On my first trip to Disneyland I went with a list of the things I must do. These were items that were either original to the park or were things not found at Walt Disney World.
At the top of the list was Sleeping Beauty Castle walk through. This often overlooked attraction actually takes you into the castle and into the story of Princess Aurora.
But before we get there we need to start at the beginning, or in this case the front. Get ready for a lot of photos.
the icon that is sleeping beauty castle
Like Walt Disney World, Sleeping Beauty Castle is the focal point of Main Street. As you enter Disneyland park you may notice that Sleeping Beauty Castle is a bit smaller than Cinderella’s Castle (maybe Cindy has a bit of an inferiority complex).
Joking aside there is over 100 feet difference between the 77 feet tall Sleeping Beauty castle and Cinderella Castle’s 183 feet. This height difference is very notable (even with the Imagineer’s force perspective) and may make your typical Walt Disney World guest scoff at Disneyland’s castle.
But as you approach the castle you realize that this one has a bit more character than that other one. And speaking of character, you must and I mean must get a photo of the famous ‘friends’ statue in front of the castle featuring Walt Disney and his pal Mickey Mouse. Iconic is an understatement!
Back to the castle’s character. This is not a one dimensional facade. You will see the distinct pink and teals colors alongside the stonework and massive amounts of gold.
Looking beyond the color the details are amazing. From the mulitcolor ‘stone work’ to the patterns in the roofing to the ornate turrets. The Imagineers have left no stone un-turned when they designed this magnificent castle.
Sleeping Beauty Castle was actually part of the original park that opened up on July 17, 1955 but without the walk through attraction. It’s design was based on the real Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein.Did you know that the drawbridge has only been lowered twice—once at the opening of the park in 1955 and again in 1983 at the re-dedication of Fantasyland?
elements from the movie
Before you get too close to the castle you may want to walk around a bit and explore the grounds. You may be surprised a the hint of Sleeping Beauty you come across.
Some of my favorites are the statues. You can get a cute picture of Brown Owl perched beneath a flowering tree. You know this guy, he was the one that wore a cloak and danced with Aurora in that famous ‘Once Upon a Dream’ scene.
Other statues include a furry rabbit (who managed wearing boots in the movie) and one of Prince Philip and Pricess Aurora dancing while the fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, flitter about.
finding the walk through
When Disneyland opened in 1955 there was just an empty space inside the castle. No plans had been made to use it for an attraction.
Walt Disney was not satisfied with that and challenged the Imagineers to make something of that space. In April of 1957 the doors opened to the newest Disneyland attraction, Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The reason you can walk right past this attraction and not even know it is there because the entrance is behind the castle. Most people just walk through the castle and keep on walking straight into Fantasyland. Never bother to look at what was beside them.
So when you are just exiting the castle, stop and turn around. You will notices two doors, one on each side of the castle. One is the entrance and one is the exit.
the walk through itself
Once you head up the stairs you are transported in the world of Sleeping Beauty. As you wind your way through the halls you are met by open books sharing you Aurora’s story one page at a time.
Extensive black light is used throughout making the colors pop and the eeriness penetrate the halls.
Below are many of the pages and dioramas you can expect to see in your walk through.
One of the creepiest parts of the walk through is towards the end when Prince Philip is about to defeat Malificent.
There is a large shadow of her looming just around one of the turns.Beware that this corner becomes the place where someone from every group hides on the other side of the corner and then jumps out to scare their friends.
The walk through does not take long at all, maybe 10 minutes tops. It is not technologically advanced. It does not have fancy music.
But it is worth doing. It is one of those attractions that take you back in time to when Walt walked the park. There is just something special about it.