Focus on Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups' refurbishment

Guests arriving at Fantasyland at the end of July found one of our classic Disney attractions as good as new after several months of refurbishment work. This was the most extensive renovation project for the attraction since 1992, involving multiple internal and external partners working on site. We asked Richard Thorpe, Project Manager for the FAM (Facilities Assets Management) Department.

The first thing you notice is that the attraction doesn’t appear to be any different. But if you look closely, you’ll see a whole host of details – a sign of the great care taken in the refurbishment work. What’s really striking – especially at night – is the new lighting effects on the roof of the attraction. The original strings of coloured lights have been replaced by latest-generation LEDs (red/green/blue), allowing for lots of unique sequences that will still take a few more days to programme. They might even follow the seasons – maybe with orange for Halloween.

The entire glass structure was cleaned and repainted and the cap taken away and refurbished (painted and repaired) by a specialist decorator. In the beginning, the 67 fancy little lights hanging over the spinning tea cups were just going to be cleaned and re-painted, but were in fact all replaced in the end, and are now made of flame-retardant resin. Being more opaque, the resin is the reason why fans find the effect a bit different now. The intensity of the colours has changed, too, under the creative influence of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The tea cups now spin on the central turntable in all their former glory, having been repaired and re-painted in our central workshops and re-installed on an all-in-one non-slip base that preserves the colours better. Cast Members now have a second covered and heated gatehouse, providing a better view of guests and making it easier to run the attraction. The existing hut has been repainted and the console entirely re-done.

But the work hasn’t just affected the attraction itself – the immediate surroundings have also seen some changes. The flooring has been redone in durable paving, creating fancy patterns. The queue waiting line has been extended and the ropes replaced by permanent barriers, which are also higher and therefore more safe for children. The garden decorations – such as the giant Alice in Wonderland leaves – have been repainted, and the Horticulture team has given the landscaped areas a magical makeover. Even the nearby pontoon has been repainted, and the flooring changed to a more durable pink granite paving.

So there is now an even more colourful experience in store for guests, and the crazy tea cups will be spinning for a long time to come – keeping everybody happy!