The Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California is home to the smallest castle of any Disney park in the world. This combined with the age of the park leaves many to question which princesses castle the design is trying to represent.
The castle at Disneyland California is Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The castle is 77 feet tall and located at the end of Main Street USA. This castle was inspired by the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle which is located in Bavaria, Germany.
Inside this castle is a single ‘hotel room’ known as The Dream Suite. This is the only place guests can spend the night inside the Disneyland park.
However, there is no price tag for a night here. Instead, a stay in the room is used as a contest prize as well as for celebrities or dignitaries.
Disneyland Castle Facts
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland is perhaps the most famous Disney castle in the world. Here are some fun facts about the castle that Disney fans should know;
- The castle at Disneyland is officially called Sleeping Beauty Castle.
- The castle is 77 feet tall and made of concrete, steel, and fibreglass.
- This castle was one of the original attractions when the park opened on July 17, 1955.
- The castle’s original design was created by artist and Disney legend, Herb Ryman.
- The castle features a moat that is 100 feet wide and contains over 3 million gallons of water.
- The drawbridge in front of the castle has only been raised twice, once on opening day and again in 1983 to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary.
- The castle’s interior features a walkthrough attraction that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty through dioramas and other exhibits.
- The castle’s exterior is decorated with over 100,000 LED lights during the holiday season.
- The castle was temporarily renamed “Snow White Castle” in 1983 to promote the re-release of the film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- The castle was remodelled and refurbished in 2019, adding new design elements and features.
- The castle’s spires are adorned with 22-karat gold leaf.
- The castle’s design was inspired by several European castles, most notably the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
- The castle features a suite on the upper level that was originally intended for Walt Disney and his family to use but was never completed until 2008 and is now used for special promotions and giveaways.
- The castle features a small drawbridge on the back side that is only visible from the Fantasyland Theater area.
Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle Story
Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland California was inspired by the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle which is located in Bavaria, Germany.
While on vacation in Europe with his wife, Walt Disney’s imagination was captured by the flamboyant artistry and exquisite attention to detail showcased in the architecture at Neuschwanstein.
This extraordinary palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1869 as a private retreat.
The regular remodelling that went on to take place at this Bavarian property also made it a great candidate to be a Disney model as timelessness was an important factor to the Walt Disney Imagineering team at this time.
If you look at both the real castle and the Disney one, the similarities are easy to spot, particularly in the design of the elegant turrets and tall storybook-themed spires. Neuschwanstein Castle remains one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions today.
Walt Disney first opened the gates at Disneyland and lowered the majestic drawbridge on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in July 1955.
The grand opening was a highly anticipated and spectacular affair, with knights on horseback blowing trumpets and parading in front of the castle. As the draw bridge dropped to signal the official opening, hundreds of super excited youngsters flooded through the gateway and into Fantasyland. A truly iconic moment in Disney’s history.
📍 Fun Fact: Before the opening of the park in 1955 and the re-opening of Fantasyland following its makeover are the only times the working drawbridge has been up.
The castle was reimagined and redesigned for the 50th anniversary and this time incorporated the exquisite style of Eyvind Earle, the artist whose extraordinary work bought Sleeping Beauty to life in its film form.
How The Disneyland Castle Propelled The Sleeping Beauty Film To Success
Now for some interesting Disney trivia. It is a common myth that the castle here belongs to Cinderella.
However, Cinderella’s castle is in fact found at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
That being said, there’s good reason for this misconception as Disneyland opened its gates for the first time in 1955, yet the Sleeping Beauty film didn’t premiere until four years later in 1959.
Meanwhile, the Cinderella film was released in 1950 so many people assumed the castle was hers.
However, that was not the case, in what turned out to be a very clever marketing ploy on the part of Walt Disney Co.
Visitors to the Disney park were in awe of this magnificent fairy tale castle, and of its resident, Princess Aurora, but were left wondering who she was and, indeed, what her story was.
Anticipation and curiosity naturally built and so when the Sleeping Beauty movie was released it was an instant success.
This was a stroke of Disney genius from the marketing department as they cleverly promoted a film that was still only in its earliest stages of production.
A sad side note here is that Sleeping Beauty’s castle in California is the only one that the creative legend himself, Walt Disney, was alive to see completed.
The next Disney castle to be constructed was Cinderellas at Disney world and this was not completed until 1971, which was five years after Walt passed away.
