That is right. It is the battle of the Snow White attractions! So, which ride is better: Snow White’s Scary Adventures vs. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Let’s debate!

For this debate, we will focus on the Magic Kingdom versions of the attractions. Although the other versions may have some influence on the discussion, they will not be the main focus or the subjects of the main ranking.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures

When Disneyland Park in California opened in 1955, Snow White’s Adventures was one of the original attractions. Although, it really seemed to catch guests by surprise. The ride title and queue unintentionally led riders to believe the experience would be a lighthearted Disney Princess story with cute woodland animals and peaceful songs, but that was not what they got once on board. In fact, there was such backlash from the deceptively terrifying experience that the word “scary” was added to the ticket cards immediately, and a warning sign was added outside the queue entrance. Eventually, the word “scary” was added to the official attraction title, making it Snow White’s Scary Adventures.

What made it so scary? The ride was full of darkness, creepy music, terrifying plot points, eerie animatronic figures, skeletons, and even a few jump scares. Even more confusing to guests was the fact that Snow White was never to be seen. This is because Imagineers wanted riders to feel like they were experiencing the ride as Snow White herself. However, if you are a small child not realizing this, not seeing the princess and only seeing the villain might lead to some unnerving misunderstandings of the plot.

At the Magic Kingdom, Snow White’s Adventures was once again an original attraction for the park. Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971. While October may be when Halloween occurs, we are certain that guests were still not expecting this on their first visit. Disneyland’s original version of the ride was frightening, that is for sure. However, it was basically nothing compared to the terrors that awaited guests on the East Coast.

The queue for this ride was pretty standard for Fantasyland. Most of the time, the line is vaguely themed after the film it is based on. The queue only feels immersive once guests reach the front of the line and can see the beginning of the ride. They would watch guests ahead of you board their tiny mine cart ride vehicles and travel around the first scene before going through the door to the witch’s castle. The first scene displayed the wishing well in front of the beautiful background of greenery and Snow White’s first castle. She is seen on the right side of the display, as a statue, singing to the birds. Her famous voice can be heard singing as well.

Once on board, it feels as if the cart is taking riders to the dwarf’s cottage at first, but then the cart turns toward the castle and takes them inside. The first hint of how scary the ride might be is probably when the Evil Queen can be seen peaking at riders through her top-floor window as they drive underneath and through the doors.

Guests then saw the Evil Queen looking through her magic mirror, but when she turned around, she had transformed into the ugly Old Hag! The worst part: her voice gradually changes into a shrill and terrifying shriek as she says “Magic Mirror on the wall, I AM THE FAIREST ONE OF ALL!”

The mine cart then ventured into the castle’s dungeon where skeletons who had been tortured before death, eerily remain. But, that’s not all, of course; For they then started speaking! And not in a fun, Pirates of the Caribbean way, and instead, it was in the most traumatising way imaginable. They are pleading for your help…ahhh. Then riders come upon the witch-like Old Hag poisoning the apple in her cauldron. Glass shatters loudly, seemingly on top of guests, and the witch cackles maniacally. This is the beginning of a series of unrelentingly horrifying scenes.

The Old Hag chases you on her boat with the apple for a few seconds, and the scene is complete with crocodiles attacking. Guests then proceeded to enter the dark forest where the trees moved toward them with their monster-like faces. Sound effects of screaming and wailing played during this scene too.

Thankfully, riders have now made it to the dwarf’s cottage. Surely this would be where things get less grim. But no. Inside the extremely dark cottage are furniture pieces with creepy faces comparable to the faces on the trees we just escaped from. Plus, the sound effects of screaming from the previous scene can still clearly be heard.

Finally, riders see the dwarfs trying to sneak upstairs to attack something up there. But what? Well, in the film, it turns out to be Snow White sleeping in their beds. But that was not the case for the ride. Instead, a ghostly shadow appeared from the room and made a deep moaning sound before disappearing. All of a sudden the Old Hag pops out from underneath the staircase with her poisoned apple and toothless grin. She then followed guests through the dark forest and into the mine, continually offering the apple. In the mine, she attempted to make it crash down on us.

A few more jump scares later, riders arrive in the mine vault for the final scene. The Old Hag is standing on top of the doorway, where our cart is heading. She is about to push a massive diamond, which is about the size of the giant boulder from the film, on top of guests. Riders head through the doorway, hear the Witch’s scream, and then all of a sudden, they arrive at the ride exit.

Why Did Imagineers Make It So Scary?

We cannot say for certain. But it is generally believed that Imagineer Claude Coats was behind all of it. A few years earlier, he had been working on the Haunted Mansion attraction. He was the main ring leader in the idea to make the Haunted Mansion a dark and spooky ride. However, the Marc Davis camp eventually persuaded everyone to go with a more humorous version of the attraction. So, some theorise that Coats decided to channel all that dark energy into Snow White’s Adventures instead.

In 1994, Imagineers removed some of the most horrid elements of the Magic Kingdom ride to de-intensify it for their riders. For example, the Witch’s dialogue was changed a bit to be less intimidating, Snow White was finally added a few times, and the forest scene was toned down. The singing dwarfs were added inside their cottage and the creepy ghost scene was removed. Also, a happy ending scene was added to the finale. This is also when the name was changed to “Snow White’s Scary Adventures.”

