(this image is from the Disneyland website)
The Sleeping Beauty Castle’s drawbridge lowered for the first time at Disneyland on July 17th, 1955. It has remained down from that day on, with the exception of the opening of the newly remodeled Fantasyland in 1983. Sleeping Beauty castle was not actually opened to the public when the park began operation in 1955; people could simply look at it and walk around it. The walk through the castle actually began on April 29th, 1957, a full two years after Disneyland opened. The castle is the most photographed structure at the park, and is well known (along with it’s sisters in Orlando, Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo) around the world.
Why a castle?
Walt Disney wanted to build something that would draw visitors down Main Street, USA to the center of the park and Fantasyland on the other side. Known as a “wienie” (a term coined by Disney, who loved hot dogs), people would see the castle and want to go towards it. Also, Walt loved to travel and see different parts of the world, and wanted to bring some of the things he saw on his explorations back to his themed park, where people who could not travel to a foreign land could experience them. A ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle would be a great part of Fantasyland, and wouldn’t help the promotion of his upcoming film, either.
What is it based on?
There are many theories behind what the Sleeping Beauty castle is based on. The most common (and likely) story is that Walt Disney loved the look of Neuschwanstein Castle, in Schwangau, Germany, and wanted to create a fantasy castle at his park that would be home to one of the Disney princesses. Known as the Sleeping Beauty castle, the movie itself didn’t actually come out until January of 1959, several years after Disneyland opened. There are other castles that also lay claim to being the inspiration behind Disneyland’s castle, but that will be covered in a separate post.
The Sleeping Beauty castle is 77 feet tall, and took roughly one year to build. It contained a number of dioramas in it’s walls that guests could view as the passed through. Check out Disney’s official blog for a video about the dioramas. The castle, along with the rest of the park, gets redone each year for the holidays.
(image available in the public domain here)
There is no way to write a short blog about the Disneyland Castle and include every piece of information about it. However, if you have some stories or bits of trivia you’d like to share about Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, please comment below!