The Genius of Sleeping Beauty Castle

The Genius of Sleeping Beauty Castle

While out in Disneyland for the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, I had the opportunity to see the newly updated Sleeping Beauty Castle. This is the castle of my childhood. Not only did I grow up going to Disneyland, but every Sunday night I would watch The Wonderful World of Disney. Often I didn’t watch the show–especially when it was a True Life Adventure (we saw those plenty of times during school). But I would watch the opening montage. It’s there I would see Sleeping Beauty Castle with King Arthur’s Carousel inside the courtyard. You could also see it during the closing credits.

For years I would see this image and fancy visiting Disneyland–until the 1970s when they changed to Cinderella Castle, and like the castle, my dreams got much, much bigger.

Leading this refurbishment was Kim Irvine, whose last name she gets from being the daughter-in-law of Imagineering leader Richard Irvine. But her father was Disney animator Harvey Toombs and her mother was Imagineer Leota Toombs, known by many as the face of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion. It seems that such a relationship has possessed her with the spirits of fairies Flora and Merryweather, since her castle seems to be in combat between bright pinks and blues.

Some are startled by the striking color. I quite like it, and realize that it doesn’t take more than a year or two in the bright California sun before colors start to fade anyway. I would rather see it too strong up front than too faded later on. That said, one could make a comparison to the Pepto Bismal pink that attended Cinderella Castle during the 25th. It’s a strong color, but I think it’s a strong castle. I’m just thrilled that attention was paid to it, as it had worn long, with pieces still on it from Disneyland’s 50th anniversary nearly 14 years ago. Attention was overdue.

Some are not fancied by the diamond stars on the roof. I think it’s very 1950s, and it adds a whimsical touch to it. All of these colors and touches are much stronger at night with the lighting, but it looks beautiful walking down Main Street U.S.A. as well as with the evening fireworks.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at night. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A couple of years ago, Disneyland was listed as the most instagrammed location on the planet. Clearly the castle was at the top of what made it so (perhaps followed by the churro of the day). It’s amazing that Walt Disney had the vision to create such an iconic image when (a) it had no real attraction (the modest Sleeping Beauty walk through was added later), and (b) the film itself was still several years out from premiering. Talk about trusting an IP before the box office results come in.

Crowds gather in front of the Millennium Falcon just to take a picture. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

As beautiful as the remodel is, it may be replaced this year by the Millennium Falcon just a few hundred yards away. It premiered with the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. While there is a major ride that is part of the land, the ship itself in all of its detail serves no real purpose other than to be an iconic image–instagrammable for the ages.

Walt Disney was a visionary for these things, a definite genius. Speaking of genius, or more appropriately genus, I had the opportunity see this little tree I had never seen before planted in the bed near Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s a fitting tribute to Herb Ryman who was one of the first to design Sleeping Beauty Castle based on Neuschwanstein. The story of this tree is quite fascinating. I highly recommend you visit Jim Korkis’ story over at MousePlanet to read it. It’s a beautiful story.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I look forward to more years of visiting Sleeping Beauty Castle. It is not just the castle of my childhood. It is the castle of my dreams.

J. Jeff Kober

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