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Features and Secrets of Sleeping Beauty's Castle
There's one thing you may not have known you could do at Disneyland: You can go inside Sleeping Beauty's Castle. The iconic castle isn't just a good backdrop for a selfie or a front for the fireworks; it's also a walk-through attraction. I don't just mean walking over the drawbridge and through the arch into Fantasyland. There's actually a hidden attraction inside.
Few people know that you can walk through the castle's winding passageways to see 3-D models that tell the Sleeping Beauty story. As you travel through the castle, you'll encounter pages from the story, beautifully illustrated. Each one is accompanied by a scene that illustrates it.
Some of the effects are quite creepy, created using extreme forced perspective, Pepper’s Ghost Illusion, and black light projection. When you think about it, the Sleeping Beauty story is about a jealous, demonic witch who is trying to kill a teenage girl. Setting aside the happy ending, it's a tale that's... meant to be more scary than sappy.
The final scene includes Maleficent's transformation into a fire-breathing dragon.
History of the Castle
The centerpiece of Disneyland has been there since the park opened, its design based Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany's Bavaria. In the beginning, it was very pale blue and light gray, but over the years, the palette has gradually evolved to pink and blue. The spires on top are covered with 22-karat gold leaf to give off just the right shine. For landmark anniversaries and the holidays, the castle always gets new decorations.
On Disneyland's opening day, knights on horseback appeared in front of the castle. They blew their horns. The drawbridge lowered, and a sea of children ran through the gateway to Fantasyland for the first time. You can see what opening day looked like in this article from ABC television.
There was a walk-through in the castle in the early days, and another in 1977, but in 2001, it closed. And it stayed that way for seven years. For the fiftieth anniversary, Disney redid the attraction, this time using the same style as artist Eyvind Earle used for the movie.
It's not the biggest Disney castle. In fact, it ties with the castle in Hong Kong for the smallest at 77 feet. It does have the distinction of being the first, its size tempered by Walt Disney's desire not to overwhelm his guests. The working drawbridge has been up only twice, before Disneyland's opening in 1955 and for the Fantasyland re-dedication in 1983.
More Castle Facts
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- You enter the attraction on the Fantasyland side of the castle. If you're facing the castle with Fantasyland behind you, it's on the right.
- If you are claustrophobic, you may not have fun at all. The passageways are narrow and dark.
- Children who are afraid of the dark or easily scared may not like this attraction, especially when the evil Maleficent turns into a dragon.
- You'll find Maleficent's henchmen in the Corridor of Goons.If you put your hands in the windows, you can see some extra special effects.
- Take your time to enjoy all the details and special effects.
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The Sleeping Beauty story is told using books, animated scenes like this one, in which the fire flickers and glows.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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Accessibility of the Castle
This attraction has lots of stairs and no elevator. If you’re unable to—or prefer not to—take the stairs, or if you are claustrophobic, you can watch a high-definition video of it on the ground floor. Contact a Cast Member to get access.
More Walk-Through Attractions at Disneyland
If you'd rather walk than ride, you'll find a lot of things to do in Disneyland. In fact, you can explore ten walk -through attractions and see parts of Disneyland that many other visitors miss.