Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Project Disneyland - The Making of the Original "Snow White's Adventures" Queue Mural, 1955-1981

1From guest contributor Kurt Raymond, the focus of this essay is on the original Disneyland attraction mural and it's obvious adaptation from various pre-1955 Disney 'Snow White' artwork.
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[CLICK IMAGES FOR A MUCH BETTER LOOK]

SNOW WHITE AND HER ADVENTURES, 1955.
(NOTE THE WOMAN WITH THE SIAMESE CATS SKIRT FROM LADY AND THE TRAMP WHICH HAD PREMIERED EARLIER THAT YEAR.)


Mural Scenes...

The original mural for Disneyland's Snow White Adventure's attraction was divided into four sections. These were meant to represent the seven major scenes encountered by guests inside--Diamond Mine, Quaint Forest, Dwarfs' Cottage, Queen's Vultures, Witch Stirring Her Cauldron, Haunted Forest, and Witch Boulder.

The Cast Portrait, which included all the characters from the film, was also part of the mural design even though key players did not actually show themselves in the ride. Except for an occasional early appearance by the Dwarfs, this was in all honesty, the Wicked Witch's attraction and hers alone.

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Fairytale Village and the "Scary" Adventures...

During the planning and construction of Disneyland Park in 1954, the original concept for Fantasyland, according to Disneyland lore, was to create a 'fairytale village'. But because the funds were not available, Walt Disney himself chose instead to have large, colorful murals of his famous film characters as a preview for each attraction's queue.

Yet, the word from inside sources over the last 25 years is that this 'village' was NEVER actually brought up in the Disneyland plans except in pre-concept art. So this idea that it wasn't built due to lack of funds was probably just something conjured up by Disneyland's publicity department during the 1982 renovation in order to stave off public/fan disappointment while the entire land would be shut down for more than a year to finally construct it

MINE CAR EXITS DISNEYLAND'S SNOW WHITE'S ADVENTURES WITH VIEW OF WITCH BOULDER MURAL, AUGUST 1958.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NICK DEWOLF ARCHIVE. USED WITH PERMISSION.


Each of the three Fantasyland dark rides (Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Adventures and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) would all feature a similar wall mural (with a 'cast portrait' centerpiece) telling the 'story' of the attraction as a teaser to what guests would find inside. (Alice in Wonderland's attraction was planned but would not be built until a few years later. It's the only dark ride who's unusual queue did not call for a mural.)

As mentioned, the Snow White mural included the cast of characters portrait, but the majority of the wall depicted the Wicked Witch and her frightening machinations. This contributed to the ride's reputation of being the 'scariest one of all'--yet it would be another 23 years before a sign was actually posted at the entrance as a warning to would-be-riders (see earlier post, Beware The Wicked Witch).

The whole "scary" issue surrounding the ride stemmed partly from the fact that guests were suddenly thrust into the role of Snow White--as they rode through the attraction, they were supposed to be the princess. The idea was confusing, sometimes traumatizing to little kids, and inevitably led to the questions of, "Where's Snow White?" With the many appearances of "Her Poison-Ness" the Witch, the ride's reputation as "scary" continued for 27 years (and was repeated at three of the four other Disney theme parks worldwide) until things changed with the Fantasyland overhaul of 1981-83.

Beginning around 1971-72, however, the individual "C" tickets for the attraction did caution guests to its scary nature.

SNOW WHITE'S ADVENTURES (SCARY) "C" TICKET, CIRCA 1977.

SNOW WHITE MURAL LIT UP AT DUSK, 1973. PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN.

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Making of the Mural...

Animator/imagineer Ken Anderson was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Snow White attraction. In addition to helping design the ride itself, he was also called upon to rough sketch the initial artwork for these enormous mural images.

KEN ANDERSON'S ORIGINAL SEPIA PENCIL SKETCH OF THE SNOW WHITE MURAL, 1955.





