« Tiana's Showboat Jubilee | Main | Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - 2009 »

Cinderella Wishing Well - Magic Kingdom

Like so many other articles I write, I can't talk about Disney World without first mentioning Disneyland. The first Disney wishing well appeared on March 27, 1961. As the story goes, Walt received an anonymous gift postmark from Italy. In the package were figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, meticulously carved of Carrera marble. It is speculated that the artist modeled the characters from hand soaps licensed at the time.

The gift touched Walt greatly and he handed the bundle over to John Hench and told him to find a place for them in the park. However, Hench was dismayed. Snow White was the same height as the dwarfs, and this would create a challenge as to how to display the characters without the artist's oversight being obvious. In the end, he happened upon an ingenious idea. By placing Snow White high above the dwarfs, he used forced-perspective to achieve a sense of distance, thus making her appear taller than she actually is.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


However, a new story has emerged. After Hench's death (February 5, 2004), his secretary cleaned out his desk. In it, she came across paperwork and invoices showing that John actually commissioned the statues himself. And being the showman/prankster that he was, wove an elaborate tale of their origin.

Snow White and the dwarfs were placed to the right side of Sleeping Beauty Castle. At the same time, a wishing well was added, creating Snow White Grotto. Being true to the movie, you can hear our young heroine singing and her voice echoing from within the well.


Snow White Wishing Well


When the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World was being planned, it was a given that a wishing well would be part of Fantasyland. But unlike Disneyland, where Sleeping Beauty Castle and Snow White Grotto are from two different movies, the Florida park would have a wishing well themed appropriately to Cinderella Castle.

Positioned in an alcove along a pathway that leads from Tomorrowland to the right side of the castle, Cinderella Wishing Well is a wonderful retreat from the often hectic Magic Kingdom.


Cinderella Wishing Well

Cinderella Wishing Well


This area is rarely crowded and is the perfect spot to take a break and relax on one of the benches. It's also a great photo op for romantic couples. And while you're there, why not make a wish.


Bench


Like so many other things at Disney parks, the wishing well tells a story. If you look closely at the sides of the well, you can see the mice and birds, trying to make a dress for Cinderella while eluding the evil Lucifer. These characters were sculpted by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson.


Birds and Ribbon

Mice

Mice

Lucifer


Wishing wells originated in Europe. It was believed that deities lived in water and a spoken wish would be granted if a token gift was left for them. This tradition has lived on through the ages. Just take a look at almost any body of water in a Disney park and you'll see coins resting on the bottom. In most cases, it is time consuming and expensive to retrieve this money, so it usually sits here for long periods of time. When it is eventually collected, much of it has corroded so badly that the entire lot is sold as scrap metal. However, Cinderella Wishing Well is an exception. Collected at regular intervals, this money is donated to children's charities.


Children's Charities Plaque


So next time you're on a commando-style tour of the Magic Kingdom, why not wander over to the Cinderella Wishing Well and take a break. You'll be glad you did. And remember, Disney parks are where wishes come true.

The previous post in this blog was Tiana's Showboat Jubilee .

The next post in this blog is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - 2009.

Comments (25)

Michelle:

Where have I been? I've lost count how many times that I have been to Magic Kingdom and I haven't ever seen the wishing well! Maybe this will be a reason to encourage my husband that I need a quick trip down there to check it out for myself :)

David Santo:

This is a well traveled and much enjoyed stop every time my wife and I are at the Magic Kingdom.

And the background you gave was really interesting.

Which story do you believe more?

1. The original Disneyland statues were a gift from a far away land.

2. They were commissioned by a Disney employee.

And thanks again for a wonderful blog.

Dave

Jack's Answer:

I grew up with the "anonymous gift" story so it's very hard for me to let go of this wonderful scenario. My objectivity could be in question.

The "purchase order" story was presented to me by a friend as fact. However, I have a problem with this story. It doesn't make sense to me that John Hench, a senior Imagineer, would order Snow White the same size as the dwarfs (unless this was to add credence to his elaborate joke). John would want things to be "right" at Disneyland and he would have seen to it that Ms. White was in correct proportion to the dwarfs.

So to answer your question, I still believe the first, more idealistic story.


Madi:

What a great topic for a blog! I didn't think you were allowed to throw money in the well, it just looked like a photo opp to me! I'll have to bring extra change next time I'm in Disney, and make a point of going!

Julia:

Jack,

So good to see another installment! I have heard the "anonymous gift story," but the more recent story is new to me and quite intriguing. I love that there are so many mysteries within the Disney parks!

My boyfriend and I are visiting WDW in December, and will certainly be stopping by the wishing well for a photo. Thank you for pointing out all the details on the well. It's even more beautiful than I remember.

cathy mullen:

Hi Jack,
Thank you for explaining the Snow White and Dwarfs statues at DL. I wondered why they were there! While we were passing through a young couple were standing by the well and told my group that they just became engaged.
Now I really never noticed all the detail at the well at DW so I'll have to check this out on my next visit.
BTW, have you seen the new Disney Holiday tv commercial ? It's beautiful but I had tears when I saw it!
Have a magical day!

Jack's Comment:

Snow White Wishing Well is a very popular spot to "pop the question." It happens weekly (maybe daily) at Disneyland and I suspect the Magic Kingdom is also a popular spot.

Connie La Tempa:

I cannot wait to visit this area on my upcoming trip in 3 weeks. I cannot believe it is only 3 week!

This reminds me how much I enjoyed Hench's "Designing Disney"--it's an absolute must-read for Disney parks fans. He discusses the statues in there (never once letting on that he was behind the whole thing in the first place, of course), but it's just one of dozens of fascinating little bits of detail.

