The very first of Walt Disney's castles, and the only one he ever actually walked through remains the icon of Disneyland. Sleeping Beauty's Castle is sometimes scoffed at for its size, being much, much smaller than Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World. But in Walt's original park, it is quaint and homey and fit for it's esteemed title as the first.
But did you know it also has a unique attraction inside? Yes, you can actually go inside Sleeping Beauty's castle. Like most things in Disneyland, much history surrounds the attraction.
The entrance is tucked away by the tunnel to Frontierland. There are stairs involved, going up and going down and twisty and sometimes tight walkways. It doesn't take many folks inside to make the space feel crowded. Luckily, it's usually fairly empty. If you have mobility issues or are just hesitant about the trek, never fear, there is a high definition video of the attraction on the bottom floor.
Think about this. Disneyland opened in 1955 with Sleeping Beauty's Castle as its showpiece. The movie Sleeping Beauty must have been a big hit during that time, right? Nope! The movie didn't open until 1959, so visitors weren't even familiar with what Disney's take on the classic tale would be.
The walkthrough wasn't open until 1957. It is said that Walt didn't like wasted space, and the movie was still 2 years out, so how about a big commercial for the film in that space? Using a clever design of the open gilded storybook matched with dioramas of the story, guests could see a preview of the upcoming film.
Using the colorful graphic style designs of Disney artist Eyvind Earle, the story was brought richly to life.
Over the years the walkthrough has been closed and opened, upgraded in technology and changed. In 1977 the scenes were portrayed as miniatures, using doll like figures and styled after windows on Main Street.
After being closed in 2001, fans wondered if it would ever reopen.
But reopen it did, in 2008, with the original Eyvind Earle style intact and 2st century technology added in.
I was fortunate enough to attend a history of the attraction presented by Imagineers. What stories! And what amazing things they found each time the attraction was re-done. Knowing the history behind everything that is done in the parks makes the experience all the richer.
The next time you find yourself in Disneyland, take a break from the mountains and the thrills and take time to explore this little gem.