Cinderella Castle is the fairytale castle at the center of two Disney theme parks, the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Both serve as worldwide recognized icons for their respective theme parks.
Cinderella Castle was inspired by several French castles, most notably Château de Pierrefonds, Château d'Ussé in France, Fontainebleau, Versailles, and the chateaux of Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, Chaumont, and the Alcázar in Segovia, Spain. Neuschwanstein Castle was the original inspiration for Walt Disney in his concept for the castle in the classic animated feature Cinderella...and thus Cinderella Castle is based on the movie's portrayal .
Cinderella Castle appears to be made of white and grey stone with royal blue roofs on their turrets; the tops of several towers and two of the tallest spires are made with real gold and gold leaf. Despite appearances, no bricks were used in its construction; the inner structure is constructed of six-hundred tons of steel braced frame construction, and a ten inch thick reinforced concrete wall encircles the structure to the full height of the outermost "stone" walls. All of the steel and concrete works are supported on a concrete drilled caisson foundation. In spite of the fact that this is not a genuine fortress, it is the next best thing structurally speaking. Much less fiberglass is used than is popularly supposed. Rather, most of the exterior is a thick, very hard fiber-reinforced gypsum plaster that is supported by light gauge metal studs. Most fiberglass work is reserved for the exterior walls of more ornate upper towers. The roofs are not fiberglass, either. They are shingled in the same type of plastic that computer monitor shells are made from, attached to a cone of light gauge steel sheeting over the steel sub-frame. These towers were lifted by crane, then welded and bolted permanently to the main structure. Contrary to a popular legend, the Castle cannot be taken apart in the event of a hurricane. It would take months to disassemble, it would be too dangerous to operate the 300 foot (91.4 m) crane required in windy conditions, and there would have to be a safer building to keep it in; it was simpler to design it to handle a hurricane. It can easily withstand the 110 mph (175 km/h) design wind speeds in Central Florida with a great deal of strength in reserve.
Cinderella Castle is also surrounded by a moat, which contains approximately 3.37 million gallons (12.76 megaliters) of water; however, unlike the drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, Cinderella Castle can not raise its drawbridge. There are a total of 27 towers on the castle, each numbered 1-29-- tower numbers 13 and 17 were deleted before construction when it was realized that they could not really be seen from anywhere in the park, due mainly to the other Fantasyland buildings. The tower with the clock in front is 10, the tallest is 20. 23 is the other golden-roofed tower.
Originally, a suite was built for Walt Disney and his family, but since Disney died before the park opened, it was turned into an office. There are three elevators inside the castle. One is for guest use and goes between the lobby of Cinderella's Royal table, and the second floor where the restaurant is. The second is for restaurant staff use, and is located in tower 2 to the left of the drawbridge. It has landings in the Utilidors, the mezzanine level in a break room, and on the second floor in the kitchen. The third elevator is in tower 20, and services the Utilidors, the breezeway, the kitchen of Cinderella's Royal Table, and the Cinderella Castle Suite. The suite is about 30 feet below the level where the cable is attached to tower 20. Access to the cable is by ladder. Since January 2007 the suite has been used as a prize for the Disney Dreams Giveaway at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Year Of A Million Dreams Celebration.
Guests have an opportunity to spend a night in the castle if they win the Giveaway. Guests could be approached by a Disney cast member at any time in one of the four theme parks and informed that they have won a prize. The chance to stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite is just one of the many prizes.
Cinderella Castle was designed so that it was tall enough that it could be seen from the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom, where many guests took ferries from the parking lot to the gates of the park. In theme park jargon, Cinderella Castle was conceived as the primary visual magnet (known in Disney parlance as a 'weenie') that draws new entering guests through Main Street, U.S.A. towards the central hub, from where all other areas can be reached.
The castle was repainted in the Fall of 2006, and now is a slightly off white, brown and pinkish color, and the turrets are a much darker blue.
It is generally considered to be a carbon copy of the Magic Kingdom's castle. However, from 1986-2006, a popular walk-through attraction called the "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" was featured within the castle. In June 2006, the castle was repainted, to differentiate it from Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The castle now has gold trimmings, the rooftops have been painted a different shade of blue, and the white stone of the turrets now has a tan/dirty-pink color.
