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Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

Cinderella Castle is the fairy tale castle at the center of two Disney theme parks: the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, and Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Both serve as worldwide recognized icons and the flagship attraction for their respective theme parks.

Exterior[]

Inspiration & Design[]

Cinderella Castle was inspired by a variety of real and fictional castles. These included Fontainebleau, Versailles and the chateaus of Chenonceau, Chambord and Chaumont, as well as Castle Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, and Alcázar of Segovia, Castile and León (Spain), the oldest of all, which is 9 centuries old. The chief designer of the Castle, Herbert Ryman, also referenced the original design for the castle in the film Cinderella and his own well-known creation--the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California.

Construction[]

Magic Kingdom[]

Cinderella Castle was completed in July 1971, after about 18 months of construction, and reaches to a height of 189 feet (58 m) tall, measured from the concrete bottom of the moat, which itself is 6 feet (1.8 m) deep at the drawbridge. Cinderella Castle is more than 100 feet (30 m) taller than Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. An optical trick known as forced perspective makes the Castle appear even larger than it actually is. As it becomes taller, its proportions get smaller. For example, using this method, the top spire of the Castle is actually close to half of the size it "appears." Major elements of the Castle were scaled and angled to give the illusion of distance and height, a method frequently used in Disney theme parks around the world.

Cinderella Castle appears to be made of white and grey stone with royal blue roofs on their turrets; the tops of several towers and two of the tallest spires are painted golden in color, as opposed to Disneyland's, which are covered with real gold leaf per Walt's own directive. Despite appearances, no bricks were used in its construction; the inner structure is constructed of six hundred tons of steel-braced frame construction, and a 10-inch-thick (250 mm) reinforced concrete wall encircles the structure to the full height of the outermost "stone" walls. All of the steel and concrete works are supported on a concrete drilled caisson foundation. In spite of the fact that this is not a genuine fortress, it is the next best thing structurally speaking. Much less fiberglass is used than is popularly supposed. Rather, most of the exterior is a thick, very hard fiber-reinforced gypsum plaster that is supported by light-gauge metal studs. Most fiberglass work is reserved for the exterior walls of more ornate upper towers. The roofs are not fiberglass, either. They are shingled in the same type of plastic that computer monitor shells are made from, attached to a cone of light gauge steel sheeting over the steel sub-frame. These towers were lifted by crane, then welded and bolted permanently to the main structure. Contrary to a popular legend, the Castle cannot be taken apart or moved in any way in the event of a hurricane. It would take months to disassemble, it would be too dangerous to operate the 300-foot (91 m) crane required in windy conditions, and there would have to be a safer building to keep it in; it was simpler to design it to handle a hurricane. It can easily withstand the 110 mph (175 km/h) design wind speeds in Central Florida with a great deal of strength in reserve.

Cinderella Castle is also surrounded by a moat, which contains approximately 3.37 million US gallons (12,800 m3) of water; however, unlike the drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, Cinderella Castle cannot raise its drawbridge. There are a total of 27 towers on the castle, each numbered 1-29—tower numbers 13 and 17 were deleted before construction when it was realized that they could not really be seen from anywhere in the park, due mainly to the other Fantasyland buildings. The tower with the clock in front is 10, the tallest is 20. 23 is the other golden-roofed tower.

Originally, a suite was planned for the Disney family and executives, but since Walt Disney died nearly five years before the park opened, it remained unfinished, and eventually was turned successively into a telephone call center, a dressing room, and is currently a lavish Dream Suite hotel room for specially selected guests. There are three elevators inside the castle. One is for guest use and goes between the lobby of Cinderella's Royal Table and the second floor where the restaurant is. The second is for restaurant staff use, and is located in tower 2 to the left of the drawbridge. It has landings in the Utilidors, the mezzanine level in a break room, and on the second floor in the kitchen. The third elevator is in tower 20, and services the Utilidors, the breezeway, the kitchen of Cinderella's Royal Table, and the Cinderella Castle Suite. The suite is about 30 feet (9.1 m) below the level where the cable is attached to tower 20. Access to the cable is by ladder. From January 2007 to December 2009 the suite was used as a prize for the Disney Dreams Giveaway at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Year of a Million Dreams celebration.

Guests had an opportunity to spend a night in the castle if they won the Giveaway. Guests could be approached by a Disney Cast Member at any time in one of the four theme parks and be informed that they won the prize. The chance to stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite was just one of the many prizes.

Cinderella Castle was designed so that it was tall enough that it could be seen from the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom, where many guests took ferries from the parking lot to the gates of the park. In theme park jargon, Cinderella Castle was conceived as the primary "weenie" (a term commonly used by Walt and his Imagineers) that draws new entering guests through Main Street, U.S.A. towards the central hub, from where all other areas can be reached.

The castle was repainted in the fall of 2006, and now is a slightly off white, brown and pinkish color, and the turrets are a much darker blue.

