Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Quaint Little Church of Storybook Land

"There's nothing quite like messing about in boats," according to Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, and anyone who cruises the Storybook Land canal in Disneyland is in for a special treat. The castles, villages, and hammy hamlets that lie along the river's edge are miniature masterpieces of the highest order.  

1955: The church was constructed at the Disney Studio in Burbank.

Often overlooked and under appreciated, the stone chapel of "Alice's Village" is one of the finest buildings created for the attraction—and it's also one of the largest, despite being scaled one inch to the foot.

Scenic artists Frank Armitage (L) and Walt Perigoy choose colors for the church.

Layout for the  "Alice in Wonderland" setting of Storybook Land.

Hardly noticeable are the tiny sculpted gargoyles that adorn the tower.
 The church is made of marine plywood and redwood, covered in fiberglass.  Metal flashings were used for the foundation to resist rot, and the building has openings so that air can circulate through to prevent mildew.

The left and right sides of the shingled tower roof.
The elaborate stained glass is authentic and soldered by hand.
It was designed by Frank Armitage, and leaded together by Harriet Burns. 
Barely visible here is the tiny graveyard with headstones and crosses.
The right side...
...and the barely-seen rear!
The show script, as recited by our boat's human guide, informs us that Alice lives in the little thatched house situated between the church and the rabbit hole.  It's not difficult to imagine a tiny girl hurrying upon the tree-shaded path, in pursuit of a mysterious white rabbit.

Alice's church in 2006.


photowannabe said...

Thank you for this fascinating information. Now I can't wait to go back and visit the Storybook ride again.

tom margarites said...

Storybook Land has always been one of my very favorite attractions.It's particularly awesome viewed from Casey Train...Anyhoo...I live for this kind of stuff. Thanks for posting this great article and photos!

Bryan said...

A question unrelated to this particular post...I just bought the Pinocchio felt ornaments produced in 2005 for the 65th anniversary. The Disney card attributes the design to Kevin. Your portfolio page attributes the deign to Jody. I know, I are both geniuses and inseparable at the hip...but for my records, who designed them. Disney also gives Jody credit for the Pinocchio Pleasure Island pewter figures from the same time period. Is that correct? Finally, could you design some more amazing Pinole stuff? Please?

Kevin Kidney said...

Hi Bryan, Jody designed both the Pinocchio felt ornaments and the Pinocchio Pewter set. We'd love to do more items based on the film! Maybe someday... -Kevin

Bryan said...

Thanks for the reply, Kevin. It's most appreciated.

HBG2 said...

Very late to the party, but thank you. By far my favorite SL piece, and interesting in that there is no corollary to it in either Lewis's original stories or the 1951 Disney version of Alice. Someone just wanted to do a classic, English country church, and good on 'em. Nice to know some of the names involved, too.

WaltsMusic said...

Great article on the church construction! Thanks Kevin. Now if I could only sneak in a miniature Greyfriars Bobby guarding his master's grave in there ;-)