History of the Disney World Castle

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Think of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and likely one of the first images that comes to mind is that of the stunning Cinderella Castle.

You may have heard that the inspiration behind the castle is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and that is true. Just as fascinating as Neuschwanstein is the man who built it, the eccentric King Ludwig.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Photo via Wikimedia, public domain

But Neuschwanstein wasn’t the only building that Walt Disney took ideas from. He also drew inspiration from the French palace of Versailles and various other French chateaus, the Alcazar of Segovia and other Spanish castles, and even Moszna Castle in Poland. Herbert Ryman, who designed the Cinderella Castle, was even influenced by the appearance of the castle in the Disney film Cinderella.

Disney World castle

Cinderella castle took 18 months to build, and was completed in July 1971. It’s more than 100 feet taller than the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. The castle is 189 feet tall, but when you see it in person, you may be surprised that it’s not even taller than that. Its apparently greater height is an illusion, based on proportions of the castle being carefully scaled and angled to make it appear higher than it really is (these same “tricks” were used to make the Expedition Everest Mountain at Animal Kingdom appear larger).

Just as is the case in many instances with Neuschwanstein, many things are not as they seem with Cinderella Castle. It has a steel-based frame construction covered with plaster, but appears to be made of brick and marble. It was built to withstand 110 mph winds, in case a hurricane should blow through.

Disney Castle construction

The Cinderella Castle during construction

Inside the castle, mosaic murals depict the story of Cinderella. These took a team of six artists 22 months to complete. When I first visited, I was surprised that there really is not a lot to be seen in the interior of the castle. If you get your reservations in, months in advance, you can dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table on the second floor.

Disney World castle mosaic Cinderella

Cinderella Castle facts:

  • It has a drawbridge, but, unlike Disneyland’s Castle, the drawbridge cannot be raised.
  • It has 27 towers, numbered 1-29 (numbers 13 and 17 were eliminated prior to construction because they were not visible from anywhere in the park). The tallest tower is #20, and the front tower with the clock is #10.
  • The castle contains 3 elevators.

Disney World Castle towers

You may also enjoy:

Disney World’s Top 10 Scary Rides

Childhood Memories Friday: Disney World, July 1973


2 thoughts on “History of the Disney World Castle

  1. How interesting thank you for sharing, I have always loved the castle and it is the sign that you have really made it to Disney when you can say you saw the castle in real life, had a lot of fun at both Disney World and of course Disney land, thank you

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