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Taking a close-up view of the parks
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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