Monday, January 24, 2022

The Evolution of Cinderella Castle

I’ve lost count of the number of photographs I’ve taken of the magnificent Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park. Inspired by Walt Disney’s 12th full-length animated feature, “Cinderella,” this 189-foot-tall structure is the crown jewel of Walt Disney World Resort. For the upcoming “World’s Most Magical Celebration,” the castle has received a royal makeover, with a new color scheme that includes bold, shimmering and regal enhancements. Today, I’d like to journey back to the beginning with a look at Cinderella Castle throughout the years from archives.

Guests who visited the Walt Disney World Preview Center prior to October 1, 1971 were treated to Herb Ryman’s stunning portrayal (also found on a postcard). When I was working at the Casting Center in the late 1990s, I was ecstatic to see the original castle model on display in the foyer.

The castle, which was originally painted in traditional colors of grey, blue, and gold, offers a romantic vision of a French palace-fortress. While the castle’s base resembles a medieval fortress typical of Romanesque architecture and castles from the 11th to the 13th century, the top half of the castle represents the magnificent Gothic forms popular in following decades.

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Cinderella Castle under construction at Magic Kingdom Park in 1971 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Cinderella Castle took about 18 months to build and was finished in July 1971. Unlike conventional European castles, this one is comprised of concrete, steel, cement, plaster, and fiberglass. There were no bricks utilized in the building.

Photo of Cinderella’s castle from Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland – 1974.

I snapped this image during my first visit in July 1983. There are 13 gargoyles on the outside of Cinderella Castle, and there are 18 towers with their corresponding spires on the castle.

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Disney Legend Blaine Gibson sculpted the columns with birds and mice found along the walkways curving around either side of the forecourt. He 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.

Cinderella Castle was magically turned into a birthday cake for Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary. I started my Disney career in the summer of 1997, so I have very fond memories of this celebration centerpiece.

It was estimated the cake weighed in at 40 million pounds. With 55,040 tablespoons of pink paint in three different shades, this cake was rich enough to satisfy any sweet tooth with its 50 gumballs, 30 lollipops, 4 Life Savers, 12 gumdrops, 16 red candy hearts and 16 green candy stars.

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In 2005, the castle was decorated for Disneyland Resort’s milestone anniversary, complete with gold accents and a gigantic stained glass magic mirror that rotated with images of Disney Parks castles around the world. In the late 2000s, the castle appeared to be “dipped in sugar” as thousands of LED lights were added to celebrate the holidays.

I can’t wait to add more photos of Cinderella Castle to my collection, especially after receiving an EARidescent makeover for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” beginning Oct. 1, 2021.

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