Anderson's pencil sketches were traced onto illustration board, re-adapted and 'Disneyfied' by artist Paul Hartley, then painted in full color. This work was initially created in two separate pieces. (shown below). Seen in high-resolution, Hartley's Snow White mural art is extraordinary in the amount of lavish detail it possesses. These black and white photos were taken when the work was still freshly painted and on rollers at the Disney Studio. The art itself is in color and was auctioned or sold to collectors in pieces many years ago.


PAUL HARTLEY'S MURAL RENDITION IN TWO PIECES.





IMAGES OF HARTLEY'S MURAL ART WHILE STILL AT THE DISNEY STUDIO, 1955.


The Hartley illustration boards were then taken to the theme park. The images were projected onto four large canvas panels where several artists working together traced, painted, and re-'Disneyfied' the mural art.

ARTIST PAINTING DWARFS' COTTAGE. SCREENGRABS FROM THE 1955 TELEVISION EPISODE, DISNEYLAND PRE-OPENING REPORT.

Introduced by Walt Disney and narrated by Winston Hibler, the Pre-Opening Report episode of the Disneyland television show is a fascinating look back at the final stage of park construction. The program is now posted online in three parts (1, 2, 3) by Disneyland enthusiast Sam Towler. Sam uploaded the clips from an old VHS copy he'd recorded off the Disney Channel many years ago

In the video excerpt below, we see a few short sequences featuring the Fantasyland dark rides including a glimpse of the mural projection for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. There is also a quick shot, without out any commentary, of an artist painting the Dwarf's Cottage portion of the Snow White mural. The program aired once on ABC, Wednesday, July 13th, 1955, just days before the grand opening of the park.

video
EXCERPT OF LONGER CLIP ORIGINALLY POSTED AT STNAUTILUS.
VIDEO COPYRIGHT DISNEY.


Once painted, the sections of canvas were permanently glued to the attraction's 40' x 8' outer wall. Additional painting was completed as necessary then a final seal of lacquer was applied for a shiny finish and to protect against fading from sunlight. (Fading was a reoccurring problem and the reason why the murals had to be repainted so frequently).

The seams where the canvas panels came together on the wall were hidden by the artist's paint brush. The image below reveals one such seam running down the middle of the tree. The trunk was painted black to help hide this detail.

LIGHT REFLECTING ON WALL REVEALS SEAM DOWN MIDDLE OF TREE. IMAGE COURTESY OF 
DAVE DECARO VIA DAVELAND. USED WITH PERMISSION.

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RECAP: STEPS IN CREATING A FANTASYLAND MURAL...

1). KEN ANDERSON DRAWS A SEPIA PENCIL SKETCH OF ENTIRE MURAL.
2). PAUL HARTLEY TRACES AND PAINTS IT IN COLOR ONTO TWO ILLUSTRATION BOARDS.
3). HARTLEY'S WORK IS TAKEN TO THE PARK WHERE IT'S PROJECTED ONTO 4 CANVAS PANELS.
4). SEVERAL ARTISTS WORKING TOGETHER TRACE AND PAINT THE ARTWORK FOR SPEEDIER INSTALLATION.
5). CHARACTERS ARE "RE-DISNEYFIED" FOR MAXIMUM GUEST RECOGNITION.
6). CANVAS SECTIONS ARE GLUED TO THE ATTRACTION'S 40' X 8' OUTER WALL AND ADDITIONAL PAINTING.
7). WALL IS SEALED WITH LACQUER FOR A SHINY FINISH AND TO PROTECT AGAINST FADING.

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Below, we'll examine the mural sections in more photographic detail.


Dwarfs' Mine and Cottage...

MINE CARS PASS THE DWARFS' MURAL AS THEY'RE ABOUT TO ENTER THE ATTRACTION, AUGUST 1958.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NICK DEWOLF ARCHIVE. USED WITH PERMISSION.


KEN ANDERSON'S ORIGINAL 1954 DWARFS' COTTAGE PAINTING, 14 X 18 TEMPERA ON BOARD.


