Saturday, January 30, 2021

Where is Cinderella's Castle (as Disney and Charles Perrault imagined it)?


Along with King Stefan's Castle, Cinderella's Castle is the quintessential Walt Disney castle. It forms the basis for a logo that everyone knows so well today.




The logo is primarily based on the castle glimpsed in Disney's classic 1950 animated flick "Cinderella". It's nothing like the castle seen in the 2015 remake starring Lily James; if you're on the hunt for that, you'd have to visit Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.



Credit: gailf548


Completed in 1720, this palatial complex, set in the civil parish of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England, used to be the family seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. Although the façade of the 2015 Cinderella Castle was built in Black Park Country Park in Buckinghamshire, the bridge seen in the film, among other existing structures, is located within the Blenheim estate itself. 



But Cinderella's Castle, or as how it was imagined in the 20th century by Walt Disney Imagineeringthe R&D arm of Disneyis real to the touch. It can be found on both ends of the earth: in Florida and Japan. 



Photo via Michael Gray Wantagh



You'll find the first one within Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Constructed over 18 months in 1970, the castle opened the following year to soar 189 feet (58 meters) tall, taller even than the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. 



A late-Gothic medieval castle it is supposed to be, but no brick was used in its construction. Instead, it relied on steel-braced frame construction and reinforced concrete walls, strong enough to handle most hurricanes that batter Florida. 



Fast-forward to 1983, and Cinderella's Castle rises above a Disney theme park once morein Asia no less. Tokyo Disneyland has for its centerpiece a 168-foot (51 meters) tall replica of the Orlando palace. 



Photo via Øyvind Holmstad


Unlike its (step)sister in Florida, this Cinderella Castle boasts the "Fairy Tale Hall", a walkthrough attraction, unique only to Tokyo Disneyland, that takes you past large murals, a diorama, the glass slipper, and a cavernous throne room. Some paintings here even reveal a hidden message when you use flash photography. 



Forced perspective techniques make the Disney Castles look taller than they really are, thanks to the genius of Walt Disney Imagineering. For inspiration, legendary Disney Imagineer Herbert Ryman and team looked to a storybook castle that moved "Cinderella" author Charles Perrault to write his fairy tales in the first place: Château d'Ussé in France's Indre-et-Loire département.



Photo via Zairon


The Imagineers also based Cinderella Castle on Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, an edifice Walt Disney personally toured himself. He was so inspired by this trip that he modeled the OG Disneyland Castle in California on Neuschwanstein, almost four years before the "Sleeping Beauty" movie patterned King Stefan's Castle after it. 



Photo via Santo Heston


In fact, the Cinderella Castle Suite, a themed hotel room on the fourth level of the Orlando structure, was planned to lodge Walt and his family whenever they were in town. It has since been converted into one of the most exclusive accommodations in America: either you win a contest or get invited to this coveted space.



The Cinderella Castle Suite. Photo via BestofWDW


The Imagineers also looked to the Château de Fontainebleau and no less than the Versailles to conceive Cinderella Castle. Perrault, after all, served as the Secretary of the Petite Académie under the Sun King himself, Louis XIV. So influential was Perrault on the monarch that the latter erected 39 fountains in the erstwhile labyrinth of Versailles at the former's advice. The labyrinth was later destroyed along with the fountains in 1778. 



Incidentally, the two Cinderella Castles have noteworthy water features. The Magic Kingdom version has a wishing well, and a special water fountain was put up at the Japanese castle in celebration of Tokyo Disneyland's 35th anniversary. 



Perhaps you can make that dreama wish that your heart makes, natchcome true by these waters.



Le bassin de Latone in the gardens of Versailles. Photo via G CHP

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