November 21, 2012

Pinocchio's Daring Journey in 1983

Pinocchio's Daring Journey opened in Disneyland as part of the massive Fantasyland remodel in 1983. Then and now, guests encounter a bit of foreshadowing as they enter the queue and pass this deceptive, cheerful poster for Stromboli's show.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Stromboli
The above image is from this past summer, but all the following photos are from my family's first trip to "New Fantasyland" in the summer of 1983.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Stromboli
Ride vehicles designed to look hand-carved by Geppetto begin the journey by entering Stromboli's Theater. Guests have about two seconds to watch Pinocchio on stage before veering to the right as "Something Goes Terribly Wrong."

Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Stromboli doors
This set of doors is possibly my favorite thing on the whole ride, just for the awesome contrast with the poster in the queue. This theme of happy promises masking dark intentions defines the entire ride. By the way, I apologize for my 1983 camera's inability to capture the black light beauty of all these sets. I should have bought a better camera, but I spent my money on a Walkman.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Stromboli
We're in trouble, now.

Locked in a huge cage, we escape with the help of the Blue Fairy. In a neat bit of storytelling detail, we see another poster for Stromboli's show -- this one faded almost to nothingness -- on a moonlit village wall. I'm certain that we've learned our lesson, and we'll listen to Jiminy Cricket and go hang out with nice characters from now on...
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland John Gideon
...or not. Now the bad kids turn into donkeys and the Evil Coachman tries to ship us to the salt mines, but we escape (no thanks to Jiminy's useless directions) and arrive on a rocky shoreline to face the adventure's biggest terror. Here it comes...my camera's ready....
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Monstro
I am so sorry.

Jiminy finally guides us home to Geppetto's workshop, where we watch the Blue Fairy bring Pinocchio back to life...but he's still a puppet. He's still a puppet, yet Jiminy still gets a gold badge at the end of the ride?!?

Pinocchio's Daring Journey has not changed much at all since its first summer; it's just as dark, unsettling and wonderful as it's always been. The mellow ending full of ticking cuckoo clocks and a warm, crackling fireplace (and an undeservedly rewarded cricket) stands apart from the louder, crazier endings of the other Fantasyland dark rides (which bid you goodbye with falling rocks, exploding cakes, screaming pirates and a trip to hell).

More Disneyland 1983 coming soon!

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