guests. Next was the Doorknob with his mouth wide open. Behind the door was the garden of the flowers. They would sing the song "All in The Golden Afternoon". Afterwards, the vehicles would elevate two the second floor of the attraction, still in the garden. A roaring Dandelion would bounce from the floor. Next was the Tulgey Wood which began pitch black with glowing red eyes coming from all over the place. The Tulgey Wood included many of the extraordinary birds and creatures from the film. The Cheshire Cat's voice was heard singing Twas Brillig. Next was a sign that read "Mad Hatter" and the vehicle soon turned towards a room where the Mad Tea Party was celebrated and the Unbirthday Song began to play. Oversized tea cups and teapots spun in place but looked like they were nearly going to crash with the ride vehicles. In that room, there were cutouts of an angry Mad Hatter and March Hare that popped out of the ground and shouted furiously "Move down, move down!" or "Very Very Rude!". After turning, the Dormouse would pop out from a large teapot. Abruptly, an explosion of strobe lights resembling fireworks would launch and Alice would begin screaming "Oh dear, how do I get out? Oh, I've lost my way". A confusing array of signs that displayed a collection of different words covered the room. Lastly, the vehicle would crash into three different doors in a row, each crash accompanied by the Disney character Goofy screaming with terror. The ride ended with the vehicle deescalating down a wavy track.
The ride was not very successful at first, it excluded many major points and characters from the film. This included the entire Queen of Hearts segment which was planned to be in the dark ride but did not end up making it to the final build. In the 1960s, the Imagineers redesigned many of the characters and figures in the ride. This included the White Rabbit in the upside down room, the Dandelion, the Cheshire cat in the oversized room, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. All of those figures were made to have a less frightening and more well-rounded look. The unbirthday segment was remodeled to make it so that the Mad Hatter and March Hare were no longer threatening or screaming at the guests and it was turned into something more welcoming. They now looked like they were pouring tea cheerfully from a colorful tea pot. The Dormouse also received a makeover, this time, it looked less like the one from the film.
In the 1980s, many parts of Fantasyland and its attractions were outdated which resulted in a grand refurbishment called New Fantasyland. Most of the rides were destroyed and refurbished entirely on the inside and completely refurbished on the outside as well. Alice in Wonderland stayed almost exactly the same on the outside but the inside was redone and a new piece of track was added. From then on, after the vehicle goes outside, instead of the ride being over, it stays outside for a bit and then re-enters the building and the dark ride continues and then finally lets out the guests. This second dark ride area was originally part of the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride track but it was given to the Alice in Wonderland ride after New Fantasyland. The Mad Tea Party ride was also relocated to be closer to the Alice in Wonderland ride. The refurbishment of the Alice in Wonderland ride made upgrades to some of the present scenes and also added a few new scenes. New Fantasyland opened in 1983 but Alice in Wonderland didn't reopen until a year later. By the time it was remodeled, Disneyland no longer used a ticket system, but the Mushroom-Shaped Alice in Wonderland ticket booth outside of the ride stayed.
The ride now started with the same wavy track but once the player enters the Rabbit Hole, there are numerous random items surrounding the vehicle upon entering. At the end of the hall was the doorknob who began talking and then the door opened to reveal a path with a sign that said "White Rabbit's House". The cart immediately turns to show Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and and then turns again to show the house of the White Rabbit and then the White Rabbit himself. After that was the flowers singing their song along with a new Bread Butterfly animatronic and a new appearance of Alice and Absolem (the Caterpillar) seated on a purple mushroom smoking. Next was a sign that read "Tulgey Wood". From there, the vehicle would go into the Tulgey Wood which was very different from the original. There were still loads of confusing signs and three newly modeled encounters with a new Cheshire Cat. There were also many appearances of the strange birds from the movie. After the Cheshire cat points in a direction and says "He went this way", a concealed door opens up to show the Queen of Hearts' Castle and a hedge maze. There is also a sign that reads "Royal Rose Garden". Once the room is entered, the vehicle travels through the hedges to see two card soldiers messily painting the roses red while singing the Painting the Roses Red song. There are also crowds of card soldiers marching around the room and guarding certain areas. The next room shows the White Rabbit introducing the Queen of Hearts. The Royal Croquet game takes place and the queen gets ready to play while facing the guests. As she hits the hedgehog while using a flamingo as a club, the guests are transported to the next room. This room is pitch black and the only thing visible is a projection of the the red hedgehog rolling. It bounces into a wall as a door opens and the queen is revealed screaming "That's enough!... Of with their heads" at the guests. The room also features several card soldiers. Now, as a replacement for the 3 doors that the guests crash into, there are several layers of doors with the card soldiers painted on them. After this series of doors, one of the Goofy screams can still be heard. The vehicle continues on the track until it goes back inside. This time, there is now a vortex of dust and clouds with the Cheshire Cat's face in the middle. The Cheshire Cat's head tilts back and forth. The unbirthday music begins to play. The vehicle turns to the right to reveal a long table with forced perspective and the Mad Hatter and March Hare seated at the end of the table. It turns again to the White Rabbit next to a Large Unbirthday Cake. The White Rabbit repeatedly says "Oh, oh no" in response to the sparklers on the cake. The vehicle exits and returns to the dock. This version was seen as a major improvement and the ride finally gained popularity.
