A trip to Disneyland is only complete with a picture of you and the fam against a storybook castle backdrop. Yes, that magical piece of architecture tipped with blue spires!
Sitting at the heart of every Disney Park is a Disney Castle, which is the true icon of Walt Disney’s creations. In fact, it appears prominently in the Walt Disney Pictures logo.
There are six such royal structures across the globe, one for each of the fantasy locations. In this article, we’re taking you on a tour of Disney Castles around the world—Disney passports are not required!
1. Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort
Standing at 77 feet, Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is minuscule compared to its imposing brothers.
Eyvind Earle helped design the attraction, drawing inspiration from Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Funnily enough, the romantic theme of the Bavarian fortress was the idea of The Mad King himself, King Ludwig II.
Earle was the animation art director for Sleeping Beauty, so it’s no wonder the real thing is also a dead-ringer for the film version of the castle.
Sleeping Beauty castle made its debut on July 17, 1955. However, it wasn’t until two years later that visitors could set foot inside and roam around the palace.
The castle walks you through Princess Aurora’s life, from birth to her happily-ever-after ending.
- Disney Imagineers sprinkled some design magic—or forced perspective, technically—into the place to make it look colossal.
- The golden spike buried deep at the rear of the castle is a survey marker to ensure that the grand entrance was smack in the center of Main Street, USA.
- The drawbridge of the castle was only lowered twice—yes, it’s functional!
2. Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort
The Cinderella Castle is the centerpiece of the sprawling Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. It opened in July 1971, after 18 months of construction. In the truest embodiment of medieval fortifications, a moat surrounds the 183-foot edifice.
It is in Magic Kingdom and is the only Disney castle at Walt Disney World. The Disney parks Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom do not have castles.
The Magic Kingdom landmark is a Gothic revival of French palaces and chateaus, as well as other European influences. You can get a perfect view of Cinderella Castle while boating around the Seven Seas Lagoon.
In addition, the Disney World park castle features glass mosaics that provide an artistic retelling of Cinderella’s transformation from orphan to princess.
- You can only spend a night at the Cinderella Castle Suite if you win a contest or receive a special invite.
- It’s Walt Disney’s super-exclusive apartment in the Magic Kingdom, which he didn’t get to use because of his untimely demise in 1966.
- Cinderella’s Royal Table is decked with over 40 coats of arms, which represent VIPs within the Walt Disney Company.
- The brick walls of the castle’s exteriors are not actual bricks but fiber-reinforced materials!
3. Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland
The Oriental Land Company opened the Cinderella Castle and the Tokyo Disney Resort in 1983. At 168 feet, the castle is the slightly smaller twin of the one in the Magic Kingdom.
In 2006, it received a much-needed makeover to blur the similarities between the two. So now the spires are a lighter shade of blue, and the upper turrets are light pink and gold-trimmed.
Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall features artworks depicting the story of Cinderella. It leads to the Grand Hall where you’ll find her throne and sparkling glass slippers.
- The Cinderella Castle is one of the two castles in Tokyo Disneyland. The other one is Beast’s castle, which opened in 2010.
- Some paintings in the Grand Hall reveal a special message if you take flash photos of them.
4. Le Château de la Belle au Bois dormant at Disneyland Paris
The original name of the 167-foot chateau translates to “the castle of the beauty in the sleeping woods.” The Disneyland Paris castle, which was built in 1992, then adopted the name Sleeping Beauty Castle for non-French visitors.
Over the years, the Parisian palace has received several overlays to celebrate different milestones, including:
- 1st anniversary: A strawberry cake overlay (1993)
- 5th anniversary: A carnival overlay (1998)
- 10th anniversary: A golden scroll overlay (2002)
- 15th anniversary: Golden toppers of Disney characters holding a candle (2007)
- The Animatronics dragon in the caverns of the castle is 80 feet long and weighs 5,500 pounds.
- The castle has 16 towers to symbolize Princess Aurora’s age when Maleficent’s curse was set into motion.
- Escargot shells adorn the two golden towers in a nod to French culture.
- Inspired by cubist drawings in the Sleeping Beauty film, the landscaping around the castle features square trees.
- The castle has stained glass windows made by Paul Chapman, who worked on windows in Notre Dame in Paris, France.
Related Content: 15 Amazing Facts About Disneyland Paris
5. Castle of Magical Dreams at Hong Kong Disneyland
The Castle of Magical Dreams is a reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, which was first built in 2005. Hong Kong Disneyland unveiled the transformation in 2020 as a tribute to the 12 Disney princesses and 2 Frozen queens.
The above picture is what the castle originally looked like. It’s much taller now!
You can find the following attractions inside the 167-foot castle:
- The Royal Reception Hall
- A jewelry shop named Enchanted Treasures
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Botique
- During the park’s 5th anniversary, a sprinkling of Tinker Bell’s golden pixie dust made the castle shimmer in the sun.
- A Bauhinia floral pattern embellishes the castle’s front gates as a nod to Hong Kong’s culture.
- You’ll find the Princesses’ favorite things in and out of the castle. These include Belle’s rose, Snow White’s apple, and Mulan’s sidekick Mushu, to name a few.
6. Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort
Soaring 196 feet into Chinese skies, the Enchanted Storybook Castle dwarfs the rest of the Disney Castles.
The enormous structure, which was built in 2016, combines Renaissance architecture and Chinese elements in its design.
- The castle doesn’t have a Main Street or a Frontierland.
- A golden sculpture of a peony, which is a Chinese symbol of wealth, caps the tip of the castle’s highest spire.
- The castle steals the opening credits of the live-action film Mulan.
- The tow boat excursion called Voyage to the Crystal Grotto ends its journey in the underground chambers of the castle.
- It has castle shows, the Royal Banquet Hall, fireworks, stage shows, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and more.
All things considered, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris is our clear favorite. It’s whimsical and elegant at the same time. Plus, it’s the only one with a dragon inside!
Hopefully, you’ve found your pick from this complete list of Disney castles around the world.
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