Tokyo Disneyland[]

It is generally considered to be a carbon copy of the Magic Kingdom's castle. However, from 1986–2006, a popular walk-through attraction called the "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" was featured within the castle. In June 2006, the castle was repainted, to differentiate it from Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The castle now has gold trimmings, the rooftops have been painted a different shade of blue, and the white stone of the turrets now has a tan/dirty-pink color.

Special Decorations[]

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom has been temporarily re-decorated on a few occasions.

  • To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1996, Imagineers transformed the front of Cinderella Castle into an 18-story "birthday cake." Complete with red and pink "icing," giant candy canes and 26 glowing candles, the castle served as the centerpiece for the 15-month long celebration. Designed by Walt Disney Entertainment Florida and later constructed by the Imagineers, this was no small undertaking. It took more than 400 US gallons (1,500 L) of pink paint to cover the castle, which was decorated with multicolored "sprinkles," 26 candles, ranging in height from 20–40 feet (6.1-12.2 m) tall, 16 two-foot (61 cm) long candy stars, 16 five-foot (1.5 m) candy bears, 12 five-foot (1.5 m) gumdrops, four six-foot (1.8 m) stacks of Life Savers, 30 three-foot (91 cm) lollipops, and 50 two-foot (61 cm) gumballs. Additionally, more than 1000 feet (305 m) of pink and blue inflatable "icing" was needed to finish it off. On January 31, 1998, the castle was transformed back to its original state.
  • On Nov. 16, 2004, the castle was modified to appear as though it was strewn with toilet paper, and "Stitch is King" was posted on a turret as faux graffiti to mark the grand opening of Stitch's Great Escape that day. The material was removed after the park closed that evening.
  • The castle's most recent redecoration commemorated the Happiest Celebration on Earth in honor of Disneyland's 50th anniversary and was formally unveiled on May 5, 2005. The castle's exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney animated characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire. Other statues included Kaa and King Louie from The Jungle Book, Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa from The Lion King, Sebastian and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, the Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and Victor, Hugo and Laverne from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just above the front archway sat an enormous "stained-glass" mirror modeled after the magic mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The mirror changed images every 40 seconds to feature each Disney castle and the date its park opened: Disneyland, 1955; the Magic Kingdom, 1971; Tokyo Disneyland, 1983; Disneyland Resort Paris, 1992; and Hong Kong Disneyland, 2005. The decorations were removed in late September 2006.

At Night[]

When the sun sets, the castle is illuminated in 16.7 million lights, thanks to SGM Palco LED lighting fixtures placed on different Castle levels and surrounding the castle. The castle itself plays a role in the Magic Kingdom's fireworks show, Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, in which it changes color in synchronization with the dramatic music of the display. The same color changing and effects occurs for the other fireworks shows: HalloWishes (in Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), Magic, Music and Mayhem (during Disney's Pirate and Princess Party), and the Christmas fireworks show Holiday Wishes during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

At the park's closing, the nightly "Kiss Goodnight" is performed, in which Roy O. Disney's dedication speech for the Magic Kingdom is played all over the park alongside classic Disney music which changes with the vivid colors of the castle. When the park closes before 11pm, the show is performed again at 11pm providing entertainment for guests of Disney resort hotels bordering the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Beginning November 2007, for the first time, the "Castle Dream Lights", with over 200,000 LED Christmas lights (like Disneyland Paris used since 2004), covered Cinderella's Castle and was lit nightly during a new stage show in front of the castle. The castle would look like ice and was very popular among guests during the holiday seasons.

On January 18, 2011, a nighttime projection show called The Magic, the Memories, and You premiered at Cinderella Castle at the Walt Disney World Resort. The show features exclusive photographs and videos of park guests, taken by Disney's PhotoPass employees, combined with projections of Disney characters and attractions and preselected music. The show is presented before the nightly Wishes fireworks show, and is part of Disney's "Let the Memories Begin" campaign for 2011. A parallel show exists at Disneyland, at the Disneyland Resort, taking place instead on the broad façade of it's a small world.

Interior[]

Mosaics[]

Inside the castle's archway, a series of five mosaic murals tells the story of Cinderella. Designed by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and crafted and set in place by a team of six artists led by mosaicist Hanns-Joachim Scharff, the 15-by-10-foot (4.6 by 3.0 m) ornate panels are shaped in a Gothic arch. The murals took 22 months to complete and contain just over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass and rough smalti (glass made specifically for mosaics traditionally used by Italian craftsmen) in more than 500 colors. Many of the hand-cut tiles are fused with sterling silver and 14-karat (58 percent) gold, and some are as small as the head of a tack. Looking closely at these ornate murals, one will notice that each of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters appears with a little added color--one sister's face is clearly "red with anger", while the other is a little "green with envy" as they watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique[]

As of September 10, 2007, the castle is home to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, first introduced at Downtown Disney. Inside, guests can receive a one-of-a-kind "princess transformation," that features make-up, one of three hairstyles, a manicure, a sash, and/or a gown, crown, wand and shoes.

The King's Gallery, the former gift shop in this space, has moved to the Main Street Cinema on Main Street, U.S.A.