KEN ANDERSON AND RALPH HULETT OVERSEE DESIGNS FOR SNOW WHITE AND PETER PAN.
NOTE VULTURE MURAL ART ON FLOOR NEXT TO HULETT, MARCH, 1955.



COMPARISON: ARTWORK FEATURED IN THE 1956 MICKEY MOUSE CLUB MAGAZINE IS SAME CONCEPT ART
THAT WAS CREATED FOR THE DWARFS' MINE SECTION OF THE MURAL, 1955.


CLOSE-UP OF THE MURAL'S DIAMOND MINE ARTWORK AS USED IN A 1956 DISNEYLAND STAMP BOOK.


The Operator Control Panel for each of the Fantasyland dark rides used to be situated right along the front of the murals. During refurbs in the 1970's, the artists would paint over the face of these to help blend them in more with the background. The control panel for Peter Pan's Flight is seen below, circa late 1960's and again in 1979. Note that in the first shot, it's a plain yellow, but by the end of the next decade, it had "grown" leaves to match the mural.


PETER PAN PAINTED CONTROL PANEL, LATE 1960S AND 1979.

The control panel for the Snow White attraction was located in front of the Dwarf's Mine section of the mural. In the photo below from October 1979, this young boy is about to embark on the ride. Behind him we can see the control panel is painted with a 'rocky' motif to match the mural.

"READY TO ROLL" ON SWSA, 1979. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE KOZY SHACK. USED WITH PERMISSION.


In the series of images below, we see guests on the Snow White ride passing by the Control Panel Operator as they enter the Diamond Mine. Screengrabs from the 1980 8mm film, A Day At Disneyland.

SWSA SCREENGRABS FROM A DAY AT DISNEYLAND, 1980.

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Cast Portrait...
Based on the original 1937 Gustaf Tenngren promotional art, the cast portrait featured all of the Snow White characters, including the forest animals, as if posing for a group picture. This portion of the mural was in part a cause of complaint for parents who felt it misrepresentative--leading them to believe the ride was suitable for their little ones. Did they not notice the Vultures and other Witch-related images surrounding it?

Every few years, the murals were repainted to retain their bright colors and stave off fading. During each update, however, the artists would make minor changes--to faces, clothing colors, backgrounds. As a result, the characters ended up being transformed to such an extent that by the time of the 1981 ride closure, they no longer looked like their original selves.


The Disney Company still retains the original "cast" artwork for at least two of the 1955 Fantasyland dark rides. In addition to releasing high-quality prints--during the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland--of the original Ken Anderson panoramic sketches of both Snow White and Toad, they also released prints of animator/imagineer Bill Justice's 1976 revised Mr. Toad's Wild Ride 'cast portrait' mural and the 1983 Peter Pan's Flight re-do mural.

The Snow White art has turned up in a few retail items including a collector trinket box from the 1990's and in a set of 2003 Disney Classic Movie trading cards by Artbox.

CAST PORTRAIT FROM SNOW WHITE TRINKET BOX, CIRCA 1995.

CAST PORTRAIT FROM ARTBOX TRADING CARD SET, 2003.


In 1976, Disney animator and imagineer Bill Justice was called upon to create three new Cast Portrait paintings based on each of the original dark rides. The Snow White design was used a few years ago in a poster advertising the 25th Anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland's Fantasyland in 2008

BILL JUSTICE ART FEATURED ON 25TH ANNIVERSARY TOKYO DISNEYLAND POSTER, 2008.


When Fantasyland re-opened in 1983, the mural was gone. Pinocchio's Daring Journey and the adjoining Village Haus Restaurant took up a lot of space, and as a result, Snow White ended up with a smaller queue area. Yet if we look at the 1992 Disneyland Paris incarnation, we see that the 'cast portrait' there is precisely what Disneyland's would have been if they had room.

