Sleeping Beauty Castle

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Sleeping Beauty Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle DLR.jpg
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in 2009.
Coordinates33°48′46″N 117°55′08″W / 33.81276°N 117.91894°W / 33.81276; -117.91894
StatusUnder construction
Opening dateJuly 17, 1955
Hong Kong Disneyland
Coordinates22°18′45″N 114°02′28″E / 22.31262°N 114.04113°E / 22.31262; 114.04113
Opening dateSeptember 12, 2005
Closing dateJanuary 1, 2018
Replaced byPrincesses Castle
General statistics
Attraction typeCastle
ThemeSleeping Beauty
Height77 ft (23 m)

Sleeping Beauty Castle (originally known as Snow White's Castle) is a fairy tale castle at the center of Disneyland and formerly (being redesigned as of 2018) at Hong Kong Disneyland. It is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany[1]. It appears in the Walt Disney Pictures title card, and, along with Cinderella Castle, is an iconic symbol of The Walt Disney Company. It is the only Disney castle whose construction was overseen by Walt Disney.


Sleeping Beauty Castle decorated for Christmas
Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle at night, February 2005.

Opened July 17, 1955, the castle is the oldest of all Disney castles. Though it reaches a height of 77 feet (23 m), it was designed by Roland E. Hill to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective[2]; design elements are larger at the foundation and smaller at the turrets. The castle initially featured an empty upper level that was never intended to house an attraction, but Walt Disney was not satisfied with what he viewed as wasted space, and challenged his Imagineers to find some use for the space.

Beginning April 29, 1957,the visitors were able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. The voice of Jiminy Cricket from Walt Disney's Pinocchio (1940) singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" is piped into the castle.[3] The original dioramas were designed in the style of Eyvind Earle, production designer for Disney's 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, and were then redone in 1977 to resemble the window displays on Main Street, U.S.A.. The walkthrough was closed for unspecified reasons on October 7, 2001; popular belief claims the September 11th attacks and the potential danger that ensued played a major factor in the closing.

On July 17, 2008, Disney announced that the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough would reopen in the style of the original Earle dioramas, enhanced with new technology not available in 1957. The walkthrough reopened on November 27, 2008 at 5:00 p.m., drawing long lines going as far back as the Hub at the center of the park. Unlike previous incarnations, visitors who are unable to climb stairs or navigate the passageways of the Castle can still experience the walkthrough "virtually" in a special room on the Castle's ground floor. This room is lavishly themed, and presents the closed-captioned CGI walkthrough recreation on a high-definition TV. This same virtual recreation is included on the Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD.

The castle walkthrough entrance is on the west side of the building inside Fantasyland. Guests first see a large medieval-themed story book open to a page that announces the birth of the princess Aurora. After climbing the stairs inside, a scene depicts Aurora as a baby, being blessed with magic gifts by her fairy godmothers. Behind a glass window, there is an animation of the castle courtyard, and the king and queen watching as a large fire burns all the spinning wheels in the kingdom. At the top of the stairs, as guests reach the center of the castle's top level, another window looks out on the castle's great hall, where everyone in the kingdom is asleep, including servants and the cat and dog. The second half of the walkthrough becomes darker, featuring appearances by Maleficent, her crow, and several gargoyles which fly out of her nearby castle. At the end, the prince fights against Maleficent's incarnation as a dragon, amid a forest of thorny brambles, and then a field of roses appears with doves flying above, as he kisses Aurora and breaks the spell. As guests exit the walkthrough at the bottom of the stairs on the east side of the castle, another medieval-themed oversized book depicts an image of the prince and princess dancing together, as her dress changes colors from pink to blue and back again.

The Disney family coat of arms hangs above the archway to the castle.[4] It is composed of three lions passant in pale.[5] It is known that the coat of arms was not originally on the castle, but was placed there sometime between June 1965 [6] and July 1965.[7]

At the rear of the castle, shaded by the archways and driven into the ground is a gold spike that is widely, but wrongly, believed to mark the geographical center of Disneyland as of the addition of Mickey's Toontown in 1993. In reality, the spike is a surveyor's mark that was used to ensure that the castle bridge and entrance lined up with Main Street USA when the park was first constructed. The original geographical center of the Magic Kingdom was in the middle of the round park, where the "Partners" statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse stands. The addition of Toontown moved the actual center of the park a few yards northward, but still on the hub side of the castle drawbridge.

