The long-planned update to Alice in Wonderland debuted at Disneyland Thursday. Part of the update was to deal with safety issues raised in 2010 when a worker slipped on the outside portion of the upper track. After that incident, temporary safety rails were put in place. At the same time, Disneyland and Walt Disney Imagineering worked to resolve the safety issues to the satisfaction of all parties and make the result from a design worthy of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom.
Besides the safety enhancements, WDI took the rehab time to install several new Alice figures and many new digitally projected effects. New effects can be seen immediately as one rides down the rabbit hole into the attraction. A fully animated scene from the movie is projected onto a set piece showing Alice chasing after the White Rabbit. There are several more projected animated bits in the flower section and the Queen of Hearts section.
Video: Updated Alice in Wonderland dark ride at Disneyland with new projections & effects
The newly rebuilt ramp still features the twists and turns regular Disneyland visitors remember, albeit on a wider track. The new rails on the exit (left) side of the vehicles reflect the vine architecture of the exterior. A digitally projected animated tea party is seen when entering the final scene at the bottom of the down ramp.
As to why it took so long to develop this design and more, no one will talk on the record.
This former Imagineer’s view on the revised attraction:
I rode the attraction three times while shooting the video and must say I thoroughly enjoyed the changes. Instead of static still images of a gopher being hit across the croquet field in the Queen of Hearts scene, we get a fully animated image of the gopher.
The projected flowers, and more, add to the fun and visual richness of the classic attraction.
This is not the first time full moving animation or live-action has been used in an attraction to add movement that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. The Haunted Mansion first used it for Madame Leota and the singing busts. At Walt Disney World, many projectors were used in the attraction “If You Had Wings.” At the top of the lift in Splash Mountain, there is an animated shadow effect of B’rer Fox threatening B’rer Rabbit – produced by the author.
But with new digital projection technologies, these effects can be used in many places never considered before, and I like it.
If this is a sign of what could be coming as future enhancements or in other dark rides, it is a very welcome sign. It gives Imagineers a valuable tool to add to their arsenal of design tricks.
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