As with the original, the DLP queue mural is patterned after Tenggren's promotional 'portrait' art. This time, however, it's the reversed image that was used in the 1937 one sheet movie poster, updated to today's 'on-model' Disney look.

CURRENT DISNEYLAND PARIS SNOW WHITE CAST PORTRAIT

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Witch Stirring Her Cauldron...

This section of the mural featured the Witch in her dungeon stirring her cauldron with a bone. The artwork was clearly adapted from another of Gustaf Tenggren's original publicity sketches and also from art found in the 1948 Little Golden Book (see images below).

It's interesting to note that this particular scene, with the Witch flopped in her original opposite-facing direction, was deleted by Walt Disney from the final 1937 release print of the film. However, that did not stop the Disney artists from continuing to use it in storybooks, tins, and this mural.

DELETED CAULDRON SCENE. IMAGE COPYRIGHT DISNEY VIA THE DISNEY WIKI.


Note: The following Cauldron images have been flopped by the author from their original left-facing direction for ease of comparison with the mural's right-facing Witch.



ABOVE: WITCH AT CAULDRON 1937, 1948, 1956 COMPARISON.


ROMA TEA TIN, 1938.

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Witch Boulder...

In the mid-1960's, the Witch underwent some facial reconstruction in both the mural's Cauldron scene (above) and in the Boulder scene as well.

KEN ANDERSON'S ORIGINAL WITCH ON PRECIPICE CONCEPT ART, 20 X 25 TEMPERA ON BOARD, 1954.



COMPARISON: ORIGINAL BOULDER ART 1955, ACTUAL WALL 1958, SCREENGRAB OF SCENE 1980.

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Black Lights and Re-Paint...

CLOSE UP: FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ABOVE MURAL.

Around 1970, black light paint was beginning to be applied to various 'action scenes' in the attraction murals to highlight the characters under the fluorescent lighting (embedded in the wooden beams above the queue areas). The Witch's eyes (on both the interior figures and on the mural) were repainted bright red and her eyebrows white. She also now sported a very sharp, shark-like bottom tooth.

In the 'cast portrait', the Witch's skin color was always a light gray, with black, light-reflected eyes. This color scheme remained consistent throughout the entire 1955-1981 time span of the mural. However, when it came to the Cauldron and Boulder scenes, the Disney artists created a bit of an inconsistency in terms of the her skin color and facial design. At her cauldron, she initially had a flesh tone painted face and bluish arms, but with multiple repaints, her face and arms ended up going through numerous changes of sickly shades of green.

WITCH REPAINT, 1955 AND 1981

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Demolition and The Story of the Witch "Artifact"...

In late 1981 and early '82, the dark ride facades and their murals were demolished for what was to make way for a new, more improved Fantasyland. Jason of Disneyland Nomenclature graciously lent this fantastic image showing the December '81 destruction of the original Snow White attraction. To the right, you can see where the mural canvas threads are just hanging there after being torn through the plywood wall. The Witch's boulder scene is nearly completely gone in a mess on the ground, and the exit has lost its crash doors to the far right. The interior of the attraction is shown as nothing more than debris.

This photo was taken just a day or so before the construction worker cut the Cauldron Witch canvas "artifact" off the wall. See story below.

DEMOLITION OF THE CAULDRON MURAL DECEMBER, 1981. 
IMAGE COURTESY OF DISNEYLAND NOMENCLATURE. USED WITH PERMISSION.


As a Snow White and 'Original Fantasyland' collector for nearly 30 years, I have found it to be rather tough obtaining clear photographs of Disneyland's dark ride murals. But my luck changed on this very blog just about one year ago.

A little publicized event in early 2010 promised a look at a "rare artifact" from the original Snow White ride. The event came and went and Robert, the creator of Filmic Light, was sent a clear photo by the event's organizer of just what this "artifact" was. It turned out to be the Cauldron Witch canvas, thought destroyed in the Fantasyland demolition all these years. (Read how the mural piece was saved in the earlier Artifact Update post from May of 2010.)

