Cinderella Castle is an icon located in Orlando which is a staple to the Disney brand and brings imagination to life. According to the Disney World website, it is “ A Fairytale Come to Life” and where “dreams come true” (Walt Disney World).The castle's imagery has become so recognizable that it, along with its predecessor the Sleeping Beauty Castle in California, is also used as a logo for many departments it in the Walt Disney Company, including Walt Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Television, and Walt Disney Pictures. According to DPA about 35,000 visitors from around the world travel just to come see this iconic landmark and that was after Covid, before that it was an estimated 57,000 and for some this is a dream come true and they are in awe by how big the castle actually is. The first time you see the castle it is something you will never forget.
Construction and Design:
The castle, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, underwent 18 months of construction before being completed in July of 1971. Though there were plenty of muses behind the project, the direct inspiration for the design of this fantasy residence came from the animated Cinderella movie that was distributed by Walt Disney pictures in 1950, and on an even broader scale the inspiration behind that animation was the real life Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The iconic blue tops of the castle's turrets are one of the features that most closely align with the Bavarian castle, which has seen an increase in tourist travel since the premiere of Disney's classic film; both castles are now popular wedding destinations!
Perception is everything when it comes to this structure, and forced perspective was used here to create the illusion of a towering building. Though the bottom layer is in fact built to scale, as you go up in floors the scaling becomes less realistic. The size is not the only deceptive feature though, many would believe that this castle was built with brick by looking at it, but truly it is 600 tons of steel structures covered with concrete and patterned/painted to appear brick-like. The roofs are also quite tricky, being made in actuality from plastic, much like what you would find from recycling computers or electronic devices and covering a steel frame much like the walls underneath.
The castle was originally intended to be over 200 feet tall, but architects and imagineers (Disney parks engineers) learned from local government sources that any building 200 ft or higher must be equipped with airplane safety lighting at the top. to keep aircraft from flying too low as the castle's location is very close to the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Imagineers did not want to ruin the look of the castle by having these additional lights, so because of these regulations the building was scaled slightly down and now proudly stands 189 feet above visitors to the Magic Kingdom, a paragon of magic and fantasy.
The castle is actually made above ground level so it is actually built on the second level. Below the castle are actually underground tunnels that help workers get around. Which is pretty impressive. Walt wanted this castle to be bigger than the one in California. Florida is not the only one with Cinderella's castle as the park icon, Tokyo Disneyland also has one as well. But of course it is done a little bit differently than the one in Florida.
Cinderella Castle was inspired by 8 castles, the Fontainebleau in Versailles, Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Alcazar of Segovia Castle in Segovia, Moszna Castle in Poland, Tyn Church in Czech Republic and Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau de Pierrefonds, Chateau de Chambord, and Chateau de Chaumont all in France (Dahlgrhen, 2015). Cinderella Castle has seen several looks over the years, including being transformed into a giant birthday cake for the park's 25th anniversary, being covered in toilet paper and graffiti to celebrate the opening of Stitch's Great Escape in Tomorrowland, and a gold overlay to mark the "Cinderellabration" where all of the Disney Parks castles joined in the fun to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA. Of course there are season looks to the castle as well, with festive decor to mark the fall and winter holidays. During Christmas time from they would add what was called "Dream Lights" which later changed to "Elsa Lights" to the castle and the castle was full of pretty dangling lights. Now it is simply just projections on the castle to make the castle look like a present. The castle puts an extra emphasis on Halloween and Christmas as there are special events, shows, and parades which happen during these time frames. In 2020, Cinderella Castle underwent a royal makeover and the world renowned blue and grey structure became a glistening rose gold with deep blue turrets that would make any princess swoon. Additionally, the castle is a centerpiece for the nightly pyrotechnic display of colorful fireworks, which also change for major holidays, including a projection show on the outer shell. During these nightly spectaculars guests can also see the iconic flight of Tinker Bell (weather permitting) via a zip line wire which reaches from the Castle's highest turret to the roof of the Main Street bakery.
