One of the very first images that comes to mind when any Guest thinks about Walt Disney World is the stunning Cinderella Castle in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. Fit for royalty, Cinderella Castle is covered with tremendous detail and theming which helps Guests to truly feel as though they have stepped into a fairytale when they are near it.
Cinderella Castle is one of the most photographed buildings in the world, yet many of the small details and facts about it often go overlooked by Guests. From history to architecture and more, there are plenty of details about the building that are amazing and should be celebrated.
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Imagineer Herb Ryman was the main designer behind Cinderella Castle, and he drew on a variety of inspirations including real life locations such as Neuschwanstein, Fonainebleau, and Versailles. Ryman also integrated his own experience from designing Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland as well as the actual animation of the castle in “Cinderella.” The result was the beautiful Cinderella Castle that Guests know and love today that has since been recreated in Disney Parks throughout the word.
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Cinderella Castle opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971 after eighteen months of construction and towers over the Magic Kingdom, often being visible from many corners of the Disney Park. Forced perspective was utilized when constructing Cinderella Castle, so while it may seem to be hundreds of feet tall, the highest spire only tops out at one hundred and eighty nine feet. The forced perspective helps create the illusion of greater height by gradually reducing the scale of each level of Cinderella Castle and eagle-eyed Guests can spot this technique used often throughout all of the Walt Disney World Resort.
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Since Central Florida is prone to some intense weather, particularly hurricanes and high winds, Imagineers designed Cinderella Castle to be able to withstand harsh elements. The building might look as though it is made of stone like a true castle, but it was actually crafted using fiberglass which is lightweight and able to stand up to the elements. The artisans who crafted the stonework on the exterior of Cinderella Castle truly did an amazing job making each brick look completely authentic!
Over the years, Cinderella Castle has seen a variety of changes, beginning with an overhaul in 1996 that transformed the building into a massive pink birthday cake to celebrate the Walt Disney World Resort’s twenty fifth birthday. This bright pink version of Cinderella Castle was either loved or hated by Guests, and it is hard to believe that the iconic structure was sitting underneath all that frosting for the yearlong celebration!
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In 2004, Cinderella Castle was “vandalized” for a day as a promotion for opening day of Stitch’s Great Escape. The structure was covered in long strands of toilet paper and graffiti reading “Stitch is King!” to capture the naughty antics and hijinks that Stitch is so beloved for. Not long after in 2005, Cinderella Castle received some changes as part of a celebration for Disneyland’s fiftieth birthday and golden representations of characters and decorative swirls were added around the upper levels.
The most recent change to Cinderella Castle has come with the Walt Disney World Resort’s fiftieth anniversary celebration. A new paint scheme with more pink tones has been added as well as golden accents on the spires and balconies. The opulent makeover was completed with a large medallion on the main front balcony that features a “50th” emblem in shining gold.
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One of the most intricate details of Cinderella Castle can be found inside of the breezeway that links the main courtyard with Fantasyland. The breezeway is lined by a series of mosaic murals that depict the most memorable scenes from “Cinderella.” Taking over two years to complete, each scene was designed by artist Dorthea Redmond and then physically crafted by Hanns-Joachim Scharff who also created the extensive mosaic mural outside of The Land Pavilion in Epcot. Each mosaic is beautifully detailed right down to the stepsisters being green with envy and red with rage when the glass slipper fits Cinderella.
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The interior of Cinderella Castle is home to several designated spaces including Cinderella’s Royal Table, a table service restaurant open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner where Guests can dine like royalty amongst the Disney Princesses. The interior of the restaurant features family crests of Imagineers as well as Jaq and Gus watching Guests from above on a small beam along one wall.
The Cinderella Castle Suite was created in 2006 as part of the Year of A Million Dreams promotion and is located in one of the upper levels of Cinderella Castle. This opulent suite is typically reserved for special promotions, contests, and other rare uses, but it is decorated with indulgent features, many nods to the Disney Princesses, ornate woodwork and carvings, and a large tub with fiber optic stars twinkling in the night sky above. Guests who want to spot the Cinderella Castle Suite from the exterior should look for a trio of vertical windows on the rear of the building facing Fantasyland.
On the rear of Cinderella Castle, Guests can also spot a coat of arms on a rounded balcony overlooking Fantasyland. The crest is that of the Disney family and features a lion standing guard atop a knight’s helmet and three other lions with intricate carvings on either side. The Disney family crest can also be found on Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland and is a wonderful way to honor the legacy of Walt Disney in the Disney Parks he loved so much.
Cinderella Castle is undoubtedly the most recognized building at the Walt Disney World Resort, and all Guests who visit the Magic Kingdom should be sure to take the time to explore its beauty and enjoy all of the small details that help make it such a wonderful icon.
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