This was the missing piece, my favorite portion of the original Snow White ride mural. I was more than pleasantly surprised that someone had actually saved it from destruction.

WITCH CAULDRON PIECE FROM GHOULA'S 2010 SNOW WHITE EVENT.

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Post Fantasyland Renovation...

I visited Disneyland shortly after the 1983 New Fantasyland opened. I was shocked at how much the queues and buildings had changed, and I was excited as I walked through the courtyard and saw the Wicked Queen's castle facade that was now the new Snow White's Scary Adventures entrance. Since I knew the original queue like the back of my hand, my family and I walked right up, and I began studying everything about the new version--the entrance, the dungeons, the enlarged Dwarfs' cottage. However, the loss of the original murals was most disappointing to me. There were none except for the Happily Ever After book and the painting of Snow White, Dwarfs and Prince waving goodbye at the exit.

Gone were the Wicked Witch paintings, replaced with the in-the-round Dwarfs' cottage, which I felt was unnecessary and didn't make sense with the rest of the castle exterior. I thought, "Why is the cottage here?"

It wasn't until years later that I learned the answer. Imagineer Tony Baxter had simply run out of room. As mentioned earlier, Pinocchio's Daring Journey and the adjoining Village Haus Restaurant swallowed up space that could have been used by the Snow White attraction. The designers had no choice but to put the tiny cast "goodbye mural" at the back exit area as a last minute decision because, well, they had no interior ending to the ride. They thought patrons would feel cheated--unfortunately an issue that still exists to this day.

The Witch from Tenggren's poster art did reappear again on a mural within the park. Between approximately 1998-2004, she was on the wall above the entrance to the Villain's Lair shop, almost directly across from SWSA attraction. (View the image in earlier Villain's Lair Witch post).
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Written and researched by guest contributor Kurt Raymond. All image scans courtesy of The Raymond Collection unless otherwise noted. Acknowledgments include Dave DeCaro and his Daveland/Disneyland site, Jason at Disneyland Nomenclature, and Robert from this here Filmic Light.

14 comments:

  1. Excellent post! I loved those murals AND the original Fantasyland. I do like the facades from the 1980's redo, but I wish those murals had been preserved. The new attraction's ending has bothered me from day one! Oh, and why is Pinocchio still a wooden boy at the end of his attraction? I know, I know, the story has been "re-imagined" for the ride.

    I believe the company's employees will say whatever it takes to paint a positive image of themselves and keep the public from blaming them for destroying the childhood memories of millions. But hey...I'm not bitter!

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  2. AMAZING POST!!! I promise that on my next trip to the Park I'll take those pictures you requested.

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  3. Woah, the witch in the 1954 Ken Anderson's original "Witch on Precipice" looks absolutely ghoulish! Very creepy!

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  4. Totally great (well researched & written) post. Love seeing old black & white photos of theme park attractions.

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  5. Absolutely fantastic. this level of detail is a park lover's dream. That's why I love this site.

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  6. As everyone above has said: a great post showing diligent, painstaking research and providing a fascinating insight into one of the treasures of Fantasyland. Thank you.

    I find it interesting that the first mural (especially the rocky landscape around the Witch's demise) has a style less in keeping with the original film than with the Eyvind Earl environments later seen in 'Sleeping Beauty'.

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  7. Great, very thorough analysis of the older facade. And very beautiful images!

    Mr. Sibley is absolutely right about the Sleeping Beauty style. Let's not forget that Ken Anderson also worked on Sleeping Beauty's (1959) art direction, and reportedly, was one the few people who liked working with Earl.

    Of this magnificent Filmic Light / Kurt Raymond post I'd like to point out one slight detail:

    "When Fantasyland re-opened in 1983, the mural was gone. Pinocchio's Daring Journey and the adjoining Village Haus Restaurant took up a lot of space, and as a result, Snow White ended up with a smaller queue area. Yet if we look at the 1992 Disneyland Paris incarnation, we see that the 'cast portrait' there is precisely what Disneyland's would have been if they had room."

