The Walt Disney World Castle, or Cinderella Castle, is the tallest of the five Disney castles currently standing. Completed in July of 1971, this 189 foot tall structure was just one foot shorter than the 190 foot limit placed by the Federal Aviation Administration, because Disney didn’t want to have to put a blinking red light on top of the castle (the limit was raised to 200 feet years later, which is why the Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest each top out at 199 feet). Cinderella Castle has 27 turrets, labeled #1-#29, with no #13 or #17 because they were taken out of the blueprints during construction. The castle includes a restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the Disney Dream Suite, a suite for up to six people to stay inside the castle, built recently in the area where Walt Disney’s apartment would have been.
The use of forced perspective (the castle actually gets smaller as it gets taller) makes it appear much larger than 189 feet as you walk down Main Street, USA or view it from other areas of the Magic Kingdom. Near the top of the structure, windows, doors, and even bricks, or are only half-size.
While most sources state that the Sleeping Beauty Castle was modeled for the most part after Neuschwanstein Castle, it is believed that while the Cinderella Castle has it’s roots on the Disneyland model, it also had inspiration from such castles as Chateaus Pierrefonds and Chambord in France, Moszna in Poland, and a number of others.
(Cheateau Pierrefonds stone model photo can be found here)
(Moszna castle’s photo can be found here)
Cinderella’s Royal Table, inside the castle, is one of the most sought after dining experiences in Walt Disney World. Guests have their picture taken with Cinderella in the Grand Hall before heading upstairs to dine. While the food itself is not bad at all, the idea of meeting princesses while eating inside the Walt Disney World castle is its biggest draw. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance, or you can try your luck by checking in with the host or hostess (although this has never worked for me).
(This photo is from the Walt Disney World website)
Over it’s roughly 42 years of existence, Cinderella’s castle has seen a few changes. To celebrate Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary in 1996, Imagineers turned the castle into a giant pink birthday cake. And love it or hate it (many tend toward the latter), it garnered a lot of attention and definitely made the castle stand out. It was also covered in ‘toilet paper’ and graffiti which said “Stitch is King” to celebrate the opening of the Tomorrowland attraction Stitch’s Great Escape in 2004.
While the castle is a site to behold any time of day, I feel that it looks the most beautiful at night, especially when covered in thousands of white holiday lights. As the majority of my trips to Walt Disney World have been in January, I have a number of pictures throughout the years of Cinderella castle before Christmas decorations have been taken down. Here are just a few from 2005, 2008 and 2010.
Do you have a favorite time to visit Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle, or a special memory from a trip you’ve taken? Leave a comment below!