The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not yet open – though it’s getting very close – and we already have a mystery on our hands. Have a look at this highly zoomed-in photo of the cottage, visible for the first time since the construction walls have come down this past week:
And here’s another section of the cottage, just to the left of the first image:
Take careful note of the arrangement of ground-level props. In the first picture, we have a barrel and a few sticks – probably the handles of pick axes – to the right side of the door and under the window. In the second picture, we see the handles of several more pick axes near a window.
Your first thought might be that they have faithfully re-created the cottage as seen in the original Snow White movie. But a few movie stills found online show the cottage to have no pick axes in the front:
It’s not clear that the animators in the original movie even kept a consistent look to the cottage – small things like how exactly that window to the right of the door looked. Most of them have a bench to the right of the door. And in truth, there is a bench (possibly) in the new ride as well, though we don’t have a clear view of it. Here is that first image again:
The MIGHT be a bench next to the wheelbarrow there, to the left side of the image.
If the pick axes AREN’T from the movie, where could they be from?
One guess: the former Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride here in Fantasyland. Look at this mural from the loading zone:
Do you see the resemblance? The bench(es) may have come from the movie, but the strategic placement of pickaxes suggests this is a tribute to the former RIDE, not the movie.
But the story isn’t over. There *is* one other image from the movie that suggests pick axes are found in the movie at least once:
So what we’re looking at here is a cottage that gets drawn without pick axes in most of the movie, but does have them in one scene. That scene was duplicated in the mural of the 1971 ride, and the same scene (plus the 1971 ride) is now being honored in the 2014 ride.
That shows an INSANE amount of effort paid by Imagineers to get the details right. It’s one of the reasons Disney rides “work” so well–the small details like this trigger an unconscious feeling of familiarity, like we’ve been here before. In truth, it’s just a 3D version of what was once only a mural, or a movie still before that. This is arguably what Disney parks do best: bring the immersive realm of the animated films to live in fully-rendered, loving three-dimensional detail.