Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through

The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through has been a Disneyland fixture since 1957, two years before the movie was actually released. Walt Disney asked Eyvind Earle and Ken Anderson to head up the project. Later the two would work on the movie as well. They made a series of dioramas using some special effects such as forced perspective, mirrors and multi-layering to make each scene spectacular. Apparently once the walk-though opened, there had to be some changes. After the movie came out, it was clear that the walk-through varied significantly, but it remained relatively the same until 1977 when the first rennovation took place.

The 1977 renovation took the Earle-Anderson dioramas out and replaced them with scenes incorporating dolls and miniature scenery. Sadly, the dolls and scenery weren't very representative the the movie either. Many of the scenes can be seen at

After Sept. 11, 2001, the castle was closed due to security issues. As the 50th Anniversary of Sleeping Beauty approached, imagineers thought that reopening the Castle Walk-through would be a wonderful and nostalgic way to commemorate it. When they got in to take a look at the castle, years of neglect and the additions of snow machines, fireworks machines, et cetera, had taken up a great deal of much needed space. As demolition got underway, a delightful surprised emerged -- many of the original Earle-Anderson dioramas were still in place!

This gave imagineers a great place to start. They were able to combine some of the wonderful old diorama ideas, with new special effects as well as to add new scenes so that the walk-though actually told the story of Sleeping Beauty as depicted in the movie.

Below are some of the scenes and the manuscripts that help move the story along as you walk through. Be warned - it is still a very tight corridor and if you get a lot of guests in at the same time it can become crowded around some of the dioramas that have animated effects.

The entrance is to the left as you cross the drawbridge and walk unde the castle, just before you get to the new Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique.

Some of the photos are a bit blurry as there are moving parts and a flash wouldn't have worked.

The last manuscript has her dress turning from blue to pink and back.

One addition to the Castle Walk-through is the wheel-chair access. If a guest is unable to climb the many stairs within Sleeping Beauty's Castle, a virtual tour can be seen in a small room off to the right as you pass under the castle from the drawbridge.

I really liked that they hearkened back to the original feel of the Walk-through, and yet were able to incorporate the scenes and characters from the movie to make it more authentic. Excellent job to Imagineer Tony Baxter and crew! You can read more about the rennovation here.

For those of you too far away to get to see this in person any time soon, you can take a virtual tour through this youtube video:


Laurie Zeller said...

Very cool, Tami! It's so great when they breathe new life into classic Disney attractions.

Anonymous said...

So happy you posted this, I was watching the movie with my youngest son and googled Sleeping Beautys castle to see if anyone had any pictures, I had no idea this attraction was still open. Can't wait to go back and see it. Thank you again

Frank said...

OMGosh...these pics made me sad...I remember going to Disneyland back in 1996, and took tons of pics of Sleeping Beauty Castle (Sleeping Beauty is my most FAVE of all the Disney movies)...only to have lost them in a huge rainstorm while living in Oregon. :( Thanks for the pleasant memories though...