The children’s classic Alice in Wonderland has always had a curious connection with Wales, a relationship which gets ever more entwined, thanks to the Alice Town Trails mobile app and two major movies.
May 2016 saw the release of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to the 2010 blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway were part of the all-star cast, with Port Talbot’s own Michael Sheen returning as the White Rabbit, alongside comedian Paul Whitehouse (proudly Rhondda-born) as the March Hare.
Rhys Ifans joins the cast as the Mad Hatter’s father, and Sacha Baron Cohen appears as a half-clockwork, half-human called Time… and we’re shamelessly claiming him as Welsh, too, because his dad’s family were raised in Pontypridd."
But the Welsh connection runs much deeper – all the way back to 1861, when the young Alice Liddell spent the first of many summer holidays in Llandudno. The Liddells were close family friends with Charles Dodgson, who wrote the books under his more famous pen-name, Lewis Carroll.
It’s long been speculated that Carroll visited the Liddells at the holiday home they built here, and was inspired by Alice and her adventures in Llandudno.
The historical record is actually rather sketchy on this point, but this didn’t stop former Prime Minister David Lloyd George unveiling an iconic White Rabbit statue in 1933, and Llandudno has made the most of its Alice connection ever since, with a series of Wonderland Town Trails and a veritable army of statues and carved figures.
In 2016 they released an excellent new mobile app, Alice’s Looking Glass, a sequel to the popular Alice Origins and White Rabbit apps, which guide visitors around the town, taking in all the local beauty spots and places of interest, while throwing in quirky challenges and Alice-related activities.
They’re a wonderfully imaginative leap into the world of augmented reality, which fits in perfectly with the spirit of Carroll’s original fantasy novels, which propel Alice (and the reader) into fantastical new worlds. Moreover, they’re a great way to see the best of Llandudno, our most splendid Victorian resort.
We’d like to think that if Alice and Carroll were strolling the pier and promenade today, they’d be sharing a smartphone – and having a wonderful time.
The Alice Town Trails apps work on iOS and Android, and you can get them at the App Store and Google Play – see the Alice Town Trail website for more details.