As wonderful to look at as Cinderella Castle is, it is also a functional building where inside the ornately decorated mosaic walls which depict the story of Cinderella (using over 300,000 pieces of glass!), one will find the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique which is a royal makeover salon for young princes and princesses, as well as Cinderella’s Royal Table where guests are provided with a full service gourmet character dining experience. Higher up in the castle is the Cinderella Castle Suite, accommodations in which are used as sweepstakes giveaways occasionally and the suite can only be viewed by guests if they win the chance or through certain VIP tours that the park's guest relations department offers. Of course like any good castle should, Cinderella Castle features a moat surrounding the base of the structure which holds an estimate of 3.37 million gallons of water when it is filled, and though the moat changes the drawbridge over it stays down permanently and cannot go up like the Disneylands castle could, for the safety of all guests and cast members.
Photos Inside the Castle:
Cinderella Castle as a statement piece:
The Orlando park was a dream of Walt Disney's, but he did not live to see the final product and in fact passed away 5 years prior to the finished castle's unveiling which was done by his brother, Roy Disney. Roy Disney is also sitting next to Minnie Mouse as a statue on the bench in Main Street U.S.A. Many believe that the beauty and majestic welcome that the castle provides was intended to stand as a symbol at its time of the average American woman and her role in society. A female was expected to be oriented to the family, a gracious presence of warmth ushering guests into the home, much as this glittering castle does for guests of the park. It comes as no surprise that the architecture of the castle was meant to display romanticized ideals of a woman's role, as this castle was a dream of a man who chose not to see the progress of feminism or equal rights and lived as though he were still in the 1940s/1950s. Much of Disney's work to this point depicted the classic damsel in distress and hero relationship, there was no real presence of strong female leads until well after Walt's death. The parks became successful at creating a safe haven for the upper middle class white society of America who could afford a place to escape suburbia and be entranced in a story rather than facing the changing political climate of the late 60s/ early 70s. The castle also serves the gateway to the rest of the park's attractions. Cinderella castle is for dreamers of all ages and times have changed from when the castle was first built. People from everywhere and all ages can enjoy Disney. It is now more of a symbol for following your heart and making your dreams come true and reaching out and doing what makes you happy.
Cinderella Castle changed its look once again back in 2020 when the park had just reopened from quarantine. It just so happened to be for the park's 50th anniversary. It is now painted Rose gold and blue for the park's celebration or as Disney called it "EARidescent". Throughout the 50th it even had a 50th medallion on the front of the castle that was taken down in March of 2023 when they officially stopped the celebration for the 50th. The Cinderella Castle has gone through many different changes throughout it’s now 50-plus years and it is exciting to see what is to come next. Every night a fire work show happens in front of the Cinderella Castle and projections from various movies are displayed on the castle. The current firework show is called "Happily Ever After" and they have holiday shows that are showcased during that specific season.
Park Ticket Prices (Online):
Florida Resident Weekday 2-day ticket: $97.50/Day ($195 per ticket)
Florida Resident 1,3,4 day-based ticket: $109/day ($109 per ticket)
Standard 1 day based ticket: $109/day ($109 per ticket)
Ticket prices may vary due to time of year.
Photo Credits Due:
https://allears.net/2019/07/15/__trashed/ (Stitch & Birthday Cake)
/wdwnt.com/2023/01/happily-ever-after-showtimes-announced-for-magic-kingdom-return/ (Happily Ever After)
/www.housebeautiful.com/about/a30999953/disney-world-cinderella-castle-makeover/ (Cinderella Castle currently)
/www.undercovertourist.com/blog/cinderellas-royal-table-magic-kingdom/ (Cinderellas Royal Table)
/www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/disney-vacations/how-to-stay-in-the-cinderella-castle-suite-magic-kingdom-walt-disney (Inside the Cinderella Castle Suite)