27 things you probably didn’t know about Disney castles around the world

The castle at Disneyland Paris looks like something out of a storybook. rifqa.j/Shutterstock
  • There are Disney castles in theme parks around the world, and each one has its own unique features and secrets.
  • Disneyland Paris is the only castle that has a dragon lurking underneath it.
  • It took almost 18 months to build Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.
  • The drawbridge on Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland has only been lowered twice.
  • Shanghai Disneyland’s Enchanted Storybook Castle is built in an amphitheater to accommodate more guests during shows and fireworks.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When people think of the Disney parks, they may picture the iconic castles that stand tall in each of them.

But you may not know that Disney castles around the globe each have their own unique features and attributes.

Here are some little-known facts about all of the different castles in Disney parks:

Disneyland unveiled Sleeping Beauty Castle before the animated movie was even released.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California. Megan duBois for Insider

Sleeping Beauty Castle has been Disneyland’s most iconic feature since the park opened in 1955.

However, Disney’s version of “Sleeping Beauty” was still in early production when Disneyland opened, so even though the castle is named after the princess, the movie wasn’t released until January 1959.

Inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, there are detailed mosaics that tell Disney’s version of “Cinderella.”

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. Disney

The huge mosaic murals took more than two years to complete.

In one of the murals, pay special attention to Cinderella’s stepsisters as they watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper. One has a red facial tint to convey that she is “red with rage,” and the other has a green facial tint to show she is “green with envy.”

All of the Disney castles face north-to-south, so there’s always good lighting for photos.

The sun doesn’t rise or set behind a Disney castle. Megan duBois for Insider

This helps to prevent potentially tricky-to-work-with backlighting for visitors who want to photograph the park icon from Main Street USA.

No wonder every photo of the Disney castles looks so good.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s castle is set in front of a natural mountain landscape.

Hong Kong Disneyland was built next to a mountain. AP Photo/Vincent Yu

The mountain is part of a nature reserve, and it makes for a beautiful background for photos of the castle.

There is a secret suite inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

You can stay inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. Photo courtesy of Disney

The Cinderella Castle Suite was intended to be an apartment for Walt Disney and his family when they visited the Orlando theme park. However, he died before the park was completed, so the space remained mostly unused for almost 40 years.

You cannot purchase a night in the luxurious suite. The only way to stay there is to win a contest or be gifted the opportunity by the Walt Disney Company.

Tokyo Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle is almost identical to the one at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The castle at Tokyo Disney Resort is modelled after the one at Walt Disney World. AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

There are minor differences between the castles, but one big thing is that Tokyo’s castle has a more detailed walk-through attraction that tells the story of “Cinderella,” and Walt Disney World’s only has the mosaics.

At Disneyland Paris, there’s a dragon lurking underneath the castle walls.

Disneyland Paris has a dragon under its castle. Michel Euler/AP

The dragon underneath Sleeping Beauty Castle is the largest Audio-Animatronics figure at Disneyland Paris, stretching nearly 80 feet long and weighing 5,500 pounds.

Shanghai Disneyland’s Enchanted Storybook Castle is the largest castle created in Disney history.

Shanghai Disneyland has the biggest castle of all the Disney parks. Aly Song/Reuters

The park opened in 2016 and revealed the largest Disney castle to date, which towers at over 190 feet.

The castle doesn’t just honour one princess, it has different features that celebrate all of them. Plus the castle has multiple levels for guests to explore.

Thousands of glass crystals and twinkle lights were placed on Sleeping Beauty Castle during Disneyland’s 60th anniversary.

The Disney castles get decorated for special anniversaries. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

The year-long event was called Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration, and the decorations made the castle shimmer and shine all day and night.

Each Disney castle is lovingly referred to as the park’s “weenie.”

The castles are the ‘weenies’ in many Disney parks. Megan duBois for Insider

The term was created by Walt Disney as a way to identify what guests would be most drawn to in the park, according to Disney Plus’ docuseries “The Imagineering Story.”

Each castle draws people into the park’s central hub so they can decide what to explore from there.

It took almost 18 months to build and complete Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World has a stage for shows. Megan duBois for Insider

Interestingly, there were no actual bricks used in the long building process. Instead, the castle is completely made up of fibreglass and other industrial materials.

Sleeping Beauty Castle features a walk-through attraction that tells the story of the princess it’s named after.

Guests can walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Megan duBois for Insider

The attraction debuted in 1957, two years after Disneyland opened, and it was codesigned by Eyvind Earle who was the animation art director for “Sleeping Beauty.”

The stained glass windows inside Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris were made by a master craftsman.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris. Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

The windows were created by a master craftsman, and they took months of work to produce.