    DLP's version of the queue/loading area features significantly different, much smaller cottage that gives room to the forest decoration with the cast portrait. I don't believe that the DLP queue area would be significantly bigger. The ride's slight extension for DLP - the Happy End - has very little to do with the queue/load/unload area.

    :) KEN

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  8. PS. I never found the DLP "Beware the Witch" sign from my Paris videos, although I could swear that the sign has been at the attraction entrance during the 1990s or early 2000s.

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  9. What a fantastic history of the mural - outstanding job!

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  10. Tokyo and George-- Thanks. Kurt's the man! He knows his stuff when it comes to Snow White's Scary Adventures and anything to do with the Old Witch.

    Connie-- Thank you. Looking forward to the images. But no hurry, just whenever it's convenient for you.

    Sheryl-- You're right on. I love that Ken Anderson artwork :)

    Tony-- Certain attractions just seem to have so few good old photos that it's always a treat when new "old" ones surface.

    Shane-- I say the same about your blog. I dig the details.

    Brian-- Terrific observation! You can't go wrong when emulating Eyvind Earl's work.

    Ken-- Great to hear from you and thanks for the clarification on the DLP attraction. As I've never had the opportunity yet to visit that park (and I don't think Kurt has yet either), your insights are appreciated. If you do come across anything on the "Beware of Witch" signage, let me know.

    Dave-- Much appreciated and thank you for letting us use a piece from your photographic archive. Invaluable!

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  11. Hi everyone - Kurt here....

    I want to say a big THANK YOU to all who have posted comments as well.

    Tokyo and George - thanks so much - Tokyo, I look at your blog all the time and learn so many things from it every week. I was at the park yesterday and members of my group asked me why Pinocchio was still wooden at the end of the "Journey", too!

    Connie - I always appreciate your kind words, and love seeing your comments when you learn something new and vintage Disneyland on Dave(Lands) blog! A true Disney fan never stops learning.

    Sheryl - The Ken A. Snow Witch IS ghoulish, and very green - I wonder if that art helped the muralists later when they decided to repaint her green in the late 70's.

    Tony - I am so glad you like the photos, and though for this attraction they are hard to come by, it's nice when we get the opportunity to post a couple here and there when the subject permits.

    Shane - Took a look at your Parkeology blog today, good reading and now bookmarked!

    Brian - What a pleasure to get a comment from you, as I am and have been a BIG fan of your work since your "Making Of Snow White" book was published in the 80's, I cannot tell you how many times I have used it for reference, and to this day, it still sits proudly on my coffee table. Yes, the Sleeping Beauty' similarities are astonishing and the fact that the 1959 film was in a deep stage at this period while the Fantasyland murals were being designed HAD to be a factor in why the trees and rocks are so reminiscent of SB.

    Ken - Always good to hear from you, as you were one of the first people that REALLY got me going to get all my SW stuff scanned and put into organization and published for all SW and Disneyland fans, and also for your history making "Snow White" site - I have appreciated working with you on that. And, regarding the DLP queue - Disneyland's version is still so much smaller than Paris, in both building size and queue area, but Paris had the room and the luxury to do/build everything in the attraction needed to make it whole.

    Dave - What else can I say but a HUGE thank you, because you also helped me make this particular essay a reality (both in photos and text), and really got the ball started 6 months ago when you published my 'restoration of the mural' photos.

    Robert - And, you Mr. Filmic Light, you really did an incredible job putting all my photos and jibberish into one cohesive piece. Thanks for your patience, wisdom, knowledge and ideas to help make this piece a reality.

    Kurt Raymond

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  12. I hadn't seen this post before I love the Wich at the Cauldron sequence deleted from the original movie!

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    1. This was a well done post by guest contributor Kurt Raymond. He's also a huge fan of the Witch.

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