Sleeping Beauty Castle

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This article is about a structure at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland. For the structure at Disneyland Park (Paris), see Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. For the structures at the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland, see Cinderella Castle.
Sleeping Beauty Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle DLR.jpg
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park.
Area Fantasyland
Coordinates 33°48′46″N 117°55′08″W / 33.81276°N 117.91894°W / 33.81276; -117.91894
Status Operating
Opening date July 17, 1955
Hong Kong Disneyland
Area Fantasyland
Coordinates 22°18′45″N 114°02′28″E / 22.31262°N 114.04113°E / 22.31262; 114.04113
Status Operating
Opening date September 12, 2005
General statistics
Attraction type Castle
Theme Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty Castle is the fairy tale structure castle at the center of Disneyland Park, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. It is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany,[1] with some French inspirations (especially Notre Dame de Paris and the Hospices de Beaune).

Disneyland version[edit]

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. Its primary inspiration was the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.[2] Though it reaches a height of only 77 feet (23 m), it was designed by Herbert Ryman[3] to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective; 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, visitors were able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. The voice of Cliff Edwards singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" is piped into the castle.[4] 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 in October 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. 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 Disney family coat of arms hangs above the archway to the castle.[5] It is composed of three lions passant in pale.[6] It is known that the coat of arms was not originally on the castle, but was placed there sometime between June 1965 [7] and July 1965.[8]

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, 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.

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.

Hong Kong Disneyland version[edit]

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong's Sleeping Beauty Castle is a nearly identical copy of the original in California. The rooftops of the Hong Kong castle use a dark shade of blue while the original castle uses a lighter blue shade so the original's rooftops appear shinier, using the reflection of sunlight. In Hong Kong, the castle looks more medieval, with natural white and pink colors for the accents and cornice, while the original uses more golden accents, cornice and decorations, giving it a more fairy-tale look during the day. The Hong Kong castle is surrounded by fewer trees than California's so that fireworks viewed from the plaza to the castle in Hong Kong is wider, while the original castle's view is blocked by tall trees.

Fifth 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.

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. ^ "See the Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle". 2013-08-25. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  2. ^ Smith, Alex (2008), Is Authenticity Important? (PDF), Royal College of Art, retrieved 2011-01-3
  3. ^ "Animating the Disney Parks: Herb Ryman". 
  4. ^ Pimental, Joseph (October 17, 2015). "One of Disneyland's many voices has an ear for magic". The Orange County Register. p. Local 1. 
  5. ^ "Disney Coat of Arms / Disney Family Crest". 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  6. ^ Erik, Irrawaddy. "The Disney Crest | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Daveland Disneyland Photo". Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  8. ^ "Daveland Disneyland Photo". Retrieved 2011-12-29.