Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant, which literally means “The Castle of the Beautiful Girl Asleep in the Woods,” is better known as Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s at the heart of Disneyland Park and serves as the Resort’s icon.
Standing at 45 metres high, it’s 22 metres taller than the original Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It actually looks bigger than it really is because of the Imagineers’ use of forced perspective. Surrounded by a moat and square trees, the pale pink Castle has blue-grey turrets with gold accents.
The original Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland California was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle which is in Southern Germany. But that isn’t too far from Disneyland Paris, so Imagineers had to look a little further for their inspiration when designing the Paris Castle. They considered many different concepts, before finally settling on illustrations from Book of Hours Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Mont Saint Michel monastery in Normandy.
The square trees that surround the Castle were based on those seen in Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.
The Castle has seen several makeovers during it’s short history, not all of which have been very popular with guests. For Disneyland Park’s first anniversary in 1993 it was transformed into a giant birthday cake. The park’s 5th anniversary in 1997 saw the Castle made over with a Hunchback of Notre Dame “Festival of Fools” theme, complete with jester hats and faces, and a new name “Chateau des Fous.” The best-liked is probably the 15th anniversary makeover which was slightly more tasteful. In addition to 15 candles, Le Chateau was decorated with 26 golden character statues on its turrets and spires: Buzz Lightyear, Cheshire Cat, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Dumbo, Goofy, Huey, Dewey & Louie, Jiminy Cricket, Lumiere, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pinocchio & Figaro, Pluto, Seven Dwarfs, and Tinker Bell.
The Castle gets transformed into an ice palace each Christmas season, when it’s covered in thousands of tiny fairy lights, which are lit in a ceremony each night.
Guests can climb the stairs (or take the elevator) within the Castle to the upstairs gallery, La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Here, the story of Sleeping Beauty is recreated in wonderfully rich tapestries, illustrated books and colourful stained glass windows. A door leads out to a balcony offering fantastic views of Fantasyland below.
Unique to Le Chateau is La Tanière du Dragon, where a sleeping dragon lies in wait underneath the Castle. Accessed via ramps at the side of the base of the Castle, the dark dungeon is home to a 27 metre long Audio Animatronic dragon.
To the side of the Castle’s main thoroughfare are two shops, Merlin l’Enchanteur selling hand-made glass and crystal, and la Boutique du Château a year-round Christmas shop.
See lots more photos of the Castle and gallery here.
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