Cinderella Castle Suite[]

Inside the upper levels of Cinderella Castle, there is a suite that was intended to be an apartment for Walt Disney and his family when they were in Florida. After Walt died in 1966, the apartment was left unfinished. This space is not large, and can be compared to the size of a master bedroom and bathroom in an average house. The location of the suite can be identified from the outside by locating the stained glass windows with pictures in the center on the north and west sides of the castle, about 2/3 of the way up. The glass used contains many small, multi-faceted pieces, which slightly obscures the view of the park from inside the suite. The suite adjoins a sizable exterior balcony on the east side. The walls around this balcony are about 5 feet (1.5 m) high. This balcony affords views to the north, east, and south. The balcony is only accessible through an emergency exit and is not a guest area.

On June 7, 2006, it was announced by Disney that the suite would be completely decorated and upholstered as a 'royal bedchamber', which can sleep up to six people. It has become available as a prize during the Year of a Million Dreams celebration taking place at all eleven Disney theme parks, and an overnight stay in the apartment will be a prize randomly awarded to a guest at the four Walt Disney World theme parks and Downtown Disney.

Disney describes the apartment this way in their official press release:

"Cinderella's Castle Suite is four stories above the surrounding Magic Kingdom -- a salon, bedchamber and bathroom off of a private marble-floored foyer, all replete with rich details:

Fluffy feather comforters beneath the regal canopy draping of two queen beds ... A cut-stone bedchamber floor inspired by the mosaic art masterpiece that adorns the castle's breezeway entrance to Fantasyland ... A parlor sofa that invites kicking off the shoes and curling up to read a chapter beneath the richly detailed vaulted ceiling of the salon ... Familiar castle-gray stone walls, rich hardwood paneling and ornate stained-glass windows.

In the foyer of the suite, guests will discover a design of the fairytale pumpkin coach in the marble floor inlay. A memorable artifact from the story, the famous glass slipper, adorns a cove. And through the doorway, the bedchamber and salon are appointed with furnishings in the style of the era of "the Louies," as Silvestri refers to the French rulers of the period inspiring the castle and Cinderella story. Nooks showcase clocks, porcelain and accessories befitting the period. Doors are richly detailed; the walls are covered with wood panels and wall coverings. In the bathroom, hand-decorated copper basins sit atop the vanity, recalling a time when fresh water was carried to the bedchamber.

Despite all the careful attention to centuries-old details, the amenities of the Cinderella's Castle Suite are definitely 21st century. There's a lavish garden tub plus a shower. There are also wheelchair accessible bathroom and bedroom facilities and elevator access to the suite. As for an ornately framed, 17th-century-style portrait of Cinderella above a regal fireplace in the bedchamber: it magically changes into a modern, 21st-century flat-screen HDTV. Also in the den there is a mirror, but can be turned on to reveal another flat-screen."

Cinderella's Royal Table[]

Cinderella's Royal Table, formerly known as King Stefan's Banquet Hall, is a restaurant inside the castle. Located on the second floor, guests can take the circular stairway or the elevator to this royal dining room, where the younger guests are "princes" and "princesses", while the adults in the party are referred to as lords and ladies. Walt Disney Imagineers had originally wanted to give the restaurant a regal name, and since there are no well-known characters from "Cinderella" that met their criteria, they instead took a little dramatic license and chose the name of Sleeping Beauty's father, King Stefan. The name was changed on April 28, 1997, in order not to confuse tourists. If you look around the elegant restaurant, with its stained glass windows and medieval décor, you will notice more than forty coats of arms on display. Each of these is an actual family seal, and represent some of the many people that played a major role in the design and construction of Walt Disney World, including Roger Broggie, Sr. (Imagineer and railroad aficionado who aided in the design of many attractions), Marc Davis (animator and theme park designer), Roy O. Disney (Walt's brother), John Hench (who designed the castle), Diane Disney Miller (Walt's daughter), Dick Nunis (former Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions), and Marty Sklar (Imagineering vice chairman and principal creative executive who worked alongside Walt Disney).

Cinderella's Royal Table is also the location of the "Once Upon a Time" character breakfast. This family-style breakfast features pictures with Cinderella, in the lobby, while her friends, Belle, Snow White, Aurora, and several other Disney heroines, circulate from table to table in the dining room.

For lunch and dinner, guests wait in the downstairs foyer and have their pictures taken with Cinderella. They are invited upstairs where they may select a three course meal.The princesses visit the tables for pictures and several copies of the developed photograph with Cinderella are presented at no additional charge.

Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall (Tokyo Disneyland)[]

Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall is located in the castle where Cinderella lives with Prince Charming. Cinderella, wanting to share her magical princess story, decided to open up the castle even during her absence and exhibit various artworks that show scenes from her story. At the lobby and corridor, guests will find eight murals showing how Cinderella changed from beloved daughter, to servant girl, and then to Princess. They will also see a diorama of Cinderella magically transformed into wearing a beautiful ball gown, and other artworks made from various materials such as paper, wood and glass. In the Grand Hall guests will find a magnificent chandelier, the renowned glass slipper, a throne, and special paintings that reveal a magical message when photographed using a flash.

Sources & External Links[]

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