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Disney's 'Wonderland' dark ride re-emerges a bit more wonderful

The recent renovation addresses the handrail issue that has irked fans for four years, and adds new technologies to the classic dark ride.
The recent renovation addresses the handrail issue that has irked fans for four years, and adds new technologies to the classic dark ride.
Loren Javier

The Alice in Wonderland attraction has always been rather unique amongst Disneyland's famous Fantasyland dark rides, opening years later than its peers and featuring a novel outdoor section of elevated track. When this popular portion of track came under Cal OHSA scrutiny in 2010 for its lack of regulation handrails, Disney's management responded by installing a seemingly slapdash assortment of generic rails and vinyl that drew instant criticism by the fan community. Now four years later, a long awaited renovation of the classic attraction has brought relief and joy to park aficionados as well as signalling the start of sweeping upgrades across the iconic land.

More than a common refurbishment, the recent downtime saw the introduction of technological enhancements and upgrades to old scenes in addition to permanent safety fixes for the outdoor track. Fan site MiceAge called the updates "absolutely stunning," citing the effective removal of the much maligned handrails and the use of projection technology similar to that seen on Big Thunder Mountain. The outside portion of the ride with its fanciful faux leaves has been made a bit wider to accommodate handrails that only appear when needed for maintenance or guest evacuations.

While relieved that the ride was finally fixed and even improved, some fans still wonder why it took so long for the renovation to take place. Finances figure as the most likely culprit, with aesthetic fixes often ranking rather low on the park's priority list. And although Alice was late to the party in 1958, its recent crowd-pleasing refurbishment will be but the first in a plan to revitalize the Fantasyland dark rides in time for the park's diamond anniversary next year.

With guests already ecstatic about the renewed adventure through Wonderland, visitors have good reason to be excited for the reported refurbishments to come as we approach Disneyland 60th anniversary in 2015.