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Snow White's Scary Adventures: The Missing Magic Kingdom Classic

Snow White’s Scary Adventures was doomed. The ride was on a prime piece of real estate bordering Disney’s newest expansion, and fans’ own insistence that the land include something other than princesses had created the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, leaving Snow White’s dark ride sorely redundant.

The last time a Magic Kingdom classic closed, it hadn’t been done with much dignity. On September 2nd, 1998, Disney had announced the opening day original Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride would close forever on September 7th… five days later. We chronicled the in-depth story of the ride’s development and its unimaginable closure in a standalone Lost Legends: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride feature. 1994’s closure of another Lost Legend: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was even worse… the ride went down for a “temporary refurbishment” and never sailed again.

Image: Disney

This time, at least, Disney gave fans plenty of notice. A January 2011 entry on the Disney Parks Blog announced that the Princess Fairytale Hall would take the place of Snow White’s Scary Adventures… but no end date for the opening day dark ride was given. In fact, fans had more than a year to take their last scary adventures.

The ride closed forever on May 31, 2012. Its very last rider ever was Ben, a young man with special needs who had an unimaginable connection with the ride. His mother’s heart wrenching and genuinely moving account of the final day is lengthy, but worth a read for fans of the resort, as is the accompanying photo report.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Image: Disney

Even if the Princess Fairytale Hall took Snow White’s place in the park, it’s more appropriate to call the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train the ride’s spiritual sequel… The family style mine train coaster (on paper, positioned between Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain on the thrill spectrum) is a fun aside made all the more impressive by a truly beautiful setting and detailed queue.

That being said, the Mine Train hasn’t quite earned “fan favorite” praise. Guests are quick to shave points off their rating, citing the ride’s short duration (often after a very, very long queue) and its lack of thrills. But the ride does all that can be reasonably expected given the miniscule property Imagineers managed to squeeze it into. Even if it’s not a stunning headliner, it’s an enjoyable enough experience and a worthwhile addition to Magic Kingdom’s lineup.

Image: Disney

And since Seven Dwarfs Mine Train offers the chance to tell Snow White’s story from a new perspective, it also offered the opportunity to feature allusions to the now-closed classic dark ride. For example, while on-board the coaster, the train passes under a wooden mining frame with two menacing vultures perched overhead, watching darkly. These simple animatronic figures are literally the pair from inside the dark ride, relocated here as a nod to fans.

And where the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train really shines is when the roller coaster briefly transforms into a dark ride of its own, passing though the Mine to the tune of “Heigh-Ho.”

Image: Disney

It’s during this scene that riders encounter the coaster’s crowning achievement: a cast of Audio Animatronic characters so exceptional, they earned a lofty position in our must-read Countdown of the Best Animatronics on Earth.

After this astounding encounter, another short coaster portion leads to the ride’s final brake run, where one last surprise is waiting: from this vantage point on the brakes, you can look through the windows into the back of the Dwarf’s cottage.

Image: Disney

The to-scale cottage positioned at the ride’s entrance might just seem like place making, but looking now through the windows on the back, you’ll see Doc, Sleepy, Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy dancing to “The Dwarfs’ Yodel Song” with Snow White, with the musical dwarfs relocated from Snow White's Scary Adventures' cottage scene.

You can take a virtual ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train here:

Elsewhere

It may also be worth noting that Snow White’s ride is still thrilling visitors to other Disney resorts around the globe.

At Disneyland in California, the 1983 update of the 1955 original is still going strong as Snow White's Scary Adventures. And California’s version was one of the first rides in Disney’s arsenal to benefit from early experimenting with texture-based projection. In fact, the ride’s most memorable scene – when the Queen in the mirror turns into the Wicked Witch before your very eyes – is “plussed” with projection technology that makes the room around her decay and age as she does. You can watch a point-of-view video of California's still-open Snow White's Scary Adventures here:

(By the way, even though Disneyland’s Fantasyland is a fraction of the size of Magic Kingdom’s, it manages to have an incredible six classic dark rides: Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Alice in Wonderland, and "it's a small world".)

The ride is also still in action at Disneyland Paris as Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains. If you can keep this straight, the updated 1983 Disneyland version informed the 1992 Disneyland Paris version, which added and tested the happy ending that in turn inspired the re-do of Florida's in 1994, bringing all three into pretty close alignment. You can see a video of Paris' version of the ride here.

And finally, Tokyo Disneyland still features the version of the ride it opened with in 1983, Snow White's Adventures. As you can imagine, having opened the same year as Disneyland's New Fantasyland the Japanese version is heavily aligned to the California re-do, though – oddly enough – it keeps a few extra overt frights from the terrifying Magic Kingdom original that was playing at the time. That makes Tokyo's ride the most unique of the four. You can see a video of Tokyo's version of the ride here.

Shanghai Disneyland turned the “castle park” formula on its head by doing away with the traditional park layout and introducing new versions of classics (as told in our In-Depth: Shanghai Disneyland walkthrough). It doesn’t have a Snow White’s Scary Adventures. But it does feature a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train of its own.

As for the Princess Fairytale Hall that took Snow White’s place in Florida? Snow White shows up to meet friends once in a while, and the book of her story is on prominent display for all to see.

Lost Legend

It’s truly a shame that the Magic Kingdom lost Snow White’s Scary Adventures. A reborn take on an opening day original based very closely on a Disneyland favorite, the ride was simply a heartwarming reminder of an earlier time. Its simple blacklight sets, static figures, and timeless story tied it closely to that earlier era from Walt’s time – the kind of simple “throwback” that’s less and less easy to spot at Magic Kingdom.

Image: Disney

Is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a fitting replacement? That depends who you’re asking. The fact that the roller coaster’s undisputed strength is its short dark ride section seems to hint that this art form is worth renewed interest and consideration, and at least in that simple regard, Snow White’s Scary Adventures does live on. Fans may always hold a grudge against the family coaster, though, since it uprooted a 1971 original in favorite of a meet-and-greet. They also note that, given Snow White’s exit, even the more ambitious version of New Fantasyland still added a net one ride.

In any case, we’re faced with the inevitable truth that a generation of Disney Parks fans was scared senseless by the unassuming Snow White’s Scary Adventures. For that generation, its loss will be felt and remembered. That’s why this Fantasyland dark ride deserves its place in our Lost Legends series. If you enjoyed your frightening journey, head over to our In-Depth Collections Library and set course for another Lost Legend. Then, we depend on you to share your memories of this frightening chase in the comments below.

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There are 4 comments.

You should have talked about how Universal Studios has a Marvel land and how that probably angers Disney to no end.

Great report - really interesting. I'm shocking to hear, if I've read it correctly, that the huge space that made up the original Snow White ride is only housing 2 princess meet and greets?! Does this mean there's a whole lot of space being wasted??

Another GREAT article Brian! I really didn't expect to learn so much more new information in addition to the previous article written about this attraction or for this one to tie in Islands of Adventure as well as the most touching story about the closing of this attraction. Seriously read the link one of the most touching Disney stories and yet another reason why I will continue to support the company.

I'm a big fan of the original Snow White's Adventures as it scared the pants off me back in the early '80's and started a life long love of very scary dark rides. I'm sure I'm not alone in this!

I would also like to note that Disney never throws anything away. I've done the runDisney Tower Of Terror 10 miler and they have featured the Wicked Witch figure that dips the apple from the ride along the course as well as a submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. These kind of Easter Eggs are what make me always go back to Disney for more.

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