During the planning of Disneyland Park, the castle in Fantasyland was known by several names, including Snow White Castle. By the time the Park opened in 1955, Walt had decided to officially name the palace Sleeping Beauty Castle in honor of his then in-production animated feature—but there was no question that his first and fairest fairy-tale princess would be include in his new Magic Kingdom. Created by such Imagineers as Ken Anderson and Claude Coats—both of whom had helped create the original film—Snow White’s Adventures was an Opening Day attraction in Fantasyland. When the attraction was reimagined in 1983, it was renamed Snow White’s Scary Adventures, offering fair warning that the Witch lurked within. Snow White herself was also added; previously, the Imagineers had intended that guests would consider themselves Snow White as they experience her adventures, but most people just wondered why she was missing from her own attraction.
Certainly the loveliest tribute to the royal beauty at Disneyland is Snow White Grotto, a bucolic corner tucked away near Sleeping Beauty Castle. Exquisitely sculpted figures of the little princess and her diminutive friends, carved from Italian marble, stand in a rock-hewn grotto complete with cascading waterfall. The trouble was, the Snow White figure was the same size as the Dwarf figures, making the little princess a little too little. When Walt assigned John Hench to design the area, the legendary Imagineer solved the scale challenge through forced perspective, placing the Snow White figure well above the Dwarfs in a carefully designed setting, giving the illusion that she is taller than they.
An enchanting Wishing Well is also nearby, and when Snow White is heard singing from the grotto, the echo of the song charmingly emanates from within the well. In 1987, Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Snow White, was invited to digitally re-record the song for improved audio fidelity. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach the high notes, Adriana turned away from the mic and quietly said, “Mr. Disney, if you are up there, please help me find Snow White’s voice.” She turned back for one final take and sang every note perfectly. That final take is the one heard by Disneyland guests at Snow White Grotto to this day.
The House Snow White Built | The Snow White Reunion | Snow White on Stage | A Smile and a Song | Who’s the Fairest Star of All? | Snow White at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom |
Now Don’t Tell Me Who You Are—Let Me Guess | Happily Ever After
Unveiled at a star-studded world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been holding audiences spellbound with its enthralling characters, unforgettable music, and timelessly artful animation. Through 75 years of fairy-tale magic, this motion-picture masterpiece has inspired all sorts of honors, commemorations, and merriments. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art adding Snow White cels to its collection in 1938 and the Magic Mirror “hosting” One Hour in Wonderland, Disney’s very first television special, in 1950, to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train scheduled to open at the New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in 2014, Walt’s original princess is never far from the heart of Disney.
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Jim Fanning