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 while Disneyland and Walt Disney Imagineering worked to resolve the safety issues to the satisfaction of all parties, and make the end result 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 in the Queen of Hearts section.
Video: Updated Alice in Wonderland dark ride at Disneyland with new projections & effects
None of the figures feature video-projected heads, like those seen in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, despite the rumors on other Disney fan sites.
The newly rebuilt down 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. There is also a digitally projected animated tea party seen when entering the final scene at the bottom of the down ramp.
As to why it took so long to come up with 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, there were many projectors 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 a lot more 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.