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

In March 2010, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland started undergoing major construction as part of the “New Fantasyland” project. Part of this project included plans to demolish Snow White’s Scary Adventures, replace it with Princess Fairytale Hall, and add a new ride nearby called Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This new attraction opened in May 2014 and was an immediate hit.

The queue is fully themed like the Seven Dwarfs mine, with rock and gems everywhere. Easily the best part about the newer queues in Walt Disney World is how interactive and entertaining they are. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the perfect example of this. One spot in the outdoor portion of the queue features twelve water spigots that each play a different musical note when activated. Each also lights up with a different colour as well. There was once a minigame spot where guests could use touch screens to match three of the same colour gems in a row. This has since been removed though.

One interactive spot in the indoor portion of the queue lets guests spin on seven barrels of jewels. The spinning creates a projection of one of the dwarfs on the ceiling doing a silly dance. If all seven barrels are spun, resulting in all seven dwarfs dancing on the ceiling, then Snow White also appears dancing with them on the ceiling.

Guests board the train in a mine cart that sits one or two. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a family-oriented roller coaster that travels through both indoors and outdoors. Each mine cart is somewhat independent from the rest of the train. It tilts side-to-side according to the weight of the guests and the motions of the ride itself. The tilting motion simulates what it would actually feel like to ride in a mine cart. This was brand new technology that Disney Imagineers invented and patented for this attraction specifically.

Riders are taken in and around the Seven Dwarfs’ mine. The most iconic scene occurs when guests enter the mine to see all seven men hard at work. Well, that is, except for Sleepy. This scene is absolutely gorgeous, with glowing gems surrounding riders and beautiful, high-tech animatronics of the Dwarfs. The last Dwarf to be seen is Doc, who starts the rest of them off with the song “Heigh-Ho.” The song ascends as guests do, up the big hill. Look to the left of the tracks to see the shadows of the Seven Dwarfs marching up the hill as well. The song fades out again as we go down the other side of the big hill for the grand finale.

Just before re-entering the loading dock at the end of the ride is the “Silly Song” scene to the right of guests. Snow White and the Dwarfs are celebrating and dancing inside the cottage to the same song from the film. Fun fact: most of the dwarf animatronics in this scene were recycled from Snow White’s Scary Adventures. It is a happy scene until you realize the Old Hag is secretly observing them from outside the doors. Maybe that means Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the peaceful prequel story to the terrifying Snow White’s Scary Adventures.

Scary Adventures vs. Mine Train

  • Atmosphere: The “atmosphere” category encompasses the overall feeling of the attraction based on the music, decorations, etc. and how immersive they are. This category is difficult. The tones for each attraction are vastly different. One is dark and creepy, while the other is lighthearted and fun. Both use some songs and sounds from the original film. Although, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train uses the most iconic and heartwarming. So we chose it as the winner of this category.
  • Story: The “story” category is how creative the story is? Is it interesting enough? There is a pretty vague storyline in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Even though it was scary, Snow White’s Scary Adventures had a better story.
  • Experience: For the “experience” category, we look at how people react to the attraction and whether it is generally liked. Unfortunately, this one is pretty obvious. While many might enjoy the thrill of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is far more inclusive and well-liked. And what you see, is what you get. Your children are less likely to leave this attraction traumatized.
  • Thrill: The “thrill” category is self-explanatory. Which was the most exciting? Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a roller coaster, but a pretty tame one. Snow White’s Scary Adventures was just a dark ride, but definitely more thrilling than most others. So how do we decide the winner for this category? We chose to look at the way guests felt when leaving the ride. Were their hearts pumping faster than usual? Did it catch them by surprise? Both attractions have been known to surprise guests–whether in good ways or in bad. However, when it comes to getting your heart pumping, Snow White’s Scary Adventures wins solely for its jump scares and dark tone.
  • Technology: The “technology” category covers how up-to-date and innovative the technical elements of the ride are: the projections, the ride system, etc. Easy. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The animatronics are amazing and the ride system is brand new.
  • Show: “Show” is all about the show itself–including the queue, pre-show, and ride show. Neither attraction really has a pre-show. But the queue for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is definitely a step up, a few steps up actually. And the show for Snow White’s Scary Adventures was confusing, misleading, and lacked cohesiveness. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is none of those things, so it wins this category.
  • Longevity: For this category, we look at how well the attraction has or will age after several years. In general, it makes sense to look at the intellectual property that the attraction is based on to find the winner of this category. And then we ask ourselves, which is more timeless? Well, since both attractions were based on the same film, we cannot do that here. Instead, we will simply look at the fact that Snow White’s Scary Adventures no longer exists and its technology has become outdated. On the contrary, we can easily see the new ride lasting years and years more to come. So, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wins.

So, Which Ride Is Better?

It seems like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wins by a landslide, at least in our opinion. But that does not mean we do not miss and appreciate Snow White’s Scary Adventures. In fact, there are some upgrades planned for Disneyland’s version in California that we cannot wait to see.