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Fridays with Jim Korkis: The Chronicles of Narnia



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

By Jim Korkis

The Chronicles of Narnia, a book series written by C.S. Lewis, was adapted into a Disney film in 2005, co-produced with Walden Media.

The story focuses on the four British Pevensie siblings (Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter), who enter into the fantastical world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of hide-and-seek. They ally themselves with the lion Aslan, the rightful ruler of the land, against the forces of the White Witch who has placed Narnia in an eternal winter.

The film was released on December 9, 2005 and made over $745 million worldwide. This result encouraged Disney to make a sequel, Prince Caspian  (2008) with the same cast. Disney had hoped that the films would spark a profitable franchise but when the second film did well but not as well as the first film, Disney stopped further participation.

To help promote the first film, the then Disney MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) showcased a fifteen minute walk-through attraction entitled “Journey Into Narnia: The Making of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” on Soundstage 4. It operated from December 9, 2005, to January 1, 2008 when it was replaced by a new walk-through attraction June 27, 2008 promoting Prince Caspian, lasting until September 10, 2011.

Previously, Soundstage 4 had showcased an exhibit devoted the live action 101 Dalmatians (1996 -2002) and later the making of the Haunted Mansion movie (2003). After the Narnia exhibits, it was converted into “The Legend of Jack Sparrow” in December 2012—which lasted until November 6, 2014.

Guests were led into an antechamber with an ornate Wardrobe prop “entrance.” A wardrobe is a tall cabinet for the storage of clothing. The audience was then led through the wardrobe doors into a large room adorned with flocked pine trees, a lamppost, a large tree illuminated with fiber optics, and a large (150″) projection television screen.

The screen displayed a greatly abridged version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. At a key point in the four-minute version of the 143-minute movie, the White Witch appeared on a terrace ledge above the crowd and read a few lines from the film telling her subjects to kill any humans. The abbreviated version of the film then continued on the screen, leading into a short preview of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,

Imagineer Theron Skees, who worked on designing the attraction, stated at its opening, “the oversized wardrobe is one of the most dramatic aspects of the new attraction and really helps guests beocme immersed in the film’s magic.

“When you go into the soundstage, you see this oversized wardrobe which gives you the feeling that you’re a child’s size. Then you walk through the wardrobe and find yourself in this frozen forest. It’s quite stunning.

“One of the coolest things that we’re going to have on display is the White Witch’s sleigh, where you first see her in the movie. Guests are so interested in how epic films like this are made, so being able to show them how this happens is a really great thing for Imagineering and the Disney MGM Studios.

“Guests can explore props, costumes and snowy sets from the film including the White Witch’s costume, her magic wand, storyboards, frozen ‘ice’ figures (a dwarf, faun & satyr) and weaponry used in the film’s fight sequences.”

Other items included a clay maquette of the minotaur and Lucy’s costume. When guests left the attraction, faux snow fell–supposedly a final failed attempt by the White Witch.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! and come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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