“Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.” —Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955
Fantasyland is the most magical of all the lands because it is the place where Peter Pan, Snow White, and Mr. Toad all come to life and where you can go sledding down the icy peaks of the Matterhorn!As the story goes, while Walt was in the Swiss Alps filming Third Man on the Mountain, he sent a postcard of the Matterhorn saying “build this” and the folks at WED Enterprises went to work. The Matterhorn Bobsleds is 1/100 scale of the actual Matterhorn, the first steel tubular rollercoaster in the world, and features two different ride experiences on separate, intertwining tracks that help with capacity. But all of those cool facts aside, almost any Disney fan can only think of one thing when they talk about the Matterhorn Bobsleds: the “basketball court!” To set the record straight, there is not a basketball court inside the Matterhorn and there was no paperwork filed for a “gymnasium” because the city of Anaheim wouldn’t let them build a mountain, but yes there is a basketball hoop up there. This basketball hoop was put in a empty area, that is roughly the size of a half court, by some of the original mountain climbers so they would have something to do during their breaks.
Now from one of the oldest attractions to one of the newest in Fantasyland, Fantasy Faire. This beautiful area added in 2013 is the home of Disney Princesses, fun shows, and a few Disneyland Diamonds. The most common Hidden Mickey is a formation of three circles that may be perceived as the silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse, often referred to by Disney aficionados as a “Classic Mickey” (thank you wikipedia!). But Fantasy Faire does have a “Hidden Mickey”There are also a few other “hidden” tributes to a few other classic animated films.
But by far my favorite Diamond in this area is a “Hidden Pascal” that is right the little guy from Tangled made his way into this area, although it looks like he is trying to hide. He is VERY hard to find and is easier to see if you’re a small child, but next time you are crossing the bridge from the castle area to Fantasy Faire, look across the water toward part of the queue for the Princess meet and great and you just might find him.To jump from one of the newest Disney Princesses pets to the original Princess on the other side of the castle moat, we have Snow White’s Grotto.This beautiful and often missed area offers a perfect place to escape and enjoy the beauty of Sleeping Beauty Castle.Yet this area holds the second most controversial Diamond on this whole list, the marble figures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.The story I heard most of my life was the figures were “a gift from an Italian sculptor that had never seen the film, but owned a set of soaps in the form of the princess and the dwarfs. Unfortunately, Snow White was the same size as the dwarfs in the soap set, so the sculptor made her that way.” This was even perpetuated by John Hench in his book Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show (Disney Editions 2003)
“We encountered a special challenge when Walt unexpectedly received a gift of statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs carved from pure-white Carrara marble, which arrived in wooden crates from Italy with no return address or any other indication of who might have made and sent them. Walt called me down to the studio warehouse to look at them, and told me he wanted them somewhere in Disneyland. I had to tell him that we would have a perspective problem with the figures. The sculptor had carved Snow White the same size as the dwarfs. ‘Just figure it out,’ said Walt.”
This story stuck with me until in 2005, while speaking with a Disneyland Tour Guide who proceeded to tell me this was a pure fairy tale. At that time I started looking into the story and heard tale of the receipt for the statutes were in the Disney Archives in Burbank, but how would someone go about finding that information Fast forward to the 2011 D23 Expo and the Walt Disney Imagineering display and low and behold, all became clear! And there you go, it turns out Disney knows when, where, and who made these beautiful sculptures!
And now for the most controversial Disneyland Diamond…
Our main correspondent for Walt Disney World and the Orlando area and a heck of a paleontologist if he does say so himself.