Friday, August 26, 2011
Alice in Wonderland is one of the better "dark ride" attractions in Disneyland. It's the only dark ride that has a change in elevation (much of it runs above Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) and has an exterior portion of the ride. Alice isn't a Disneyland original, but pretty darn close entertaining guests since about 1959 I believe. As far as I know, no one has ever been hurt or killed on the Alice in Wonderland ride in all these years.
Enter Cal-OSHA, the occupational health and safety police. In 2010, depending on who you believe, OSHA either forced Disney into shutting down Alice for safety reasons or Disney volunteered to shut down the ride at OSHA's recommendation. Apparently, the upper exterior "vine" portion of the ride presented a safety hazard either in ride maintenance for the workers or if there were to be some kind of emergency ride evacuation, there was nothing preventing people from falling off the exterior track platform. Disney needed some kind of railing.
Disney complied and after a quick 3 week refurbishment, Alice came back complete with a temporary railing along with hideous looking plastic tarps covering the railing support structures. So now we have ugly Alice, and it's been that way for over a year. One of the compelling reasons that people give as to why Disney was forced to shut down the ride for safety is that Disney isn't big on temporary fixes. When it comes to refurbishing a ride, there's a plan. There is also money in the budget to take care of the refurbishment which apparently isn't the case for poor ol' Alice.
The rumor is that Disney has budgeted money to "imagineer" Alice's exterior in 2012 and do the job right. We'll see since Alice's neighbor the Matterhorn is scheduled to be down for a six month refurbishment at the start of 2012. Having side by side rides both down for maintenance is not the Disney way, but not beyond the realm of possibility either.
You do have to give Disney park management some credit though. As ugly as Alice is as it stands right now, it is running and entertaining several thousand people a day. You might have to cringe a little bit looking at it though.