Ten Things You May Not Know About Alice in Wonderland
1. The Disney animated classic Alice in Wonderland was released in 1951, but Walt Disney’s interest in Alice went all the way back to 1923. That’s when Walt created an animated short called Alice’s Wonderland. The film combined live action with animation, and though not an immediate success, it led to the production of over fifty shorts known as the Alice Comedies in the mid 1920s.
2. Even though Walt Disney entertained the idea of Alice being his first full-length motion picture, the challenge of bringing Alice to the big screen (as well as other factors) delayed the release of the film until 1951. During that time, the story went through countless changes, but despite the massive effort, the film was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. Walt Disney would later summarize the film’s problems by saying that Alice had no heart.
3. Alice in Wonderland is of course based on the Lewis Carroll book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland“ published in 1865. The film also featured segments from “Through the Looking Glass.” Carroll’s original story was inspired by a boat ride that he took with Reverand Robinson Duckworth and sisters Lorina, Alice, and Edit Liddell. During the trip, Carroll created the story of Alice and her adventures. The real life Alice was so entranced by the tale that she asked Carroll to write it down.
4. Curiously, Carroll’s original book suffered the same fate as the Disney film. Upon its release, the book wasn’t included in an 1888 poll of popular children’s stories, and the illustrations actually garnered more praise than the story.
5. Though Carroll (whose real name was Charles Dodgson) maintained that Alice wasn’t based on anyone in particular, it’s always been assumed that Alice Liddell was his inspiration. Indeed, the story takes place on May 4th, which was Alice Liddell’s birthday. Carroll dedicated the book and its sequel to the real life Alice, and in “Through the Looking-Glass” there’s even a poem that’s an acrostic for “Alice Pleasance Liddell,” meaning that the first letters of each line spell out Alice’s name when read downward. The poem begins: A boat beneath a sunny sky, / Lingering onward dreamily / In an evening of July–
6. For the Disney film, the voice of Alice was performed by English actress Kathryn Beaumont, who also served as a live action model for the animators. She also provided the voice for Wendy in the 1953 Disney classic Peter Pan.
7. Even though Alice is not an official Disney Princess, she has occasionally been included in various pieces of Princess artwork and was part of the Disney Princess video It’s Not Just Make Believe.
8. While the film is represented in the Magic Kingdom by the Mad Tea Party, you’ll have to go to Disneyland in California to find Alice herself. There you can join Alice and friends in the Fantasyland dark ride, Alice in Wonderland. In 1983, the attraction was updated as part of the Fantasyland expansion, with a new narration provided by none other than Kathryn Beaumont herself!
9. Alice made a modern-day reappearance in the 2010 film version of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. The part of Alice was played by Mia Wasikowska. In the new film, Alice is now nineteen years old, returning to Wonderland after thirteen years.
10. At least that’s the story line according to the film. In actual fact, in Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass,” Alice declared that she was “seven and a half exactly”, which would make her at least 20 years old if she indeed returned thirteen years later. The age discrepancy can be chalked up to artistic license, considering that the original Disney film gave her the appearance of a ten or eleven year old, even though she was actually younger in the book.