Rising majestically at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., the Sleeping Beauty Castle (in French, Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant) is undoubtedly the central attraction of Disneyland Paris. After all, it’s a fairytale castle, which invokes the imagery of Walt Disney and his Imagineers.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is not only a gateway to Fantasyland but also the stage for the extraordinary night show “Disney Illuminations”. In addition, it’s easily seen from any point of the main park: Disneyland Park!
So, do you want to know more about the 20 Secrets Of The Sleeping Beauty Castle At Disneyland Paris? Keep reading!
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- Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle
- 20 Secrets of the Sleeping Beauty Castle
- 1. Especial Exposure
- 2. Pink and Blue
- 3. Optical Illusion
- 4. Sixteen Towers
- 5. Snails
- 6. Unique Weather Vanes
- 7. Square Trees
- 8. Snow White
- 9. Sleeping Beauty Gallery
- 10. Centenary Stained Glass
- 11. Magic Stained Glass
- 12. Animated Tapestry
- 13. Sleeping Guards
- 14. Evil Raven
- 15. Make a Wish
- 16. Enchanted Forest
- 17. Archimedes?!
- 18. The Castle’s Shop
- 19. Merlin, the Wizard
- 20. The Dragon’s Lair
Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle
Although there are castles in every Disney resort, the Parisian one is undeniably unique. This is because, while the others were inspired by historic castles from Europe, recreating this at Disneyland Paris would have been redundant.
For this reason, they used a typical castle model from the fairy tales, completely different from all castles in real life. Thus, one emerged based on classic book illustrations, as well as on the animated classic “Sleeping Beauty” (1959).
20 Secrets of the Sleeping Beauty Castle
Since I started visiting Disneyland Paris more often, I discovered a lot of things about the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Some were unusual curiosities, other interesting facts, or even original details, just to exemplify. At the same time, my experience as a Cast Member and especially the months I worked at Fantasyland, were ideal for putting together this list of secrets:
1. Especial Exposure
Firstly, something that the Sleeping Beauty Castle has in common with the other Disney castles is that it faces south. In other words, anyone can take pictures at and/or with the castle, without having to worry about the backlight in the pictures! Therefore, the best natural lighting is always guaranteed, at any time of the day.
2. Pink and Blue
Next, there is something special about the bright colors of the facade: pink and blue. Did you know that they were meticulously chosen to contrast with the usual gray sky of the French capital? Only you must be asking yourself, “Why pink and blue?” As far as is known, this is an allusion to the discussion between the Three Fairies, because of the color of Aurora‘s dress!
3. Optical Illusion
Not only that, but Sleeping Beauty Castle also looks taller than it really is. This effect is achieved because of an architectural technique called forced perspective. Applying an optical illusion, using different scales that depend on the spectators’ point of view, it’s thus possible to manipulate their visual perception.
That is, the object in question will appear larger/smaller or closer/more distant. This strategy was adopted not only in all the castles of Disney parks but also in different locations and buildings, namely on Main Street, U.S.A.!
4. Sixteen Towers
As you will be able to conclude, Sleeping Beauty Castle and its surroundings are, in short, a great tribute to the homonymous film by Walt Disney. Just to illustrate, the castle has sixteen towers, which symbolize Princess Aurora‘s age when she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel! These towers are adorned with an impressive 24-carat gilt carving, besides their different sizes and shapes.
For example, the two golden towers of the Sleeping Beauty Castle have small dots, which might go unnoticed by most visitors. But after a closer look, you’ll see that these are snails, in a tribute to the French region of Burgundy!
6. Unique Weather Vanes
The weather vanes of each of the towers are equally unique. At first glance, you can certainly see flowers, plants, flags, and even two pennants with a “D” from Disney! However, notice the tower on the right: “Is it a hat?” It’s likely the crown of Quasimodo when he was crowned King of Fools in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Although this movie premiered four years after the opening of Disneyland Paris, the decorative element may have been added later!
7. Square Trees
Likewise, have you ever noticed the trees surrounding the Sleeping Beauty Castle? In their surprisingly irregular shape? They are pruned into a cube shape to recreate the forest scene in the movie Sleeping Beauty!
