Cinderella Castle is Magic Kingdom's icon, and for many people, it is the heart of Walt Disney World itself as well as that famed Disney Magic.
It is located at the end of Mainstreet USA, creating a spectacular view as you enter the park and round the corner of Town Square onto Mainstreet.
Cinderella Castle was inspired by a variety of real and fictional castles. The chief designer of the Castle, (Herb Ryman) also referenced the original design for the castle in the film Cinderella
and his own well-known creation — the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California.
Cinderella Castle was completed in July 1971, after about 18 months of construction, and reaches to a height of 188 feet (57.6 meters) tall. A foot taller, and it would have to have a flashing warning light on it for the safety of low flying planes.
Cinderella Castle is also surrounded by a moat, which contains approximately 3.37 million gallons of water.
There are a total of 27 towers on the castle, each numbered 1-29—tower numbers 13 and 17 were deleted before construction when it was realized that they could not really be seen from anywhere in the park, due mainly to the other Fantasyland buildings. The tower with the clock in front is 10, the tallest is 20. 23 is the other golden-roofed tower. During Wishes!, Tinkerbell starts her flight from a door (which is actually 3ft high, in line with the technique of forced perspective) at the very top of tower 20, just below the golden turret.
Originally, a suite was planned for the Disney family and executives, but since Walt Disney died nearly five years before the park opened, it remained unfinished, and eventually was turned into an office. There are three elevators inside the castle. One is for guest use and goes between the lobby of Cinderella's Royal Table, and the second floor where the restaurant is. The second is for restaurant staff use, and is located in tower 2 to the left of the drawbridge. It has landings in the Utilidors, the mezzanine level in a break room, and on the second floor in the kitchen. The third elevator is in tower 20, and services the Utilidors, the breezeway, the kitchen of Cinderella's Royal Table, and the Cinderella Castle Suite. The suite is about 30 feet below the level where the cable is attached to tower 20. Access to the cable is by ladder. From January 2007 to December 2009 the suite was used as a prize for the Disney Dreams Giveaway at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Year of a Million Dreams celebration.
Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom has been temporarily re-decorated on a few occasions.
- To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1996, Imagineers transformed the front of Cinderella Castle into an 18-story "birthday cake." Complete with red and pink "icing," giant candy canes and 26 glowing candles, the castle served as the centerpiece for the 15-month long celebration. Designed by Walt Disney Entertainment Florida and later constructed by the Imagineers, this was no small undertaking. It took more than 400 gallons of pink paint to cover the castle, which was decorated with multicolored "sprinkles," 26 candles, ranging in height from 20–40 feet tall, 16 two-foot long candy stars, 16 five-foot candy bears, 12 five-foot gumdrops, four six-foot stacks of Life Savers, 30 three-foot lollipops, and 50 two-foot gumballs. Additionally, more than 1000 feet of pink and blue inflatable "icing" was needed to finish it off. On January 31, 1998, the castle was transformed back to its original state, after thousands of complaints and many cancelled Fairytale Weddings, after brides did not want a pink "Monstrosity" in the background of their photos.
- On Nov. 16, 2004, the castle was modified to appear as though it was strewn with toilet paper, and "Stitch is King" was posted on a turret as faux graffiti to mark the grand opening of Stitch's Great Escape! that day. The material was removed after the park closed that evening.
The castle's most recent redecoration commemorated the Happiest Celebration on Earth in honor of Disneyland's 50th anniversary and was formally unveiled on May 5, 2005. The castle's exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney animated characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire.
When the sun sets, the castle is illuminated in 16.7 million colors, thanks to SGM Palco LED lighting fixtures placed on different Castle levels and surrounding the castle. The castle itself plays a role in the Magic Kingdom's fireworks show, Wishes!: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams.
in which it changes color in synchronization with the dramatic music of the display
At the park's closing, the nightly 'Kiss Goodnight' is performed, in which Roy. O. Disney's dedication speech for the Magic Kingdom is played all over the park alongside classic Disney music which changes with the vivid colors of the castle. When the park closes before 11pm, the show is performed again at 11pm providing entertainment for guests of Disney resort hotels bordering the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Beginning November 2007, for the first time, the "Castle Dream Lights", with over 200,000 LED Christmas lights covered Cinderella Castle and was lit nightly during a new stage show in front of the castle. The castle would look like ice and was very popular among guests during the Holiday Seasons.