Sunday, August 25, 2013

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs Statues at Disneyland

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs Statues at Disneyland


The long told story about the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Statues at Disneyland has been that they were an anonymous gift from an Italian sculptor. When they arrived, shortly before the opening of Disneyland in 1955 it was noted that Snow White was the same size as the Dwarfs. Walt saw them and thought they were so beautiful that he asked Imagineer, John Hench to display them using forced perspective to make Snow White appear the proper size.

While at the 2013 D23 Expo I saw the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs statutes on display. I stopped and talked with the Imangineer that was watching over them and answer questions. I found out some interesting facts about Snow White’s Grotto.

According to the Imagineer these beautiful statues were not an anonymous gift. At Walt Disney’s instruction John Hench had commissioned the eight statues from an Italian sculptor. The exact reason as to why the sculptures were made all the same height is unknown. It is thought that maybe the sculptor had never seen the movie but had seen a set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs bar soap that was sold in Italy at that time. All the bars of soap in the box were the same size so he may have thought they were all the same size.


The Imagineer I spoke to said she had actually seen the paperwork for the original statues so this is the true story. The set of eight statues cost $2,632. (Exact amount may be several hundred dollars less; my notes were damaged by a soda spill.) When they found that Snow White was not the correct height John Hench tried to order a new Snow White statue that was the correct height. To replace the Snow White Statue it would have cost another $2,000!

Walt decided not to pay the extra money to replace Snow White. Walt asked John Hench to figure out the best way to display these beautiful statues. John decided to use force perspective to make the diminutive Snow White statue appear to be proportionally correct in size next to her seven little dwarves. At a later date more statues of woodland creatures were added to add interest and beauty to Snow White’s grotto.
These beautiful statues of been repeated at other Disney parks. Originally when they were put in at the Tokyo Disneyland the height of Snow White was corrected. Shortly after the installation it was decided to redo it the same way it is at Disneyland in Anaheim California.


In my opinion no matter how these fantastic statues came to be, an anonymous gift or an accidental mistake of a commissioned project it does not matter. They are beautiful just the way they are and John Hench did a beautiful job with the force perspective displaying them. I believe the happy accident of the diminutive Snow White Statue lead to an extraordinarily beautiful display!


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