How many times have you gone to a Disney Park and stared longingly at the Castle wanting to see what’s inside? At the Magic Kingdom in Florida, you can go inside Cinderella’s Castle to be “boutiqued” at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique, have a meal with mice at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and if you’re really lucky you could stay the night in the Dream Suite high atop Cinderella’s Castle. However, Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland Park in California has remained mysterious. You haven’t been able to peek inside the royal chambers for many years. Until now…
The interior of Sleeping Beauty Castle has been off limits to the public for many years, and it recently re-opened as a new walkthrough attraction at Disneyland Park. I literally stumbled upon the entrance after walking through the middle of the castle on my way to Fantasyland. The entrance is relatively discrete, and tucked into a nook set off to the left as you’re facing Fantasyland.
When you first enter the Castle, you see a large storybook with the pages open to the beginning of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. You then ascend the stone steps into the passageways and corridors of the Castle. Music from the Sleeping Beauty film surrounds you as you venture deeper into the Castle, transporting you into the story itself.
Along the walls are glassed scenes with vibrant, colorful displays telling Sleeping Beauty’s story. The large storybook precedes each scene, and the pages are open to describe the action in the displays. The window scenes are very impressive, and the artwork looks as if it has been taken right from the film. All the characters you remember from the film are depicted in the scenes including: Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, Maleficent, and the good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather.
I was totally taken by surprise by these display cases. I was expecting the type of mosaic murals you see lining the interior walls of Cinderella’s Castle in Florida. However, these scenes are nothing like that. They are a mix of static animation images as well as special effects to make the action in the scenes come to life. There was depth to the scenes and it felt as though you were looking through a window of the castle down into the chamber where Princess Aurora was sleeping or into the dungeons where the evil Maleficent plotted her treachery.
If you wanted, you could spend a lot of time in this Castle walkthrough reading all the books and watching the full animated sequences of the scenes. I think the cool, dark Castle catacombs would also be a welcome relief from the heat of the park on a summer day. A word of caution though, this Castle walkthrough attraction is not wheelchair accessible. There are a number of stairs that need to be climbed, and the passageways are narrow and tight. So you will need to have full mobility in order to experience this aspect of the Castle. Disney does offer an alternative experience for those guests unable to climb the stairs or navigate the passages. Those guests can experience the walkthrough “virtually” in a special room on the ground floor of the Castle. Now, I didn’t see this room or experience the attraction in this way, so I cannot comment on how Disney accommodates these guests.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough is definitely something that fans of the film will want to see. As the father of two young girls, I know this exhibit will appeal to them and many other girls who are “in” to princesses. As far as young boys go… well, I heard one little boy coming out of the Castle saying, “that was a big waste of time!” So there’s one first-hand opinion for you. If you’re in Disneyland, check it out, and form your own opinion. With that, I’ll end this blog like the film with Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora in her stunning pink dress living happily ever after.