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Karl Buiter

Walking through the Sleeping Beauty Castle

Text and photos by Karl Buiter, contributing editor

Note: We present this special tour, which is no longer available at Disneyland.

Dioramas and book pages tell the tale of Sleeping Beauty.


The Disneyland Band performs in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland. Photo by Karl Buiter.

Sleeping Beauty Castle is one of the most famous of theme park icons. Its very image immediately identifies Disneyland. It can be considered the most famous of theme park "wienies" (as Walt liked to call them) - drawing tens of thousands from the main entrance up to and through its drawbridge gate.

Yet many are unaware that inside the castle, above the gate, lies a wonderful recount of the Sleeping Beauty tale. A walkthrough provides a wonderful break from a busy, hot day at the park for families to enjoy a classic Walt Disney story together.

Opened April 29, 1957, and expanded in 1968, the walkthrough tells the story through dioramas and the pages of books.

Finding the Entrance


Outdoor vendors sell their wares near the entrance to the castle. Photo by Karl Buiter.


The entrance to the castle is next to the Tinker Bell Toy Shoppe. Photo by Karl Buiter.


The entrance beckons visitors. Photo by Karl Buiter.


An open book about the story of Sleeping Beauty welcomes visitors to the castle. Photo by Karl Buiter.

The entrance to the Sleeping Beauty walkthrough is not very obvious.

Entry into the diorama walkthrough is found though a doorway found in the courtyard near the Tinker bell Toy Shoppe. For those entering the castle courtyard from Main Street, go through the castle gate, then follow the courtyard wall left. When you exit the walkthrough, you will be on the other side of the courtyard near the Villains Shop.


The dark walkways contain the story of Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Karl Buiter.


The woodsman looks on as he leaves Sleeping Beauty in the forest. Photo by Karl Buiter.


In a scene re-created from the movie, Sleeping Beauty dances with the cape-wearing owl. Photo by Karl Buiter.

Once inside, visitors walk past windows showing scenes from the Sleeping Beauty tale. Each scene is animated by movement or lighting effects.

The walkthrough does go up several narrow stairways as it winds over the top of the castle gate and back down the other side. Accessibility concerns are addressed in the Theme Park Access Guide page (link).

Telling the Story


Illustrated books tell the story. Photo by Karl Buiter.

Near each set of castle window scenes are illustrated books that tell the story of Aurora - a young lady doomed by the prick of a spinning wheel. The story begins with the omen, the spinning wheel burning, past her tales with woodland creatures, Maleficent, and her doom.

The books are placed at a level for small children and their parents to read.

One note - and I would not have believed it had I not seen it - the darkened ambiance of the place along with eerie sound effects and scenes can scare young children in this otherwise benevolent attraction. I did see a young boy refuse to go further.


Many from far away visit the castle to see the newborn. Photo by Karl Buiter.


Maleficent confronts the parents. Photo by Karl Buiter.


Briar Rose grows up to be a beautiful lass. Photo by Karl Buiter.


Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather protect Briar Rose. Photo by Karl Buiter.


Maleficent discovers that Briar Rose is still alive. Photo by Karl Buiter.


Prince Chaming bends over to kiss Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Karl Buiter.

Next time you're in the park, make a special visit to this castle attraction. Its a good break from the noise and heat, and you'll enjoy one of the hidden treasures of the park.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the founding members of MousePlanet, Inc., Karl Buiter is now a contributing writer. He lives in Las Vegas, NV, and is a software developer with an interest in monorails.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Karl here.

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