Which Disney Parks Castle is Your Favorite?
We’ve been celebrating The Walt Disney Company’s 100th Anniversary since earlier this year, but today is the actual day of the anniversary! There are all kinds of things going on, like new Disney100 merchandise, a new interactive TikTok experience, and even celebrations from Disney on Broadway.
And now, in honor of the 100th Anniversary, Disney is sharing some history behind their iconic theme park castles!
Disney Castles Around the World
We gotta start with the very first castle, right? Sleeping Beauty Castle is in Disneyland park and is modeled after several medieval castles in Europe.
The castle is 77 feet tall but was designed on a smaller scale so that it would be more welcoming than your typical historical structures. That’s why Sleeping Beauty Castle looks so little when you walk down Main Street, U.S.A.
Disney shared some pictures of the castle under construction in the spring of 1955, as well as two months before July 17th, which was the park’s opening date.
Sleeping Beauty Castle is the smallest of all the Disney Parks castles, but it was the very first! And, as Disney put it, it served “as a comparative inspiration for Magic Kingdom-style parks around the world.”
Walt Disney World
The next castle, as you might’ve guessed, is Cinderella Castle over at Magic Kingdom in Disney World! The castle took about 18 months to build and was there for opening day in 1971.
Cinderella Castle was made using steel, concrete, cement, plaster, and fiberglass. This is different from the traditional way to make European castles, which used a brick structure.
But, you will still find some nods to European architecture in the castle, which Disney describes as a “Romanesque, fortress-like base” with a “Gothic upper portion of the structure.”
The castle stands at 189-feet tall and has been changed from its original look of grey, blue, and gold into the 50th anniversary EARidescent makeover of royal blue, gold, and pink. I personally hope the original blue and grey colors come back at some point because it’s a better look, but we will see.
Cinderella Castle has also seen several other temporary looks over the years, including that iconic birthday cake look it sported for Disney World’s 25th Anniversary.
Tokyo Disneyland also has a Cinderella Castle, which was modeled after the one in Magic Kingdom and debuted in 1983. The outside was repainted in 2006, but this Cinderella Castle has kept more of the original color palette than the one in Magic Kingdom.
This was the very first Disney castle to be built internationally! It helped create a path towards future international Disney parks, which is a big deal.
Next up, we have the castle over in Disneyland Paris — Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, AKA Sleeping Beauty Castle. This debuted in 1992 as Disneyland Paris’ centerpiece.
This particular castle is unlike any others in the entire world. Disney Imagineers went for a more “fairytale-inspired appearance” than anything inspired by a castle in real life.
They combined architecture, nature, and fantasy, and they also took inspiration from some French monuments! The castle combines traditional French elements, like gothic shapes and stained glass, with more fantastical Disney details.
When looking at this castle, you should keep an eye out for the oval stained-glass window, which is permanently lit at the top of the main tower. This signifies a royal presence, just like the Château de Chambord in France did when France’s king was in residence.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Heading back over to Asia brings us to Hong Kong Disneyland. The castle over here is a recreation of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort and opened in Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005.
But, the castle actually underwent a huge change in 2020. It was transformed into the Castle of Magical Dreams, which Disney says is a “one-of-a-kind symbol of magic.”
The castle is inspired by the Disney Princesses and queens from different Disney and Pixar films, like Mulan, Moana, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Ariel.
Certain details of the castle are designed to represent each character, like the towers and domes. The tower dedicated to Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) is the tallest, which is a nod to the original Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Disney Imagineers also took the mountains of Lantau Island in the background into account when designing the new look of the castle. The castle’s trees and foliage blend the architecture into the natural landscape around the park.
Finally, let’s take a look at the Enchanted Storybook Castle from Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016. This is the tallest structure in the park!
The storybook inside is magic, bringing its pages to life in the form of the enchanted castle. When looking at the castle, you’ll see warm tones of the granite and limestone building materials along with glowing windows framed with Baroque flourishes.
The castle has seven towers, two of which reflect Shanghai Disneyland’s guiding principles of “Authentically Disney, Distinctly Chinese.” They have traditional Chinese cloud patterns and peonies (which is China’s national flower), along with Disney stars and a crown with several Disney Princess symbols.
Each Disney theme park castle is unique in its own way, but they all blend recognizable Disney features and a touch of magic with the surrounding cultures and landscapes over wherever the castle is located. Looking back at all of them is a great way to reflect on the past 100 years of The Walt Disney Company!
Stay tuned for more Disney news and updates!