And just as quickly as Disney found the Princess story, they almost lost it. 1951’s Alice in Wonderland is stylistically way ahead of it’s time… or they were just getting really good drugs at the Disney Studios a decade before the sixties… just check out that re-release poster!
Walt had been toying with this story for a long time. He produced Alice’s Wonderland, the first in the Alice Comedies series he did for M. J. Winkler in 1924. Never happy with that first attempt, Walt kept reworking Alice, and even considered it as an option for his first feature animated film…. of course, he went with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead.
After the success of Snow White, Alice was next up on Walt’s list. He officially registered the title with the Motion Picture Association of America. He hired Al Perkins and David S. Hall to develop the film. A story-reel was even complete in 1939, but Walt felt that Hall’s drawings resembled Tenniel’s drawings too closely, making them too difficult to animate. he felt the overall tone of Perkins’ script was too grotesque and dark, and dropped the project.
The project popped back up again after World War II, with the studio hiring author Aldous Huxley to re-write the script. Mary Blair submitted some concept drawings that helped move the project away from Tenneil’s sketchy illustrations by taking a modernist stance, using bold and vibrant colors and thick lines. This turned out to be the kick in the pants the production needed, and the script was re-worked to be more up-beat, and to focus more on comedy, music, and the whimsical side to Carroll’s book.