When Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865, he couldn’t have possibly predicted that in 1951 his characters would be repopularized by the Animated Disney film and in turn given a new lease on life in the golden age of Kiddie Parks for children of the world to enjoy! The further you go down the rabbit hole, the more Alice you’ll find. Below are some of my favorite representations of Alice in parks from the famous to the…not so famous.
Everyone that has visited Disneyland has hopefully ridden the tea cups or the Alice in Wonderland dark ride in Fantasyland, but did you know that Alice has chased that little nervous white rabbit down rabbit holes all over the country?
One of my favorites is this trippy day-glo version in a cave at Storybook Land (Egg Harbor NJ). In it, you enter a damp cave with neon black light cave wall paintings of Alice’s adventure in Wonderland! Once inside you’ll find dioramas of Alice and her friends represented by low budget (albeit incredibly charming) dolls and Papier Mâché likenesses. In the Spring, the park holds an Alice In Wonderland Tea Party at the park. I’ve yet to attend, but when I do, expect a full report!
Next up, is the somewhat sinister Magic Forest in Lake George, NY. I could probably write novels about this bizarre and fantastic Wonderland, but for now I’ll try and just focus on Alice’s adventures there. In keeping with their creepy factor, there are no good guys! Only villains are represented here. This Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts are enough nightmare fuel for any young child (or adult?)
Alice and company are surprisingly much more heavily represented nearby, at Great Escape. In this Six Flags operated park are the remnants of a once great Kiddie Park known as Storytown USA. Charles Wood opened Storytown in 1954 but the name was changed in 1983 and the Kiddie Rides have slowly been replaced by modern thrill rides. Not much of the original park has remained, but those in the know can find a fantastic Alice themed walk-through attractions, preserved from its original opening in 1967. Most impressive is the overgrown Alice with her limbs spilling out of the house! You can read more about this park on the awesome: Storytown USA, A Retrospective blog.
And as if Lake George didn’t have enough great Alice stuff to see, I found this bonus Mad Hatter hiding out at Sir Goony Golf (the best mini golf course I’ve ever played !)
In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Alice has another home, albeit a very tiny one. Storyland houses a a small Alice attraction, mostly comprised of photo spots. There are also Alice in Wonderland Tea Cups (no doubt inspired by another famous park’s tea cup ride!)
Perhaps one of the most extensive Alice in Wonderland walk throughs belongs to the Enchanted Forest in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Here, you will find a mannequin-like Alice with a frozen expression surrounded by some familiar faces. The highlight, I think is the bizarre Tweedledee and Tweedledum that look like they have just hopped out of a lesser known 1970s children’s TV show with their brightly colored flared pants and dotted bow ties. (I’m guessing these were not their original paint jobs.) Sadly, this park really downplays their Fairy Tale origins. Although it started as a family operated kiddie park in 1956, water thrill rides are now the big draw. Go see these guys before they are torn out and replaced by a stupid water slide!
And Finally, as a reward for those that have stuck with this post for til the very end, here is a really awful Alice themed mini Golf Course where I once was chased out by an employee for being halfway through the course at closing time! We were there at night, so for some daytime shots, check out this blog.
Curioser, and Curioser.
Where else have you found Alice in your travels? Let me know in the comments!