One of the enduring charms of Walt Disney World is the realm of classic (mostly animated) films that the park’s attractions create and, as decades pass, maintain for us to share across family generations. The Magic Kingdom is the epicenter of Disney films brought to life.
Snow White reigns supreme over New Fantasyland with her Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Don’t miss Dopey wearing the same diamond glasses he sports in the 1937 film. At the end of the ride, just before the train returns to the platform, Snow White can be glimpsed dancing in the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs.
- Mouseketip: As the train passes the cottage at the end of the ride, look over your right shoulder to glimpse the Evil Queen in her Old Hag disguise, knocking ominously at the door.
Peter Pan, of course, has a ride devoted to his 1953 eponymous film, filled with scenes from the movie – starting with the details of the Darling children’s nursery (note the toy blocks from the film on the left side of the first room – can you see what they spell out??). You’ll see everything from Mermaid Lagoon to the epic battle between Pan and Hook. And the scenes are evocatively set by the fabulous interactive standby queue with nods to many movie elements.
- Mouseketip: As you pass over central London, notice that there are “cars” moving on the streets and across the bridges.
Although traveling circuses are getting scarce, the Dumbo ride and his circus are not going anywhere. The storks in the center of the ride recall the movie scene of Mrs. Jumbo’s happiness upon the delivery of her baby Dumbo. Hopefully the younger riders understand that the feather (in the hand of Timothy the mouse over the entrance) was a great way to get started, but Dumbo realized in the end he could fly without it.
- Mouseketip: Appropriately, another hat tip to the film Dumbo appears nearby in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station.
The Swiss Family Robinson was a 1960 live action movie that you can still experience in tree house form in Adventureland. As Disneyland visitors know (and possibly envy – since their own version is but a Tarzanified memory), Walt Disney World is now the only location in the western hemisphere for the Swiss Family Treehouse. Most families think it would be tough to live off the grid, but the Robinsons had running water (can your kids spot the bamboo buckets going up and down?), musical entertainment, and ostrich racing (no ostriches were harmed in the making of the Treehouse).
- Mouseketip: Imagineers dubbed the tree Disneyodendron eximus, which means Out-of-the-Ordinary Disney Tree!
Friends (and enemies) from 1950’s Cinderella have been immortalized in the Cinderella Castle. Five mosaic murals line the wall along the passageway through the castle and tell the story of the film. The murals were composed of over a million pieces of glass along with fragments of gold and silver. Guests commonly touch the glass slipper in the fourth mural – for luck. The metal work on the doors of the breezeway and along the hallway feature the letter C, and Cinderella’s mice friends can be seen carved into the stone at the top of the pillars. In the courtyard behind the castle, a fountain with brass statue (La Fontaine de Cendrillon) features Cindy herself along with mice Gus, Jaq, and friends. In addition, you can see the mice, along with evil cat Lucifer, in carvings by Disney legend Blaine Gibson, at the Cinderella Wishing Well on the other side of the castle along a path that runs back towards Tomorrowland. Gus and Jaq can also be spotted by guests dining inside the castle above the fireplace in the grand entrance hall (waiting area) for Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- Mouseketip: In the glass slipper mural, Anastasia is shown with a red face (anger) while Drizella’s face is green (envy).
The Mad Tea Party ride is a tribute to Alice in Wonderland, of course, and the un-birthday party scene in her 1951 movie. You’ll recognize the hat tips to Wonderland in the colorful “paper” lanterns above, the Mary-Blair designed teacups, and the topiary figures nearby of Alice (with a teapot), the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter. Music from the film enhances the dizzying experience aboard a teacup.
- Mouseketip: watch for the tipsy dormouse occasionally rising up out of the teapot in the center of the ride.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride is based on scenes from the 1977 film of the same name. The film was composed of three earlier Pooh featurettes – Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree(1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). The ride scenes were all taken from the film – Pooh floating up with a blue balloon in the blustery day room; the tumbling crockery in Owl’s tumbling aerie; the irrepressibly bouncing Tigger; ominous Heffalumps and Woozles; and the Hero Party at the end of the ride with the bright pink (strawberry?) cake!
- Mouseketip: In Owl’s House, look left to see a painting of Mr. Toad giving a property deed to Owl. (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was once housed on this spot.)
The lantern-hung Liberty Tree standing near the restaurant of the same name in Liberty Square immortalizes a scene from the 1957 Disney film, Johnny Tremain. In the film, patriots decked in feathers and war paint are en route to enact the Boston Tea Party. They stop at the Liberty Tree and hang it with lanterns – each one different from the others – just like those on the Magic Kingdom Tree. Each lantern represents one of the original 13 colonies.
- Mouseketip: Keep an eye out for Sharon, Walt Disney’s youngest daughter, who appears in a cameo in the Liberty Tree scene, standing next to Johnny Tremain.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin in Adventureland is surrounded by an Agrabah-style marketplace straight out of 1992’s Aladdin. Bits of jewelry and gems are embedded in the pavement below while towering camels may spit on you from above. Look for Genie’s lamp atop the middle of the ride. The front seat controls will send your carpet up or down, while the back seat controls tilt the pitch forward and back.
- Mouseketip: The control for the carpets features a golden flying scarab beetle – like the one in the film that opens the Cave of Wonders.
The film-based rides can really whet one’s appetite for the films, so be sure to watch them (again) after returning home! Or spend the months before your trip watching all the films that inspired the attractions you plan to ride. With the scenes fresh in your mind when you arrive in Florida, you’ll discover new details and touches that were taken right from the films and transplanted to live anew in the rides!