8. Snow White
On the right side of the Castle, there is a well that pays homage to the first Disney Princess: Snow White. Although it does not serve as a wishing well – unlike many fountains in the park – it represents the well in the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937).
9. Sleeping Beauty Gallery
Inside the Sleeping Beauty Castle, you can visit an attraction on the top floor called Sleeping Beauty Gallery (in French, La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant). Among illustrated books, exquisite tapestries, and colorful stained glass, the gallery reproduces the fairy tale in an immersive, original and creative way!
10. Centenary Stained Glass
The stained glass windows of the Sleeping Beauty Gallery were designed by Peter Chapman, an expert who recreated medieval techniques used since the 12th century! In fact, this master craftsman had already supervised the restoration of the stained glass windows of the famous Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.
11. Magic Stained Glass
A stained glass window from the Sleeping Beauty Castle has a magic detail: a double image, which alternates its appearance thanks to light effects! In the first pattern, a rose appears as the symbol of Beauty, the gift offered by Fairy Flora to Princess Aurora, at the beginning of the movie. Alternatively, two doves appear representing Music, the gift from Fairy Fauna.
12. Animated Tapestry
At the same time, right beneath the magic stained glass, there’s an animated tapestry of Sleeping Beauty herself. If you wait a few seconds in front of this tapestry, you can catch twinkles that occasionally appear on the scene.
13. Sleeping Guards
On the other side of the Sleeping Beauty Gallery, you’ll find two sleeping guards due to Maleficent‘s curse. However, if you listen carefully, one of them snores and everything! In addition, if you shoot with flash, notice how one of them has pink armor, while the other has a blue one. This is for sure another discreet tribute to the fairies’ argument in the movie!
14. Evil Raven
Right next to the sleeping guards, there’s a raven carved in stone and perched on the top of a huge pedestal. Legend has it that the raven is actually Diablo, Maleficent‘s pet! And if you think that his figure is a mere decoration in the gallery, also try to photograph him with flash and notice what happens!
15. Make a Wish
Despite all the evil plans from Maleficent, Aurora awakens with Philip‘s true love kiss and the two live happily ever after. This bronze statue, which marks the end of the animated film, as well as the attraction, has become a “wishing well” for visitors. So, take the opportunity and make a wish too!
16. Enchanted Forest
Before you go visit the rest of the Castle, take a moment to admire the stone columns that support the Sleeping Beauty Gallery. The pillars are perfectly camouflaged in trees, giving the feeling of being in an enchanted forest, just like Princess Aurora was!
On the balcony of the Sleeping Beauty Gallery, everyone certainly enjoys the view over Fantasyland. However, few people notice that the walls are decorated with owls. Now, even though there’s an owl that dances with Aurora in the forest scene, I have another theory. In my opinion, these are Archimedes (Merlin‘s owl), who watches over King Arthur‘s legendary sword: the Excalibur!
18. The Castle’s Shop
On the ground floor of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s a shop known as La Boutique du Château. In short, this shop recreates Christmas all year round, with themed decorations, accessories, and toys. Still, The Castle’s Shop is another homage to the movie Sleeping Beauty, especially the forest scene. For example, did you know that the animals that adorn the fireplace seem to look people in the eye, thanks to a light effect used?
19. Merlin, the Wizard
Opposite the Christmas shop, there’s a second shop called Merlin l’Enchanteur. Here, everything looks like it will collapse. In fact, one of the arches is supported by nothing less than a tree! Other than that, everything in this shop reproduces the unorganized side of Merlin, where no showcase is the same. Notice how the decorative elements evoke the wizard’s inventions, as well as the ingredients in his potions!
20. The Dragon’s Lair
On the underground floor of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s an attraction called La Tanière du Dragon. This can be accessed either from the Merlin l’Enchanteur shop or from the left side of the castle. The Dragon’s Lair is nothing more, nothing less than a dark and disturbing dungeon.
But it also hides the largest Audio-Animatronic from Disneyland Paris, with over 25 meters and 2.5 tonnes! Finally, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is the only Disney castle with its own dragon, making this attraction a unique and unmissable experience!
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