Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant

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Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant
Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland, Paris.jpg
Disneyland Park (Paris)
AreaFantasyland
Coordinates48°52′23.34″N 2°46′33.68″E / 48.8731500°N 2.7760222°E / 48.8731500; 2.7760222Coordinates: 48°52′23.34″N 2°46′33.68″E / 48.8731500°N 2.7760222°E / 48.8731500; 2.7760222
StatusOperating
Opening dateApril 12, 1992
General statistics
Attraction typeWalkthrough
DesignerWalt Disney Imagineering
ThemeSleeping Beauty
Height50.9 m (167 ft)
Audio-Animatronics1
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (French for "The Castle of the Beauty in the Sleeping Wood", but known in English as Sleeping Beauty Castle) is the fairy tale castle at the centre of Disneyland Park and a continuation of Sleeping Beauty Castle first seen at Disneyland in California.

The Castle features two parts, a dungeon area in the base featuring an Audio-Animatronic dragon and, above, a concrete balcony walkthrough area with Sleeping Beauty–themed stained glass windows and tapestries. There are also several shops selling glass figures, ornaments and gifts.

Original concept[edit]

"Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland was inspired by the Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Germany. This European influence was fine for building a castle in Anaheim, but the fact that castles exist just down the road from Disneyland Paris challenged us to think twice about our design." —Tony Baxter, executive designer Walt Disney Imagineering[1]

Since Europe is home to the castles that inspired the structures at Disney's first three parks, Imagineers reconsidered what kind of edifice would stand at the hub of its first European theme park. Many different concepts were then created and considered, ranging from slightly modified versions of Disney's existing castles to radically new structures to stand instead in the Castle's place (for example a Discoveryland-like tower).

The team eventually settled on Imagineer Tom Morris' approach to the established Disney castle. Inspirations cited by Imagineering include illustrations from the book of hours Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Mont Saint-Michel monastery in Normandy. As Charles Perrault had not detailed the castle in his 1697 fairy tale, Imagineering had few restrictions regarding its physical appearance. However, Walt Disney's own 1959 film Sleeping Beauty provided the inspiration for, among other things, the Castle's surrounding square trees.

The realisation of the stained glass windows in London, which are visible in Sleeping Beauty's Gallery, was overseen by Peter Chapman, who had previously worked on the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris.

Completed in 1992, for the park's 12 April opening, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant stands 50 meters (160 ft) tall.

Castle[edit]

The Castle is home to a dragon, which, at 27 meters (89 ft) from head to tail, was the largest Animatronic figure yet built when the park opened in April 1992. The walkthrough attraction consists of a dimly lit cavern with the large dragon sleeping silently. Occasionally it will 'wake up', puffing smoke and growling. The building also contains La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, a gallery of displays which illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty in tapestries, stained glass windows and figures. La Boutique du Château, a shop selling Christmas ornaments year-round, and Merlin l'Enchanteur, a shop specialising in handmade glass figures, are located on ground floor.

Changes throughout the years[edit]

The castle has received several overlays throughout the years. The first occurred during the park's first anniversary celebration in 1993, when the castle was dressed up as a cake complete with strawberries, icing and candles. This overlay was removed after the celebration ended. The cake overlay concept was later copied by Walt Disney World's Cinderella Castle in 1996 for the 25th Anniversary of the resort.

During the fifth anniversary of Disneyland Paris in 1997, the castle was decorated in carnival masks, jester hats, frills and bells to promote the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This overlay lasted until the beginning of 1998.

During the tenth anniversary of Disneyland Paris in 2002, the front of the castle was fitted with a golden scroll displaying a large 10. The celebration also saw the opening of Walt Disney Studios next door. The scroll and other anniversary material in the park were removed in 2003.

In 2007, the castle received another overlay, celebrating the park's fifteenth anniversary. It featured golden Disney characters displayed on the turrets and spires, each holding a candle, and Tinkerbell on the highest spire. The candles were illuminated each night during a special 'Candlebration' ceremony which took place on a raised temporary stage at Central Plaza, in front of the Castle. A huge illuminated gold plaque featuring a large '15' was hung on the front of the castle. This echoed the overlay from the tenth anniversary in 2002. The fifteenth anniversary and the 'Candlebration' ceremony ended on March 7, 2009.

The fifteenth anniversary overlay quickly followed on April 4, 2009 by Mickey's Magical Party, a "theme year" celebration held at the park. The castle was again overlaid, this time with a Mickey and Friends plaque over the main window, and the spire heads were changed from being characters to being 3 circles "of ribbon" representing Mickey Mouse. A more permanent Central Plaza stage was built outside the castle to host the "It's dance time... with Mickey and Friends" show.

The castle was repainted in a new colour-scheme, restored and fitted with multicolored LED lighting during 2011. For the Disney Dreams nighttime spectacular show its moat was fitted with water fountains, the upper window was replaced by doors that open to reveal a LED lighted star and Central Plaza stage was removed in order to increase the viewing area.

Popular culture[edit]

In Epic Mickey the castle was adapted into the game's starting and finishing level, Dark Beauty Castle. This version contained elements of the various Disney castles and even had statues resembling Disney characters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Imagineers (1998). Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real. Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-8372-3.

External links[edit]