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Karl Buiter

The Castle Wishing Wells

Text and photos by Karl Buiter, contributing editor

Your wishes will help children everywhere.
Snow White's Grotto inscription at Disneyland.

Just to the right of the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, you may spot one of the true Hidden Treasures in Disneyland - Snow White's Grotto and Wishing Well.  In Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, a companion Hidden Treasure lies just to the right of Cinderella's Castle - Cinderella's Wishing Well.

Snow White's Grotto and Wishing Well in Disneyland is freely accessible on the rightmost path in front of the castle, or via a walkway near the Villian's Shop in the Castle Courtyard. Led by bells high up in the castle tower, you'll soon hear Snow White sing "I'm Wishing", with her echoed responses coming from deep within the well.  The voice is performed by the original Snow White animated voice actress - Adriana Caselotti.

The last take...

There's a wonderful story about Adriana Caselotti's re-recording of the soundtrack now used at Snow White's Wishing Well at Disneyland - that was done back during the 50th anniversary theatrical re-release of Snow White. [A magazine writer friend related it to me, and this seems like the perfect part of the site to finally tell it.]

Apparently, Adriana used to take the greatest of pride that until her very last days she could still do the famous "voice" - and usually she sounded just about as fresh then as she did back in the late thirties.  

As you may well know, I'm Wishing, the song you hear every few minutes at the well requires a very solid, almost operatic, voice to perform well. Over the years for the more demanding studio work, Adriana had been increasingly replaced by several other actresses who were a little bit more reliable whenever it came time to do Snow's voice.  

For this little project, apparently the forces that be at Disney thought it would be a nice touch to give her one last shot to digitally record and replace the patched together film soundtrack they were using at the grotto since it was originally installed. They wanted to capture her performance as Snow for posterity as the years went on.

Anyway, the day for the session came, and sadly, try as she may, Adriana just could not reach the high notes required of her for the song. Take after take came and then went - and she just couldn't make it. People who had pushed so very hard for her to do this little project were heartbroken to say the least.

Finally, apparently just as she sensed they were going to call the session over, she asked if she could go ahead and ask someone for help. Rather puzzled, (since she was alone in the studio) the engineer and producer went ahead and gave her the go-ahead.  

She turned away from the mike - looked up skyward - and very quietly asked:

Mr. Disney, if you are up there - please help me find Snow White's voice.

After a moment, she turned back around and asked for a last take. The engineer crossed his fingers, hit the start button, and the tape began to roll. She got each and every note absolutely perfect that one last time.

[And yes... those tears welling up in your eyes now are just what happened to everyone who was in the studio too upon the completion of the track.]

So, the next time you stop by Snow White's Wishing Well at Disneyland do take a careful listen won't you? It's quite a heavenly performance they have playing there if you ask me.

- Al Lutz

Cinderella's Wishing Well at Walt Disney World rests in a small side area high on the path that leads from the castle toward Tomorrowland. Like its Disneyland cousin, it is a wonderful place to take a short break in the afternoon or to enjoy a romantic moment late in the evening.

Snow White's Grotto
Snow White's Grotto, Disneyland USA

Cinderella's Wishing Well
Cinderella's Wishing Well Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The Statuettes

The statuettes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that are in the grotto:

Snow White
Snow and Friend

Dwarf 6
Sneezy

Dwarf 7
Bashful

Dwarf 5
Sleepy

Dwarf 1
Grumpy

Dwarf 2
Dopey

Dwarf 3
Happy

Dwarf 4
Doc

Jason Schultz, keeper of Magic Kingdom Chronicles here on MousePlanet, provides us a historical background on the statuettes: 

The figures were sculpted in Italian marble and were put into place in 1961. Some say that they were an anonymous gift, while others contend that they know who donated them. Regardless, the figures were all the same height, presenting a problem when they were to be installed in Disneyland. 

John Hench was responsible for the design of the area.  His artwork for the Grotto was exhibited in the inaugural Disney Gallery exhibit.

Since Snow White's statue was roughly the same size as the dwarves, a visual effect called "forced perspective" was used. Major elements of the scene were scaled and angled to give the illusion of distance and height. When you view the scene from the wishing well, you "see" Snow White in perfect princess height way up on the crest of the waterfall.

Dreams
Plaque on Cinderella's Wishing Well: Your wishes will help the Dreams of Children come true. The fountains are a great place to make a heartfelt wish and drop a coin into the well.

Kevin Yee, who maintained Cast Place here on MousePlanet, answers the question, "Where does the wishing well money go?"

It goes to childrenās charities. Originally, it was put into a trust established between Disneyland and the Variety Clubs International, to go to such places as orphanages, schools and childrenās homes. 

The trust was terminated in 1972 when federal regulations restricted contributions to foreign charities, and now it goes to domestic childrenās charities.

So not only will your wish come true, but your coins will help make the wishes of children come true too.

Snow White's Wishing Well
Snow White's Wishing Well at Disneyland.

Another View, Cinderella's Wishing Well
Cinderella's Wishing Well at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

-

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the founding members of MousePlanet, Inc., Karl Buiter is now a contributing writer. He lives in Las Vegas, NV, and is a software developer with an interest in monorails.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Karl here.

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