Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 2
Previously, the Thinking Christian Woman focused on why there is no church on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. In this post, we reveal where you can find an actual church building in Disneyland.
But first, a backstage look at the-church-that-might-have-been. According to the snopes.com forum, “Here is some Haunted Mansion trivia that came in my Disney catalog: an early Disneyland park concept featured a church on Main Street USA surrounded by a graveyard leading up to a haunted house.” Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion eventually found a home in New Orlean’s Square, without the church.
And now, here’s the story of the-church-that-actually-is
According to the Disney resort webpage, Walt was so captivated by the colorful river barges of Europe, that he designed an attraction called Canal Boats of the World. On Opening Day, so much of the landscaping was not yet in place, it was nicknamed, “The Mud Bank Ride.”
Two months later, Canal Boats closed while Storybook Land was constructed and the muddy banks were landscaped with miniature plants, including a bonsai tree planted by Walt Disney himself that remains to this day. The revisioned attraction re-opened on June 16, 1956.
Back in July of 1951 Walt Disney Productions had released its 13th animated feature, Alice in Wonderland – the story of a little girl who gets lost in a nonsensical world. Though a box office flop, Alice influenced Fantasyland more than any other, maybe because Uncle Walt had a soft spot for her from as far back as the 1920’s when he produced a series of shorts featuring a live-action Alice interacting with cartoons. The “Alice Comedies” became a cornerstone of Walt’s early career success. It’s no wonder then that Alice has her own dark ride, teacups ride, and her village appears in Storybook Land.
As you float under the first bridge, you immediately see Alice’s cottage on the left along the river, with a church up the hill. Neither of these structures is featured in the movie, however, Alice’s voice can be clearly heard coming from the church, singing “All in the Golden Afternoon”, a selection from the movie.
Though not featured, I believe the church might appear in the movie. Check out this clip of Walt introducing the Alice in Wonderland feature on Christmas Eve 1954, and notice the river, with a clock tower that might be a church in the background – clear influences on Alice’s Village in Storybook Land.
If you have the time and would like to see where Alice’s church appears in the context of the entire ride, start looking around time marker 1:50, on the left, after the homes of the 3 Little Pigs in this home movie.
Attendance tip: The Storybook Land Canal Boats entrance is located along the parade route, so the attraction closes about an hour before any parade. On busy days, the best time to catch this ride is right after the parade passes.
So far, this is the only church we’ve found in Disneyland. If you find one, please let us know!
The churchyard gets special treatment around Christmas with a beautifully lit tree.
Alice dreamed she fell down a dark rabbit hole and found herself lost in a world of nonsense. The Thinking Christian Woman knows that, up above, in the light of the Son – in Jesus the Christ (symbolized by the village church) – God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and He is eager to reveal His secrets to those who walk uprightly! (Proverb 3:32)
Note: This post title is an homage to the Little Brown Church in the Wildwood in Nashua, Iowa, made famous by the old country song by the same name (link takes you to a vintage Carter Family recording). I have been to this sweet country church with my parents, Dad being a native Iowan, and I think it even looks a tiny little bit like Alice’s church!
© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
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