“Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is both literally and figuratively the centerpiece of New Fantasyland, so we knew it had to be something special. The attraction appeals to everyone in the family and provides just the right blend of heart, humor, and thrill while keeping with the charm of this special land.” -Tom Staggs, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman at the dedication for the Mine Train.
Over 75 years after the original release of Walt Disney’s first full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the crown jewel of the $425 million New Fantasyland, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train incorporates the classic that started it all. In fact, the new Fantasyland didn’t originally included a roller coaster in the plans. The space occupied by the attraction was planned to be more meet and great areas. Chairman Tom Staggs requested they reexamine everything and try to incorporate something that has a family feel, while adding more kinetics. The 38 inch hight requirement makes the Mine Train a great level of ride for the kids who want more than the Barnstormer, but aren’t tall enough for Big Thunder. WDI created a ride that everyone can ride, from the kids to grandparents.
Mark Kohl (Project Management Executive) explained to the D23 Magazine, “[the attraction is] telling the story in a new way and from a completely different perspective that still maintained the sincerity and authenticity of the original story.”
The new Seven Dwarfs idea sat for many years as the project’s Executive Creative Director Chris Beatty described in 2012, “an idea we kicked around, but weren’t sure how to create something truly special.” That was until an Imagineer pitched the new swinging bucket technology. The combination of the right ride mechanism and classic story, “[a] ‘chocolate-and-peanut butter’ moment.” They designed a concept for these swinging cars at WDI in Glendale, and built a crude mockup, a plywood box that could swing. After mounting it in the back of a pickup truck, they drove it around in the parking lot to prove the system would work. I’ve already ridden the attraction 7 times, and it is the smoothest and quietest coaster I’ve ever been on. The swinging cars are one of the coolest things, but to get the full effect, you have to make sure and rock the car by leaning. The further back on the train (four people per car, five cars per train), the wilder the ride!
With 140 different disciplines in design and development, including partnership with the animation department, this project was huge! “In the animatronics we take the animation from the movie and bring it to the attraction and do it cleanly. This is the best we’ve done to transfer the animation you see in the movies into the parks.” -WDI Project Manager Chad Stachnik. For the final scene where Snow is dancing with Dopey and Sneezy, WDI actually brought in polka dancers! Beatty joked, “I think it was the first time we’d hired polka dancers at Walt Disney Imagineering.”
In part two of our journey in the Seven Dwarfs Mine, we’ll discuss the details and trivia within the attraction. From movie tributes, to Hidden Mickeys, to things you wouldn’t normally give attention, Read part two here. See ya real soon!