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Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” exhibit gets ready to wander the globe

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Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” exhibit gets ready to wander the globe

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Don’t despair if you weren’t actually able to make it down to San Diego to experience the craziness that was Comic-Con International 2009. For one of the more spectacular exhibits from this year’s show is actually getting ready to hit the road.

 Disney's Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
The sign that covered the exterior of the building that housed Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" touring exhibit.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

That’s right. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” touring exhibit – featuring 40 props & 5 costumes from this new Tim Burton film – is (even as you read this) being carefully packed up so that it can then be sent out on the road.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
Down the rabbit hole you go as you enter this touring exhibit's gallery space.
Photo by Shelly Smith

Though the Mouse is currently being cagey when it comes to details (i.e. the exact dates when this touring exhibit will open to the public, the particular venues that this “Alice in Wonderland” display will be set up in, etc.), a Company insider was kind enough to clue me in as to what the big picture here is.

Disneys Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
The table's all set for the Mad Hatter's next tea party.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” touring exhibit will be bopping around the globe for the next six months. Current plans call for stops in Toronto, London, Berlin, Deville, Madrid as well as a yet-to-be-named city in Japan. And given how popular this display proved to be at Comic-Con, Mickey's marketeers are now reportedly seeing if adding a stop in Anaheim to "Alice" 's international itinerary might be possible. So that all of these props & costumes could then be seen by attendees at the very first D23 Expo.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
The Red Queen's costume.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Given the effort involved in setting up this elaborate display (i.e. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” touring exhibit takes three days to install and a day & a half to strike), you shouldn’t plan on this display lingering all that long should it suddenly appear in your neck of the woods. But if you’re an “Alice in Wonderland” fan, then you truly owe to yourself to check out this traveling exhibit so that you can view Colleen Atwood’s costume designs up close.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
Colleen Atwood's original sketch for the Red Queen's costume.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or – better yet – check out the descriptions that accompany many of the props on display. Which suggest that Tim Burton really has something interesting planned for Lewis Carroll’s classic characters.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Traveling Exhibit
This over-sized Alice shows the way to the exit in this touring exhibit.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Case in point: The armor that Alice will wear as the chosen one, a warrior who will rise up to wield the Vorpal Sword against the monstrous Jabberwock.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland
Alice's suit of armor.
Photo by Shelly Smith

 Or – better yet – the Mad Hatter’s sword. Which – according to the description right next to this prop – Johnny Depp will wield as his character …

Disney's Alice in Wonderland 
The Vorpal Sword. Photo by Nancy Stadler

"… stand side by side with Alice in the final battle for Wonderland."

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Movie
A model of the Red Queen's throne room.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Now I know that some of the plot points revealed in this exhibit may upset the “Alice” purists out there. But know this: When Tim spoke with the press on Thursday about how his version of “Alice in Wonderland” was going to be different from all the movies & the TV adaptations that have proceed it, Burton talked about how he wanted to emotionally ground Carroll’s story. Not just make yet another version of this story that was just made up of disjointed scenes featuring lots of crazy characters.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
The full-sized version of the Red Queen's throne.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

And having wandered through Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” touring exhibit and just been dazzled by the look & the level of detail that this film is going to have … I’m kind of inclined to give Burton the benefit of the doubt this time around. To not try & read too much into a prop description like the one found next to Alice’s shield. Which says that this item is “ … the only protection Alice will have against the Jabberwock in the film’s final battle.”

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp
The Mad Hatter's Sword and Alice's Shield.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Reading between the lines here, I’d say that we’re in for a pretty radical reimagining of this classic tale when the Disney Digital 3D version of Tim Burton’s “Alice Wonderland” rolls into theaters on March 5, 2010.

Your thoughts?

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  • That's some nice-looking armor.  Wish we could get stuff like that in RPG art and games.  =)

  • Sounds like Burton's trying to do what Walt wanted to do in HIS version of Wonderland - inject a little continuity and heart into what is, in the book, a hodge-podge of disjointed (if delightful) dream images. Walt, for one of the few times in his life, bowed under the pressure exerted on him by Wonderland purists and excised the planned hero of the movie - the White Knight - and allowed his animators to turn the movie into a loud unlovable free-for-all. Too bad. So good for Burton for recognizing that a successful Wonderland needs a coherent plot so that all the book's inventiveness doesn't get loss in the shuffle. I wish him luck and look forward to reviewing his results.

  • Gigglesock, if you're trying to adapt "Alice" you have to take the dreamlike intangibility of Carroll's text and craft it into a more traditional story with a beginning, middle, and end. Plenty of people have tried – many have failed – but why is it that with all the resources at his disposal Burton seems to be treading over familiar ground? Having the chosen one returning to her kingdom for the final battle: Narnia, anyone?

    I was hoping after Burton's excellent adaptation of "Todd" that he would be willing to engage this text, not cherry-pick visuals and themes into something that is neither Burton or Carroll. It's all very curious, to say the least.

  • Is the Alice in Wonderland traveling exhibit available in September of 2017.  I have an event with over 1.3 million people in the month of September.  Kathy

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