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Cinderella Castle (MA'AM) is the castle at the center and the icon of 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.
The Magic Kingdom
Cinderella Castle (MA'AM) was completed in July 1971, after about 18 months of construction, and reaches to a height of 189 feet (57.6 meters) tall -- more than twice the size of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. An optical trick known as forced perspective makes the Castle appear even larger than it actually is. As it becomes taller, its proportions get smaller. For example, using this method, the top spire of the Castle is actually close to half of the size it "appears." Major elements of the Castle were scaled and angled to give the illusion of distance and height, a method frequently used in Disney theme parks around the world.
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 the Disney family and executives, but since Roy Disney died shortly after the park opened, it remained unfinished, and eventually 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.
In the Summer of 2015, massive construction began on the central hub of Main Street U.S.A, constructing "quiet spots" (mainly to expand viewing areas for parades) and adding in new turrets to Cinderella Castle, though the turrets appear to be separated from the castle itself, the turrets are actually replicas of the ones attached to the castle itself.
My Disney Experience Official Description
Inspired by the castle in Disney's Cinderella, this iconic fairy tale palace is the symbol of the Magic Kingdom park.
Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom has been temporarily re-decorated on a few occasions.
- To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1996, Imagineers transformed the front of Cinderella Castle into an 18-story "birthday cake." Complete with red and pink "icing," giant candy canes, and 26 glowing candles, it served as the centerpiece for the 15-month long celebration. Designed by Walt Disney Entertainment Florida and later constructed by the Imagineers, this was no small undertaking. It took more than 400 gallons (1514 l) of pink paint to cover the castle, which was decorated with multicolored "sprinkles," 26 candles, ranging in height from 20-40 feet (6.1-12.2 m) tall, 16 two-foot (61 cm) long candy stars, 16 five-foot (1.5 m) candy bears, 12 five-foot (1.5 m) gumdrops, four six-foot (1.8 m) Life Savers, 30 three-foot (91 cm) lollipops, and 50 two-foot (61 cm) gumballs. Additionally, more than 1000 feet (305 m) of pink and blue inflatable "icing" was needed to finish it off. On January 31, 1998, it was transformed back to its original state.
- On Nov. 16, 2004, the castle was modified to appear as though it was strewn with toilet paper, and Stitch is King was posted on a turret as faux graffiti to mark the grand opening of Stitch's Great Escape! that day. The material was removed after the park closed that evening.
- The castle's most recent redecoration commemorated the Happiest Celebration on Earth in honor of Disneyland's 50th anniversary and was formally unveiled on May 5, 2005. The exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney animated characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire. Others included Kaa and King Louie from The Jungle Book, Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa from The Lion King, Sebastian and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, the Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and Victor, Hugo, and Laverne from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just above the front archway sat an enormous "stained-glass" mirror modeled after the Magic mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It changed images every 40 seconds to feature each Disney castle and the date its park opened: Disneyland, 1955; the Magic Kingdom, 1971; Tokyo Disneyland, 1983; Disneyland Resort Paris, 1992; and Hong Kong Disneyland, 2005. The decorations were removed in late September 2006.
At NightWhen the sun sets, the castle is illuminated in 16.7 million colors, thanks to SGM Palco LED lighting fixtures placed on different levels and surrounding it. It 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 providing entertainment for guests of Disney resort hotels bordering the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Beginning November 2007, the "Castle Dream Lights", with over 200,000 LED Christmas lights, covers the castle and is lit nightly during a new stage show in front of it. It looks like ice and is very popular among guests during the holiday seasons.
As of September 10, 2007, the castle is home to the "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique," first introduced at Downtown Disney. Inside, guests can receive a one-of-a-kind "princess transformation," that features make-up, one of three hairstyles, a manicure, a sash, and/or a gown, crown, wand and shoes.
The King's Gallery, the former gift shop in this space, has moved to the Main Street Cinema on Main Street, U.S.A.
Cinderella Castle Suite
Inside the upper levels of Cinderella Castle, there is a suite that was intended to be an apartment for Walt Disney and his family when they were in Florida. After Walt died in 1966, the apartment was left unfinished. This space is not large, and can be compared to the size of a master bedroom and bathroom in an average house. The location of the suite can be identified from the outside by locating the stained glass windows with pictures in the center on the north and west sides of the castle, about 2/3 of the way up. The glass used contains many small, multi-faceted pieces, which slightly obscures the view of the park from inside the suite. The suite adjoins an exterior balcony on the east side. The walls around this balcony are about 5 feet (1.5 m) high. This balcony affords views to the north, east, and south. The balcony is only accessible through an emergency exit and is not a guest area. This balcony is how 'Tinker Bell' makes her ascent to the tower at the top of the Castle.
On June 7, 1996, 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. Also in the den there is a mirror, but can be turned on to reveal another flat-screen.
Cinderella's Royal Table
Cinderella's Royal Table, formerly known as King Stefan's Banquet Hall, is a restaurant inside the castle. Located on the second floor, guests can take the circular stairway or the elevator to this royal dining room, where the younger guests are "ladies" and "gents". Walt Disney Imagineers had originally wanted to give the restaurant a regal name, and since there are no well-known characters from "Cinderella" that met their criteria, they instead took a little dramatic license and chose the name of Sleeping Beauty's father, King Stefan. The name was changed on April 28, 1997, in order not to confuse tourists. 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.
The castle is an important location in the Kingdom Keepers saga. In the books, there is a secret apartment intended for Roy Disney, with a small kitchen, living room and bedroom, with only one window overlooking Main Street U.S.A. This is often the rendezvous for the Keepers when they have to split up. It is protected by a maze called Escher's Keep, in memory of M.C. Escher. The maze is what was once meant for an Alice in Wonderland attraction, but never opened because it could be dangerous. The maze consists on several visual tricks and clever tests that if one missteps, the person ends in a slide to the castle's moat. The apartment was also used once as a prison for Maleficent, where the apartment's warm temperature did not let Maleficent use her powers, which she needs to be cold to use. Still, the Overtakers were able to break her out using a weather balloon to attract lightning to the window, melting the bars and letting Maleficent escape. Through the emergency exit of the apartment (located in the closet), there's a staircase that leads to the castle's tallest tower through which Tinker Bell usually makes her appearances. There are also various secret passages to the castle, including one that leads to a secret door behind the thrones at Cinderella's royal Table.
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 have a tan/dirty-pink color.
In 2011, a new walkthrough attraction opened in the castle called Cinderella's Fairytale Hall, which re-tells the story of the classic film.
- As you approach Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, you may notice the three-circled design of the stone fence running toward the entry of the castle. At the right time of the day, it casts Mickey's silhouette.
- In the Cinderella mosaics inside the castle, Anastasia and Drizella are shown with their faces red and green respectively. This shows they are "red with rage" and "green with envy".
- Behind the castle, there's a Cinderella statue in a fountain. When you kneel to drink from a nearby water fountain, a crown painted in a wall behind will make it look like it's crowning Cinderella.
- At 189 feet high, Cinderella Castle can be seen from two miles away and it is the tallest building in the Magic Kingdom.
- Cinderella's Castle was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria and many French designs such as the Palace of Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the chateaus of Chambord, Chaumont, and Chenonceau.
- On April 1, 2015, Disney released a statement claiming they were changing the theme from Cinderella to Elsa. This turned out to be an April Fool's prank.