In 1992, the 1953 walkthrough version was recognized put into place at Disneyland Paris but was not as elaborate as the 1953 concept.
The Alice figure was soon removed from the ride. In 2010, the outdoor track was given additional side supports due to the Orange County Safety Administration. The current coverings are temporary as Imagineers are working on a more permanent solution to the safety concern. As a side effect, the white rabbit statue decoration outside of the ride was removed, even though the watch in the rabbit's hand was used as a mirror for the ride operator to observe cars that he/she cannot observe from his/her position.
In early 2014, the ride underwent a few more changes but stayed mostly the same. The coloring was edited so that the yellows in the ride would not look as green. The Rabbit Hole at the beginning began using projection mapping to display the swirling items. After the doorknob, instead of a path and a sign that said "White Rabbit's House" there was a projection of Alice chasing the white rabbit. In the garden with the flowers, some of the flowers were moved, added, and removed. The Bread Butterfly animatronic was removed. In Tulgey Wood, certain appearances of the cheshire cat were removed or switched around and the coloring of the cheshire cat was edited to be a bit less warm. There was also a new Alice figure in Tulgey Wood that looked more like the one in the film. At the croquet scene, the queen is seen getting ready to swing her club. However, this time, instead of her facing forward, she is facing more towards the side. A small King of Hearts figure and dialogue is added as well. The originally pitch black room with the hedgehog now shows and projects the hedgehog rolling through the hedge maze and running into a bush. The hedgehog is also now brown rather than red. The exit is different as well. The card soldier doors were removed and now there is one pair of brown double-doors with a gold heart in the middle. On the sides of the doors are 2 frightened projected card soldiers who yell. The doors open to reveal purple and black doors which let the player outside. The Goofy scream is still active. Once the reentrance happens, instead of the Cheshire Cat and the dust clouds, there are oversized cutouts of tea cups and pots and a projection of tea cups and teapots dancing to the Unbirthday Music that is playing. The final change is that the same tea table is there but now Alice is seated at the end of the table and the Mad Hatter is talking to Alice while the March Hare is at the table eating.
A Walkthrough of the current attraction
After the guest(s) boards the caterpillar, the vehicle proceeds into a dark cave and Alice begins narrating the story of the adventure by saying "My adventures in Wonderland began when I followed the White Rabbit down the Rabbit Hole".
The vehicle soon turns towards a hallway similar to the rabbit hole where we see the door from the film and its famous doorknob. At the beginning of this hall, Alice narrates the words "All of a sudden I fell, down, down, down". The narration ends and the door opens as the vehicle perambulates forward. The doorknob says "Looking for the White Rabbit? Well, see for yourself." while opening.
Behind the door is the woods where a projection shows Alice chasing the white rabbit and saying "Oh Mister Rabbit, wait, please!". The cart quickly turns to the left and across from the guest is a simple animatronic version of Tweedle Dee who tilts to the right and says "She went this way" to reveal Tweedle Dum standing behind him. Tweedle Dum tilts to the left and says "No, no that way".
The cart moves forward and turns to the left. During the turn, there is a vague view of the White Rabbit's house and we hear the White Rabbit saying his iconic "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date, no time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" The cart is fully turned by the time he says "No time to say hello". Once the car has turned, there is a jumping audio animatronic of the White Rabbit holding a his large watch.
The cart travels while turning right and into the garden where music changes and the large anthropomorphic flowers begin to sing their "Golden Afternoon" song from the movie. The vehicle continues to move through the garden where the flowers continue to sing. Near the end of this garden sequence, Absolem is seated on a purple mushroom smoking while nodding his head from side to side. The smoke is represented by upward-flying holograms in the shapes of letters of different colors. The vehicle continues to a sign that says "Tulgey Wood".