Heather Young:

The Cinderella Wishing Well is the very one that I threw my money into on my first visit and I whispered my wish to return many times. It worked! If you can dream it, then you can do it.....

John:

I just "discovered" this myself on our last trip, only because our tour guide took us by on our "Keys to the Kingdom" tour-and I believe the only reason we went down then was because there was some kind of a show going on on the stage in front of the Castle. I have been to the Magic Kingdom at least a half dozen times before and had never been down that path, never even knew it existed! Wondering what the fireworks view would be like from this spot?

Jack's Answer:

I don't believe this path is open during the firework displays. Since some of the pyrotechnics are shot from within this vicinity, for guest safety, this area is closed. However, if it was open, the view would be awful. The vast majority of the show would be completely hidden by the shrubbery.

Dora Wildman:

The wishing well beside Cinderella's castle has been a favorite spot ever since my husband and I came upon it during our honeymoon trip. Our next trip was four years later and we brought our son to the wishing well (can you guess what the honeymoon wish was) and we make a point of stopping at the well every trip since then.

Deanna:

Great blog as always, Jack. I made a special point of seeing Cinderella's wishing well in February and found it every bit as beautiful as I had heard. I am starting to plan my first journey out to Disneyland in 2010, and will be sure to see Snow White wishing well and tell the story to my unsuspecting friends :) Thanks for the great background and information!

Tricia Petty:

I love all your blogs and thanks so much for this blog on both Wishing Wells. My husband "pop the question" at Cinderella's Wishing Well 6 years ago and each time we visit we always stop by to remember that exciting day for us. We will be there in Dec. and I am sure we will visit it again but this time we will be sure to pay attention to the extra details we have missed in the past.

Suzie:

I love the history you've shared! Now I need to go back to Disneyland and find the Snow White statues. I love the Cinderella Wishing Well but never really looked at it's base to see the figures. Guess I'll have to go to Disney World again, too! Oh, darn! :0)

Mat:

Another great blog as always Jack. My wife and I always stop by the Well and relax when down there and usually snap a few pics of my wife next to the fountain. Its amazing how quiet and empty it usually is, definitely a "hidden treasure" that the majorty of the public walks right by!

Samantha:

Hi Jack, Thank you so much for this article on the wishing well. However, it actually is one of the most popular places to "pop the question" in WDW, along with the Rose Garden by Cinderella's Castle it is very popular indeed... I was proposed to here in December 2009 and we are returning in February 2010 for our Wedding in Walt Disney World :) Thank You for highllighting such a special spot for us!

Kelly:

I love Cinderella's wishing well but there's also a wonderful fountain on the other side with a beautiful scuplture of the lady herself. I loved this fountain since I was a little girl Thank you for your wonderful photos of the lovely details of the wishing well

Josh Olive:

I love this well, but my wife refuses to take that path by the castle because there is so much cigarette smoke over there, the closer you are to the castle.

It's unfortunate, because that's a wonderful shortcut and it does offer a beautiful view.

As to the story that John Hench actually fabricated that whole business with the Snow White statues, that's new to me. What a prankster!

AJ:

My husband and I were at Magic Kingdom this past weekend, and I hung around the well for a few minutes. Parts of it are getting a little rusty, and the bottom needs a new coat of paint, but it was still beautiful. I had even commented to him "We've probably been to this park 20 times together, and this is the first time I've ever noticed this well."

Collette Beuther:

I am so glad to know of the opportunity to help make some children's dreams come true the next time I visit Walt Disney World. Like so many others, I too had no idea this wishing well existed. Thank you so much for your wonderful writings, attention to detail and beautiful pictures.

Daniel :

sigh.. i wanted to propose to my fiance there and i couldn't find it, and I didn't want to ask for direction to ruin why i was so intent on finding a wishing well.

Lorie:

Many thanks for the reminder to slow down and smell the roses (or toss some coins) while at WDW. We tend to do the "commando-style" touring and I don't think that in many trips to WDW we have ever seen the wishing well. First on our list for our next visit!

Candy:

Wonderful story about both of the parks wishing wells! Thanks! I have seen them both and they are beautiful.

I have to agree about the smoke. Unfortunately, alot of the quiet serene spots in the Disney Parks have been taken over by smokers or made into smoking areas. That is a real pity.

Can't wait to revisit the wishing well in the Magic Kingdom on my next visit.

Sally:

Hi Jack! One more great story, thanks. I take this short cut between fantasy land and tomorrow land quite often. It is quiet and peaceful there, except for the smokers. Is that still the smokers area, or did they finally get rid of smoking at Disney World?

Jack's Answer:

The smoking section is still located at the top of this walkway (near the castle). However, it is far enough away from the wishing well that you can still enjoy this gem smoke-free.

Elizabeth Cunha:

I Was told that a Mr Larsen Had built one of the wells there. But I can not find any thing showing that. Do you know why he is not getting credit for his work at Disneyland CA?

Jack's Answer:

The only Disney person I know of by this name is Eric Larson (spelled with an "o" not an "e"). He was an animator, one of Walt's "nine old men." I have no knowledge about him having anything to do with the wishing wells.

Also, Walt did not give people credit for their work in the theme parks. The best anyone can hope for is their name on a Main Street window.

Bill Van Berckelaer:

Important place in my life. Asked my wife to marry me at the Wishing Well 12/27/63. When it came to where we whould spend New Years Eve 2000 it was eazy, with Snow White at the wishing well. Thank you for making it all possible Walt. P.S. was also there first week it opened in 1955.

Post a comment

(All comments must be approved before they appear on the entry.)


By submitting this comment I agree I am bound by the AllEars.net Terms of Use agreement

Return to Blog Central

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 8, 2009 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Tiana's Showboat Jubilee .

The next post in this blog is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - 2009.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.