Despite the Disneyland park opening to guests in 1955, the castle’s interior wasn’t seen until 1957. However, Sleeping Beauty’s walkthrough castle attraction was worth the wait, as inside is every bit as spellbinding as you might imagine.
Today, magical winding passageways lead to innovative three-dimensional displays and models that tell the story of Sleeping Beauty as you make your way through.
Castles Inside Other Disney Parks Around The World
The castles at Disney parks across the globe are famous for their life-size castles, dedicated to the stars of the films, the Disney princesses.
No visit to any of the parks is complete without the obligatory family selfie in front of the castle. Each park centrepiece is unique in some way, as we will now discover.
📍 Fun Fact: There is only one castle at each of the Disney Resorts around the world. Therefore since Disneyland has a castle, there is no castle inside the Disney California Adventure Park.
Cinderella’s Castle At Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort
Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world. This park opened on the 1st of October 1971 and features a castle inspired by the fairy tale of Cinderella.
This castle stands at 189 feet tall (more than twice the size of the castle at Disneyland) and is made from steel, concrete and fibreglass.
Inside Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll find Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant. This restaurant is designed to look like a medieval banquet hall and features stained glass windows, suits of armour, and other medieval decor.
Here you’ll also find the impressive mosaic mural that depicts the story of Cinderella. The mural is made up of more than 300,000 pieces of glass in 500 different colours and is a stunning piece of artwork to behold.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle At Shanghai Disneyland
Much like the castle at the Disneyland in Hong Kong, the castle in Shanghai Disneyland it’s not based on any single Disney princess or story but is instead meant to represent all of the Disney princesses and their stories in one unified structure.
This is the largest and most elaborate Disney castle in the world and stands 197 feet tall (more than 2.5x the height of the castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California).
The Enchanted Storybook Castle features a blend of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque influences.
The castle features several towers, turrets, and spires that have been painted in soft pastel colours and are adorned with flags and banners.
One of the most popular attractions inside the castle is the Once Upon a Time Adventure.
This interactive attraction allowed you to step through the Magic Mirror portal and enter an enchanted dimension of wonder: Snow White’s fairy-tale world.
Cinderella’s Castle At Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland is home to Cinderella’s Castle which was originally designed as an almost perfect replica of the castle found at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. However, in recent years the castle has been repainted to give it a sense of uniqueness.
This castle stands 167 feet tall (more than twice the size of the castle at Disneyland) and features a blend of architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance influences, and is topped by five gold-tipped turrets. The castle’s exterior is predominantly white and grey, with blue roof tiles and gold accents.
Inside the castle, guests can explore several themed areas, including a large circular hall that features a beautiful mosaic of Cinderella and her fairy godmother.
The castle also features the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall which serves a variety of Disney-themed dishes and snacks.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle At Disneyland Paris
The Disneyland Paris castle is a continuation of the Sleeping Beauty castle featured at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
This castle stands 165 feet tall (more than double that of the castle at Disneyland) and is made of pink-hued stone, which gives it a warm and inviting appearance. It is surrounded by a moat that guests can cross via a drawbridge.
The castle’s architecture is heavily inspired by French Gothic and Renaissance styles, and it features several towers, turrets, and spires.
From Fantasyland, behind the castle, you’re able to walk through the castle and see several galleries that showcase scenes from the story of Sleeping Beauty, including dioramas, tapestries, and stained glass windows.
The castle also houses La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty using a series of interactive displays and special effects.
There is often no wait time for this attraction, however, it is dark inside and guests will need to be able to navigate a number of stairs (no wheelchair access as far as we are aware).
Castle of Magical Dreams At Hong Kong Disneyland
The castle at Hong Kong Disneyland was re-imagined and transformed to re-open in 2020 as The Castle of Magical Dreams.
This castle is 164 feet tall, and subsequently the tallest structure inside the park.
The castle’s architecture is inspired by different styles of castles from around the world, including European, Asian, and Middle Eastern influences and features an array of colours, decorations, and architectural details that make it one of the most beautiful Disney castles in the world.
The castle has 13 towers, each representing a different Disney princess, including Belle, Cinderella, Elsa, Tiana, and Moana.
Each tower is adorned with beautiful murals, turrets, and other decorative elements that reflect the story and personality of the princess it represents.
Inside the castle, guests can explore several themed areas, including a grand hall, a museum gallery, and an interactive exhibit space that showcases the story and magic of Disney princesses.
Much like inside Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the Castle of Magical Dreams is also home to a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where young guests can have a magical princess makeover and transformation.