Fiftieth anniversary[edit]

In celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary, both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castle received makeovers. In Disneyland, the castle was repainted and five turrets were decorated with stylized crowns, each representing a decade in the park's history:

  • The creation of Disneyland is represented by a pair of famous "Ears" peeking up over the horizon to see the wonders to come.
  • "A World on the Move", otherwise known as the "New Tomorrowland" of 1967, is represented by rocket ships and accented by opalescent planets.
  • The Blue Fairy represents the debut of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
  • The Indiana Jones Adventure is represented by the evil Eye of Mara, guarded by snakes.
  • The 50th Anniversary of Disneyland is represented by fireworks and Tinker Bell.

The gold railings were also added into the second floor of the castle in order to differentiate itself from similar then-current Hong Kong Disneyland's castle which opened in the same year. Gold railing are still intact in almost 10 years.

Sixtieth anniversary[edit]

For Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, World of Color changed to the World of Color: Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. Disneyland Park introduced Paint The Night and a new fireworks show, "Disneyland Forever". A 24-hour kickoff event occurred May 22, 2015.

As part of the celebration, the castle was covered with diamonds and glitter, with a large 60th logo in the center. Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure was also decorated for the Diamond Celebration. Most of the decoration on the castle was removed shortly after the celebration, although the decorative faux roofs remained until January 2018.

Hong Kong Disneyland[edit]

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong's Sleeping Beauty Castle is a nearly identical copy of the original in California. However, the two castles can be differentiated through very subtle details. Hong Kong Disneyland uses a different color scheme compared to that of Disneyland, with more natural white and pink colours for the accents and cornice. It also has fewer trees surrounding its castle, allowing a more open view to accompany the nightly fireworks show.

The park's current castle will be completely redesigned and reconstructed in Summer 2020, as part of its 15th anniversary celebration. The castle will be redesigned to pay tribute to all Disney princesses. The castle closed on January 1, 2018.[8][9]

During the 5th Anniversary[edit]

In celebration of Hong Kong Disneyland's fifth anniversary, Celebration in the Air, the castle was transformed into Tinker Bell’s Pixie Dusted Castle. The castle was decorated with golden pixie dust, which sparkled and shimmered in the sun and was illuminated by night.

During the 10th Anniversary[edit]

Although no significant decorations were added to Hong Kong Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle for the park's 10th anniversary, the nightly "Disney In The Stars" fireworks show was added with elaborate projection mapping with visuals to compliment the display. This, however, resulted in the elimination of a few pyrotechnic elements launched from the front of the castle during the show.

Logo usage[edit]

As Sleeping Beauty Castle is a Disney icon, it and Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle have become the basis for the logo of Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Television, Disney Music Group and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It was also heavily featured in advertisements for the Wonderful World of Disney, formerly shown on the Disney Channel.


  1. ^ Imagineers (1998). Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real. Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-8372-3.
  2. ^ Smith, Alex (2008). Is Authenticity Important? (MA thesis). Royal College of Art. p. 79.
  3. ^ Pimental, Joseph (October 17, 2015). "One of Disneyland's many voices has an ear for magic". The Orange County Register. p. Local 1.
  4. ^ "Disney Coat of Arms / Disney Family Crest". 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  5. ^ Erik, Irrawaddy. "The Disney Crest | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  6. ^ "Daveland - Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland - June 1965)". Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  7. ^ "Daveland - Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland - July 1965)". Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Barnes, Brooks (November 22, 2016). "Hong Kong Disneyland, Seeking Return to Profit, Plans $1.4 Billion Upgrade". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  9. ^ Miller, Daniel (November 22, 2016). "Hong Kong Disneyland in line for a $1.4-billion expansion, adding a 'Frozen' themed land in a bid to boost growth". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 23, 2016.