When the sun sets, the castle is illuminated in 16.7 million colors, thanks to Vari-Lite intelligent lighting fixtures placed on different Castle levels and surrounding the castle. The castle itself plays a role in the Magic Kingdom's fireworks show, Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, in which it changes color in synchronization with the dramatic music of the display. The same color changing and effects occurs for the other fireworks shows: HalloWishes (in Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), Magic, Music and Mayhem (during Disney's Pirate and Princess Party) and the Christmas fireworks show Holiday Wishes during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
At the park's closing, the nightly 'Kiss Goodnight' is performed, in which Roy O. Disney's dedication speech for the Magic Kingdom is played all over the park alongside classic Disney music which changes with the vivid colors of the castle. When the park closes before 11pm, the show is performed again at 11pm providing entertainment for guests of Disney resort hotels bordering the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Beginning November 2007, for the first time, the "Castle Dream Lights", with over 200,000 LED Christmas lights, covered Cinderella Castle and was lit nightly during a new stage show in front of the castle. The castle would look like ice and was very popular among guests during the Holiday Seasons.
Inside the Castle's archway, a series of five mosaic murals tells the story of Cinderella. Designed by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and crafted and set in place by a team of six artists led by mosaicist Hanns-Joachim Scharff, the 15 by 10 foot (4.6x3 m), ornate panels are shaped in a Gothic arch. The murals took 22 months to complete, and contain just over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass and rough smalti (glass made specifically for mosaics traditionally used by Italian craftsmen) in over 500 colors. Many of the hand-cut tiles are fused with sterling silver and 14 carat (58%) gold, and some are as small as the head of a tack. If you look closely at these ornate murals, you will notice that each of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters appears with a little added color - one sister's face is clearly "red with anger," while the other sister is a little "green with envy," as they watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper.
The King's Gallery, the former residing gift shop, has moved to Main Street Cinema, on Main Street, U.S.A.
On June 7, 2006, it was announced by Disney that the suite would be completely decorated and upholstered as a 'royal bedchamber', which can sleep up to six people. It has become available as a prize during the Year of a Million Dreams celebration taking place at all eleven Disney theme parks, and an overnight stay in the apartment will be a prize randomly awarded to a guest at the four Walt Disney World theme parks and Downtown Disney.
Disney describes the apartment this way in their official press release:
Cinderella Castle Suite is four stories above the surrounding Magic Kingdom -- a salon, bedchamber and bathroom off of a private marble-floored foyer, all replete with rich details:
Fluffy feather comforters beneath the regal canopy draping of two queen beds ... A cut-stone bedchamber floor inspired by the mosaic art masterpiece that adorns the castle's breezeway entrance to Fantasyland ... A parlor sofa that invites kicking off the shoes and curling up to read a chapter beneath the richly detailed vaulted ceiling of the salon ... Familiar castle-gray stone walls, rich hardwood paneling and ornate stained-glass windows.
In the foyer of the suite, guests will discover a design of the fairytale pumpkin coach in the marble floor inlay. A memorable artifact from the story, the famous glass slipper, adorns a cove. And through the doorway, the bedchamber and salon are appointed with furnishings in the style of the era of "the Louies," as Silvestri refers to the French rulers of the period inspiring the castle and Cinderella story. Nooks showcase clocks, porcelain and accessories befitting the period. Doors are richly detailed; the walls are covered with wood panels and wall coverings. In the bathroom, hand-decorated copper basins sit atop the vanity, recalling a time when fresh water was carried to the bedchamber.
Despite all the careful attention to centuries-old details, the amenities of the Cinderella Castle Suite are definitely 21st century. There's a lavish garden tub plus a shower. There are also wheelchair accessible bathroom and bedroom facilities and elevator access to the suite. As for an ornately framed, 17th-century-style portrait of Cinderella above a regal fireplace in the bedchamber: it magically changes into a modern, 21st-century flat-screen HDTV.''
If you look around the elegant restaurant, with its stained glass windows and medieval décor, you will notice more than forty coats of arms on display. Each of these is an actual family seal, and represent some of the many people that played a major role in the design and construction of Walt Disney World, including Roger Broggie, Sr. (Imagineer and railroad aficionado who aided in the design of many attractions), Marc Davis (animator and theme park designer), Roy O. Disney (Walt's brother), John Hench (who designed the castle), Diane Disney Miller (Walt's daughter), Dick Nunis (former Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions), and Marty Sklar (Imagineering vice chairman and principal creative executive who worked alongside Walt Disney).
Cinderella's Royal Table is also the location of the "Once Upon a Time" character breakfast. This family-style breakfast features characters of Disney's Royal Family such as Cinderella, her Fairy Godmother, and their friends Belle, Snow White, Aurora, and several other Disney heroines.
For lunch and dinner, guests wait in the downstairs foyer and have their pictures taken with Cinderella. They are invited upstairs where they may select a three course meal. Once every hour, the lights all turn out and the room sparkles and Cinderella's Fairy Godmother comes out to sing "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" with help from two female mice attendants and to visit many of the tables. She puts on a little show about wishes coming true before saying goodbye. The mice visit the tables for pictures and several copies of the developed photograph with Cinderella are presented at no additional charge.