Secrets Behind Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World
Sitting right down the end of Main Street U.S.A., Cinderella Castle is, for me, an iconic symbol. No trip to Walt Disney World is complete without walking down the center of the street and seeing that castle. It means I’ve arrived at my favorite place!
Over the years, the “castle” has been decorated and changed for special occasions. Sometimes those changes are so dramatic it makes me wonder what they were thinking! Perfect example was the 25th Anniversary Castle – thank goodness it was only temporary! I’m always happy when my favorite castle goes back to normal.
Every Disney fan knows the biggest secret that isn’t a secret – that special place on the fourth level of the castle. A hidden suite of rooms beautifully decorated that you can’t reserve or purchase a stay in – that only a few lucky chosen few are able to see. But did you know these other facts and secrets about Cinderella Castle?
Cinderella Castle pays homage to the beloved story and characters from Disney’s 12th full-length animated feature film, “Cinderella,” which was released in theaters in 1950. Painted in traditional colors of grey, blue, and gold, the castle represents a romantic conception of a French palace-fortress. While the base of the castle resembles a medieval fortress typifying the Romanesque architecture and castles of the 11th through 13th centuries, the upper portion of the castle reflects the stately Gothic forms that were prominent in later centuries.
Cinderella Castle opened on October 1, 1971, is 189 feet tall and took approximately 18 months to build. The structure is made of concrete, steel, cement, plaster and fiberglass. There were no bricks used. The inner castle is structural steel covered with fiberglass and the foundation is concrete filled with foam for weight conservation.
There are three (3) elevators in the castle. One elevator goes up to Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant to accommodate guests in wheelchairs; another is used to move food from kitchen to kitchen; and, the third is used by cast and crew to reach the underground Utilidoors, as well as those who are lucky enough to stay in that special suite.
Cinderella’s Royal Table: A circular stairwell or a themed elevator transports guests to Cinderella’s Royal Table, the elegant restaurant located on the second level of the castle where guests can meet Cinderella and some of her princess friends. Hosts and Hostesses address younger guests as “princes” or “princesses,” while adult guests are addressed as “lords” or “ladies.”
Take a really good look at the clock on the front of the castle! It has “IIII” instead of “IV.” This wasn’t a mistake. The Imagineers were trying to be true to the times. The “IV” roman numeral wasn’t used until after the Colonial Period, and since Cinderella Castle is based on a time centuries before that, they couldn’t use a “IV.”
For inspiration, Walt Disney Imagineering researchers turned to the famous palaces of Charles Perrault’s France, still showplaces of Europe. Their design took the form of a romanticized composite of such courts as Fontainebleau, Versailles, and a dozen famed chateaux of the Loire Valley.
Charles Perrault was the French writer who is best known for his book of fairy tales collected more than 300 years ago, including the original story of “Cinderella” (“The Glass Slipper”).
There are more than 40 coats of arms on display inside Cinderella’s Royal Table, located on the second level of the castle. Each coat of arms refers to someone who has played a significant role in the heritage and history of the Walt Disney Company. A short list of noteworthy people whose family names are represented include: Roy Disney, Sr., Diane Disney Miller, John Hench, Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar and Card Walker.
The columns situated in the walkways that curve around either side of the forecourt to Cinderella Castle are decorated with mice and birds from the Disney animated feature film “Cinderella.” These characters were sculpted by Blaine Gibson, who also sculpted the “Partners” Statue on Main Street, U.S.A. and the Cinderella Wishing Well Statue located on the walkway between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
13 Gargoyles appear on the outside of Cinderella Castle and there are 18 towers with their corresponding spires on the castle.
Inside the main hall, the tale of “Cinderella” is displayed on five glittering mosaic murals, with each ornate panel in the shape of a Gothic arch 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. It took a team of six people more than two years to complete the murals.
After careful observation, guests can see that each of Cinderella’s stepsisters appears with her own special facial tint. One sister displays a red tint to show that she is “red with rage,” while the other sister displays a green tint to show that she is “green with envy,” as they both watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper to reveal a perfect fit.
Tinker Bell embarked upon her first flight from Cinderella Castle on July 4, 1985. Tinker Bell “flies” 750 feet, averaging 15 miles per hour and taking approximately 34 seconds for the trip.
A room directly beneath the castle controls almost everything in the park! What controls the animatronics at The Hall of Presidents? Or the light shows at night? Or the stage curtains at Country Bear Jamboree? A small room underneath the castle does. The system is both brilliant and complicated, as it controls hundreds of Animatronic characters throughout the park all at the same time.
If you like reading about secrets behind the most magical place on earth – you can find more secrets about other areas by reading:
- Some Really Cool and Interesting Secrets About Epcot
- Shhhh! It’s a Secret! Secrets of WDW’s Magic Kingdom
- Secrets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Secrets of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
- 10 Secrets of Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay