One of the silliest and dizziest rides in all of Walt Disney World® can be found in the Magic Kingdom® Park’s Fantasyland®. The Mad Tea Party shrinks guests down to the size of a dormouse and spins them around again and again in teacups until they are too dizzy to see straight!
Mad Tea Party is based on the “Unbirthday” scene in the 1951 Disney animated classic film Alice in Wonderland which in turn was inspired by the novels of Lewis Carroll. Today, the attraction exists in the Fantasyland® of every Disney Resort around the world. The original version also titled Mad Tea Party opened in Disneyland® on July 17, 1955, and was followed by the Magic Kingdom® Park’s version on October 1, 1971. Soon, Tokyo Disneyland® unveiled its version, Alice’s Tea Party, on March 8, 1986, followed by Disneyland® Paris’ Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups on April 12, 1992, and finally Hong Kong Disneyland®’s Mad Hatter Tea Cups on September 12, 2005. All of these versions were opening day attractions except for Tokyo Disneyland®.
The Walt Disney World® version of the Mad Tea Party originally was an open air attraction just like its Disneyland® counterpart. However, due to pretty common inclement weather and afternoon thunderstorms in Central Florida, a roof was added in 1974. The attraction features eighteen tea cups in bright colors including pink, green, yellow, and purple. Each teacup can be controlled via a wheel in the center which allows guests to opt for just how dizzy they want to get. In addition to each teacup spinning on its own, they are grouped on three small turntables which rotate inside a separately rotating large turntable. Even thinking about the logistics of that gets my head spinning!
As guests approach the attraction, they can enjoy topiaries shaped like Alice and her friends and the March Hare’s house located near the control booth. Also nearby is a large leaf featuring a touching tribute. The leaf reads: “Be good at something, it makes you valuable…have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.” The quote is from Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who created a three dimensional animation software program titled Alice. Pausch is best known for his “Last Lecture” which he delivered shortly after learning that he was terminally ill. His lecture was made into a book and is a great read for anyone who is interested.
Once guests are ready to board their teacups, they can take in the festive atmosphere created by dozens of hanging Japanese lanterns which were added in 1992. While boarding and exiting, listen for the safety spiel given by none other than Alice herself. My favorite part of the attraction can be found in the middle of the teacups in the form of a giant teapot. It can be hard to spot while spinning around the floor, but every few minutes the Dormouse pops his head out to say hello. In addition to the frantic spinning, frenetic music from the animated film can be heard playing throughout the attraction to add another layer of excitement.
The Mad Tea Party has long been one of my favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom® Park. While it is a fairly simple attraction in comparison to others (say, for example the Haunted Mansion®), it has held up to the test of time and remained a classic for many guests. So, next time you are in the Magic Kingdom® Park be sure to stop by and celebrate your Unbirthday! Just try not to get too dizzy along the way!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite part of the Mad Tea Party? Do you have a favorite color teacup that you like to ride in? Have you ever experienced any of the other versions across the globe? Let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.