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The Magic Years
Disney through the eyes of teens
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Adrienne Krock, editor
Sleeping Beauty Castle
At the end of Main Street, U.S.A. lies a castle. Though not the home of a king or queen, it is the castle that everyone wants their picture taken in front of. Everybody who has ever been to Disneyland has most likely walked across its drawbridge. It is Sleeping Beauty Castle. This famous Castle, resting at the center of Disneyland, was created with the combined features of many Middle Age castles throughout Europe, although its architecture was mainly inspired by the German Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle in the rocky Alps.

A very famous photograph of Walt Disney taking an early morning walk through the castle - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney
A very famous photograph of Walt Disney taking an early morning walk through the castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle is the entry to Fantasyland from Main Street. As you pass over the moat, you may not notice that you are walking on a drawbridge as many people are too busy to even realize. But you are not only crossing a drawbridge that has been crossed by people young and old, rich and poor, famous and unknown, but you are walking on a drawbridge that really works! This is very interesting to me. I really hadn't thought that it was a real drawbridge but it turns out that it is. It has only been lowered twice, though. Once on July 17, 1955, Disneyland's Opening Day and once in 1983 to unveil Fantasyland after it had been renovated.

There are many interesting things about the Castle that go unmentioned by those who know them. Did you know that the crest above the drawbridge is the Disney family crest?

Now, in the courtyard right behind the Castle, there is a brass spike that has been driven into the ground. This spike marks Disneyland's exact geographic center before Mickey's Toontown was added. The spike is unmarked. There are no signs or plaques to identify it. I don't know about you, but I think this is really cool. I mean, I just can't seem to get over it. Everytime I walk through the Castle I have to go and find the spike. So the next time you are at Disneyland, go stand on the spike and think of me. :-)

The entry to the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk through
The entry to the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk through

There is also an attraction in Sleeping Beauty Castle that many people do not know about. Its entrance is located at the back of the castle, only labeled by a simple sign over the door reading "Sleeping Beauty Castle". This attraction is the story of Sleeping Beauty told in a series of dioramas. As you climb the narrow stairs inside the castle, you can read parts of Sleeping Beauty, accompanied by dioramas depicting what you read. This is actually a very nice attraction. It offers a break from the rushing crowds, and is enjoyable for people of any age. I think that little kids especially will like this. It tells the story of Sleeping Beauty in a quick yet descriptive manner, and the dioramas are very nicely done and quite exciting to little eyes who have never seen them.

Inside the castle - dioramas tell the story

Inside the castle - dioramas tell the story

Inside the castle - dioramas tell the story

This walk-through attraction has not always been in Disneyland, but was added in 1957 when Walt Disney's most extravagant animated motion picture ever, Sleeping Beauty, was released. Walt Disney assigned Ken Anderson (who worked on Sleeping Beauty) to create an attraction in the cramped space inside the Castle. One day, Walt, Ken, and a man named Emile Kuir (he designed the sets for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,) walked through the Castle to check out the space. Emile wore a white suit that day. The Castle was packed full of cats and within a few minutes, Emile's white suit was dark because it was covered with fleas, and Walt and Ken were covered, too! Yuck!

(By the way, MousePlanet's Disneyland Information Guide section has a special "Hidden Treasures" photo tour on the castle walk through, you can go to it by clicking on THIS LINK.)

Also in the castle is the Princess Boutique, a shop containing everything a princess needs. Slippers, gowns, crowns, perfumes and much, much more. Across from the Boutique (still in the Castle) is the Heraldry Shoppe, where you can buy collectable family coats of arms and souvenir family crests.

The castle today
The castle today

The Castle isn't just a pretty landmark in Disneyland... it serves as a reminder that Disneyland is built on a foundation of dreams and imagination. When the Castle was being built, Walt Disney wanted its spires plated in 22-karat gold to make them sparkle. Roy Disney (Walt's brother) wasn't happy about this because it was going to cost a lot of money. So Walt sent him away on a trip and had it done while he was gone. However, Walt left one of the spires plain to show that as long as there was imagination in the world, Disneyland would never be finished.

Ciao!
~Jewel


The column about Sleeping Beauty Castle was suggested to me by a reader. (Thanks, Michelle). If you have any questions, comments or even suggestions, you can e-mail me at coolkids@mouseplanet.com


FastFact: Tarzan's Treehouse is approximately 70' tall, weighs 150 tons, and is anchored to the ground by roots 42 feet long!

Sleeping Beauty Castle

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jewel
Hi!
My name is Jewel.

I am almost 13 years old, and a typical junior high student. I live with my mom, dad, and little brother. My family and I have annual passes to Disneyland so we go quite often. I love school, and science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I am in band and hope to be involved in music for the rest of my life.

Right now, my career goal is to become a deejay. In my mind, that is the coolest job in the world! My hobbies include: listening to and playing music, reading, writing, messing around on the computer and hanging out at Disneyland. We have seven cats (four of them found us), a black Labrador, and I have a goldfish.

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