Sleeping Beauty: 60 Years of Inspiration for Disney Parks!

January 29, 2019

Disneyland Paris shared a very interesting article in honor of the 60th anniversary of Sleeping Beauty and how it was an inspiration for the Disney Parks. Here below you can read this article:


60 years ago today was released in theaters Sleeping Beauty, one of the most famous Disney animation masterpiece. The castle of the film is still the icon of many Disney Parks, first and foremost Disneyland Park in California, which opened four years before the release of the cartoon. Let's take a closer look at the history of this castle ...

When Walt Disney begins planning his "little magical park" that will become Disneyland in Anaheim, California, he plans to erect a fairytale castle. Since 1955, Sleeping Beauty Castle, located at the center of Disneyland Park , is the symbol of dreams and magic, and has since become a Disney icon. This version is based on European castles, and more precisely that of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Modest in scope, he uses forced perspective to make him look bigger than he is. Disneyland Castle will then be recreated identically in 2005 in Hong Kong Disneyland (it is currently undergoing deep remodeling).

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort in Florida) and its copy of Tokyo Disneyland, are inspired by European castles including castles of the Loire. For Disneyland Paris, the designers of Walt Disney Imagineering came back to the concept of Sleeping Beauty Castle, but being in France, they wanted to build a castle different from all that can be seen in Europe. Through the interweaving of architectural, natural and whimsical elements, they have created a timeless and impressive structure that defies reality. Inspired by both the fairy tale of Charles Perrault and the animated film from the Disney studios released in 1959, this mythical castle evokes the hopes and dreams of youth in a majestic Gothic architecture. The Castle contains an attraction, La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant and two shops: Merlin the Enchanter and La Boutique du Château.

References to the film

The design is partly inspired by illustrations from the book The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry. The illuminated medieval manuscript of this book had already influenced the drawings of the Disney artist Eyvind Earle for the Disney Classic Sleeping Beauty.

Cubes-shaped trees, reminiscent of those in the film, are grouped around the Castle by a grove of three or four, varying in height from two to five meters (from 6 ½ to 16 ½ feet). Topiary artists have chosen to use Arizona cypress and yew trees for their density and evergreen leaves to create these characteristic cubic-shaped trees that beautify the landscape.

Above the entrance of the Castle shines a "polarized" window. A polarizing filter rotates behind the oval window, creating ever-changing kaleidoscopic effects beneath the tinted glass. Inside, this stained glass window evokes the gifts made to Princess Aurora by the fairies Flora and Fauna during her baptism; a rose (symbol of beauty) and a couple of doves (symbolizing the singing) alternate on this stained glass window. At the top of the main tower, an oval stained glass window remains lit, indicating the presence of the princess in her Castle, referring to the light that was lit at Chambord castle when the king was in residence.

Characters in the story of Sleeping Beauty live in the castle in petrified forms of figurines or in bas-reliefs. They also appear in stained glass that can be seen from both inside and outside. The squirrels, the birds, the raven of Maleficent (Diablo), and the three good fairies Flora (in pink in the film), Fauna (in green) and Merryweather (in blue) are found in many architectural details, as well as on the stained glass windows and tapestries of the Sleeping Beauty Gallery on the first floor.

The interior of La Boutique du Château includes a stone fireplace decorated with a scene from the movie Sleeping Beauty in which the friends of the Princess (the owl, a squirrel, two birds and two rabbits) that she meets in the forest disguises itself as a prince. On the ceiling, the barrel vaults, decorated with ornate ornaments, are similar to those of the ceilings of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe and were particularly inspired by those of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

Located outside at the foot of the Castle, the Castle Stage, serves as a stage for shows featuring various Disney characters. The first production to be presented on this stage was the story of Sleeping Beauty. A giant book with scenery scenes that unfolded on each page served as a frame for the various scenes of the show. Other shows like Winnie the Pooh and Friends too also took place on this stage that hosts punctual shows or meetings with Disney characters. This open-air theater was made on the model of those found in French gardens of the 18th and 19th century, as in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles for example. The space where visitors sit is made of flat stone benches and sprinkled with shrubs.

In music

Upon entering the Castle, visitors may recognize different songs, all on the theme of greetings, such as "When You Wish Upon A Star", made famous by the friend and the conscience of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, or "Once Upon A Dream", the ballad sung by Princess Aurora as she dreams to Prince Philippe. The new orchestral arrangements have been recorded specifically for Disneyland Paris. The music inside the shop comes from the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" and other Disney themes and is played in the tone of a music box. Songs of medieval music add to the boutique's enchanting atmosphere.

Some facts and figures

  • The Castle is 43 meters (141 feet) high. The tallest tower measures 16.8 meters (55 feet) and weighs 15 tons.
  • It took the tallest crane in Europe at the time, 91 meters (almost 300 feet) to paint the Castle.
  • When Disneyland Park opened, the lair's Dragon was the largest AudioAnimatronics® character in the world; it is 3 meters (10 feet) high, 24.07 meters (79 feet) long and weighs 2,250 kilos (5,000 pounds).
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle is also the name of the castles at Disneyland Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom castles of Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland are called Cinderella Castle.
  • Like all Disney castles, The Sleeping Beauty Castle is oriented to the North. This ensures that the sun never goes behind and prevents visitors from taking a picture of it from Main Street, U.S.A.

Photos and information by Disneyland Paris.