According to Radio Times, Peter Chapman worked on the windows, and he also helped restore the windows in famous landmarks like Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey.

According to “The Imagineering Story,” these windows are part of the walk-through attraction that tells the story of “Sleeping Beauty.”

So far, Hong Kong Disneyland is the only park that’s completely rebuilt its castle.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s castle looks completely different now. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Originally, Hong Kong Disneyland’s castle was a replica of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

After a major overhaul that was announced in 2016, Hong Kong is now home to the Castle of Magical Dreams, which features 13 different Disney princesses and heroes.

It features a few iconic events, too, including adornments of Snow White’s apple, Cinderella’s coach, and Belle’s rose.

There are over 40 coats of arms in Cinderella’s Royal Table, the restaurant inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

You can dine inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. Courtesy of Disney

Each coat of arms represents people who have had significant roles in the Walt Disney Company, including Walt’s brother Roy Disney Sr.

Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland has an attraction underneath it.

Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is underneath the castle. Kyodo News/Getty Images

The grand finale of Voyage to the Crystal Grotto passes right underneath Enchanted Storybook Castle. The ride features fan-favourite characters like Aladdin, Mulan, and Belle.

Tokyo Disneyland actually has two full-sized castles that guests can walk through.

Cinderella Castle was built first followed by the Beast’s castle. Kyodo News/Getty Images

The first is the park’s icon, Cinderella Castle, and the other is the Beast’s Castle from “Beauty and the Beast.”

It was added as part of the recent expansion of Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland.

When Walt Disney World celebrated its 25th anniversary, Cinderella Castle was turned into a giant, pink birthday cake.

The whole castle was transformed for the birthday celebration. Chris O’meara/AP

According to the Chicago Tribune, the royal birthday makeover took 430 gallons of pink paint and 1,110 feet of heavy-duty inflatable icing to make the iconic castle look like a big birthday cake.

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle has a functioning drawbridge.

The drawbridge on Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland actually works. Megan duBois for Insider

The drawbridge has only been publicly lowered twice.

The first time was when Disneyland opened in 1955, and the second was when Fantasyland was rededicated in 1983.

There’s a golden peony on top of the highest spire of Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai Disneyland.

There are nighttime projection shows on the castle. AP Photo/Paul Traynor

The peony is not officially the national flower of China, but many individuals in China informally recognise it as such.

This is just one of the many nods to Chinese culture and heritage that the Disney Imagineers placed around the park.

The paint on Disneyland’s castle makes it look taller than it actually is.

The castle is actually pretty short. Megan duBois for Insider

Kim Irvine, art director at Walt Disney Imagineering explained on the Disney Parks Blog that her team used a technique called atmospheric perspective to make the castle appear taller than it actually is.

“We warmed the pink hues on the lower towers and gradually added blue to lighten the colours toward the top,” she said.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World isn’t dismantled during hurricanes, though it’s designed to withstand many of them.

The castle in Florida was built to withstand a few types of hurricanes. Megan duBois for Insider

Despite popular rumours and theories, Cinderella Castle is not dismantled during a hurricane.

But, with little preparation, Cinderella Castle is designed to stand tall during a Category 3 hurricane, according to Orlando Weekly.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World was modelled after various French castles.

The Imagineers borrowed designs from famous French castles. Handout/Getty Images

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World took inspiration from a variety of French castles and chateaus from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris incorporated designs from storybook castles as well as real ones.

Imagineers made the castle look like something out of a storybook. rifqa.j/Shutterstock

The Imagineers thought that it would be redundant to just model the castle after real ones the guests could go see around Europe.

Instead, Disneyland Paris’s castle took extra inspiration from storybook castle drawings and the animated film “Sleeping Beauty.”

That’s also why the landscaping around the castle grounds in Paris features square trees.

Shanghai Disneyland’s Enchanted Storybook Castle was built into an amphitheater.

The castle stage is surrounded by an amphitheater. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Imagineers did this so more guests can view shows on the castle stage without being cramped together in a small space.

The theatre is also a prime viewing spot for the nightly firework shows.

Each Disney castle features a special nod to Walt Disney.

Walt Disney liked the bright-blue turrets. Megan duBois for Insider

According to the Walt Disney Family Museum, when Walt Disney saw the original model for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle he liked the bright-blue colour of the turrets because it would blend with the sky and make the castle appear taller.

Varying shades of that same bright blue have been used on every Disney castle since as a nod to the founder.

There’s a full-service restaurant inside the castle at Shanghai Disneyland.

Shanghai Disneyland’s castle is home to a fancy eatery. Jeff Gritchen/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The Royal Banquet Hall is on the upper floors of the castle. As you make your way to the fine-dining restaurant, you’ll pass by stained glass windows and mosaic art.

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