Both Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland and Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World are a magical sight to see. For many park guests, this sight alone lets them know they have finally returned “home” to the Magic Kingdom. For children and adults alike, the Disney castles are a symbol of wishes, magic, imagination, dreams come true, and so much more. Let’ take a look at the unique traits which have made Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle such iconic centerpieces for two of the world’s most wonderful theme parks.
When Walt Disney was planning Disneyland, he envisioned Fantasyland as a place where childhood fairy tales would come to life. Guests of all ages would be able to enter the fantastic stories they had grown up with; And what better way to enter these magical worlds than through a castle! In an effort to promote his upcoming film, Walt decided the castle for his new park would be Sleeping Beauty Castle. The park, along with Sleeping Beauty Castle, opened four years prior to the release of the animated film.
Though the Sleeping Beauty Castle was modeled after several large medieval castles, Walt wanted his castle to be friendly and welcoming rather than large and intimidating. So Disneyland’s castle was built on a much smaller scale than the European castles. The 77-foot tall castle is the smallest of all the Disney castles around the world. Through the use of forced perspective, the imagineers were able to make Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle appear larger than it is in reality.
Walt learned a lot from the construction of his first theme park. When he purchased land for his Florida project, he made sure to purchase enough land to allow a much larger scale project. It seems this idea found its way to the castle, as well. Cinderella Castle stands 189-feet tall and is the tallest Disney castle in the world. Like Sleeping Beauty Castle, forced perspective is also utilized on this castle. Cinderella Castle was completed in July 1971, after 18 months of construction – six months longer than it took to build all of Disneyland. Unlike Sleeping Beauty Castle, Cinderella Castle opened to the public 31 years after the release of its corresponding animated film.
Inside The Castles
On April 29, 1957 the Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough opened inside of Disneyland’s iconic castle. Two years before the animated film’s release, guests were able to get a glimpse of the characters and story from the upcoming film. Guests would climb the castle’s stairs to view dioramas showcasing the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. In 1977, these dioramas were redesigned to resemble the store window displays on Main Street, U.S.A. The Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough continued to delight guests until its closure in 2001. Seven years later, in 2008, the walkthrough was reopened, allowing park guests to once again enjoy the classic story in its regal setting.
Moving across the country, the walkway through Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle features a stunning mosaic depicting the story of Cinderella. In Florida, not only can guests walk through the castle, but they can also dine with the princesses inside the castle! Cinderella’s Royal Table is a highlight for many young princesses; after all, it’s not every day you get to dine with royalty in a real castle!
Similar to his Main Street, U.S.A apartment at Disneyland, Walt had plans to construct a private apartment inside Cinderella Castle. Because the castle was not constructed until after his death, the apartment was not built within the castle. In 2007, the Disney imagineers made Walt’s dream a reality when the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite was opened. During the Year Of A Million Dreams celebration, a stay in this exclusive suite was awarded to numerous lucky families.
- Sleeping Beauty Castle features a working drawbridge which has been lowered only twice – once on opening day of Disneyland in 1955 and again for the unveiling of the new Fantasyland in 1983.
- The Disney family crest can be found above the drawbridge on Sleeping Beauty Castle.
- While Roy Disney was out of town, Walt went against the wishes of his brother and had many of the Sleeping Beauty Castle spires coated in 22 karat gold. Supposedly he left one without gold to symbolize Disneyland would never be completed.
- Though Cinderella Castle appears to be made with stones, not a single one was used in its construction. The outside of the castle is actually made of fiberglass.
- More than 40 coats of arms can be seen inside Cinderella’s Royal Table. Each of these coats of arms belongs to someone who played a vital role in the Walt Disney Company.
- The beautiful mosaic mural inside Cinderella Castle was completed by six individuals over the course of more than two years.
Do you have a favorite Disney castle? Let us know if you prefer the Disneyland or Walt Disney World castle in the comments below!
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