The vehicle turns left, the music changes and the vehicle is now in the Tulgey Wood which is flooded with confusing directional signs with the exact words: "This Way", "That Way", "Up", "Down", "Yonder", "Go Back". All of the phrases written on the signs are stylized in all capital letters and are repeated on signs throughout Tulgey Wood. Alice narrates "This is curious" as the cart makes its turns through the Tulgey Wood. She next says "Tulgey Wood" in a curious tone. As the vehicle moves past the trees, the Cheshire Cat appears and can be seen from a distance. It is possible to see another vehicle adjacent from your own as well.
The Cheshire Cat's voice narrates "Lost, Perchance? I'm not sure where I am either" as the vehicle moves towards him. Parts of the cat begin to disappear stripe-by-stripe and only his face is left over. The vehicle begins to turn left. Left to the cat is Alice, standing next to a tree. Left to Alice is a bird with large glasses holding a sign that says "Which Way" in all capitals. Alice, to the Cheshire Cat advises him"Wait, don't go! Please!". Left to the bird with glasses is a bird with a cage for a body. Inside of the cage is several small birds flying around. Next is an Owl with a stretching accordion for a neck. The vehicle continues twisting and turning through Tulgey Wood while viewing many odd birds and creatures. There is also a pair of signs that read "Watch" and "Out" which warns the adventurer to beware. The Cheshire Cat is seen again pointing in a direction and saying "By the way, she went this way".
A door opens up and a hedge maze and a view of the Queen of Hearts' Castle is now visible with a sign saying "Royal Rose Garden". The cart turns to the right and perambulates forward in a wavy pattern. The Painting the Roses Red song begins and to the left is two cards painting the roses red. There are red paint splatters all over the place. There are crowds of red card soldiers guarding and marching around in the hedge maze while the cart continues. The cart makes a circle to the left into another room where the Royal Croquet Game is supposed to take place.
There is now a sign that points left and says "Royal Croquet Game" the White Rabbit is seen in a uniform presenting the game while saying "The imperial highness, the Queen of Hearts!" once the cart is turned, the Queen of Hearts is revealed behind an arch of card soldiers. The cart perambulates under the arch and the Queen is seen using a flamingo as a club to hit a hedgehog. Next to her is a croquet rack which has two more flamingo clubs in it (one yellow and one purple). The Queen of Hearts, with a smile on a face, pleasingly says "Shall we play croquet?". The tiny King of Hearts is revealed from behind the queen saying "42, the Queen always Wins!" in his high voice.
The cart turns to the right to another room that shows a projection of the hedges and the hedgehog rolling through and accidentally flopping into a bush. The next room is where the queen, backed with many card soldiers raises her arms in the air and screams "That's enough!" in an angry voice. The cart turns to the left to reveal a hallway with projected card soldiers who jump and yell with fear. In between the soldiers is a brown door with a heart in the middle. Through the door, there is another dark room with a door with a purple and black vortex-looking swirl. A voice exclaims "Goodness" and The door opens for a yelling laugh to be heard and for the cart to return outside.
The vehicle continues outside in a wavy track pattern. Music plays. Most guests may think that this is the end of the ride, but this is false. The vehicle enters to revisit the indoors. This time, there is a room with florescent cutouts of chairs, tables and teapots. The Mad Tea Party music begins to play and the vehicle proceeds towards a projected video of teapots jumping around to the music. The vehicle turns right to show a long table where the Mad Tea Party takes place and Alice is seated at the end of the table. The March Hare and the Mad Hatter are also at the table. The March Hare sings "Happy Merry unbirthday to you!" to Alice who says "Today my unbirthday too". The cart turns left again to view a large unbirthday cake and the White Rabbit repeatedly saying "Oh, oh no" in response to his fear that the Sparkler on top of the cake may hazardously explode. The vehicle turns to the right through a green and orange striped arch and left through a stone arch. The vehicle is back outside and the cart swivels back outside. This is the end of the ride.
- Forced perspective is used for the part of the ride at the beginning of Tulgey Wood with the projection of Alice chasing the Rabbit. It makes it seem as if the guests are peering through a hole in the trees and can see Alice chasing the rabbit from afar. This is because the perspective of the video of Alice changes as the vehicle moves.
- There is a certain myth that has been passed around about the six caterpillar feet that are on top of the ticket booth for the attraction. The ticket booth is no longer used because of Disneyland's abandonment of the ride ticket system, but some suspect that there was once an Absolem figure on top of it and the feet were left over.
- Alice's narration was created specifically for the ride and used the original voice actress from the movie.
- The Alice in Wonderland attraction is the only dark ride in any Fantasyland area that has an outdoor section that is elevated. Usually, dark rides do not exit the main building when the ride is not over.