Long before you walk through the gates at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you can see it. From high atop Mount Everest at neighboring Animal Kingdom park, it’s visible. From four hundred feet above Disney Springs, aboard the Aerophile helium balloon, it’s part of your vistas. And for a little girl whose dream is to one day be a Disney princess herself, standing at its base seems magical, surreal, life-changing—a moment she’ll never forget.
Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom remains Disney World Resort’s iconic symbol of family fun, magic and dreams being realized. But there’s a lot more to the castle than meets the eye. Here are eight really fascinating things about Cinderella Castle. See how many you didn’t know yet.
8. Bricks, beauty and views.
From the vantage point at Main Street U.S.A., Cinderella Castle looks as though it’s made of bricks. But this gorgeous castle, inspired by 12th and 13th century French castles, is actually made of steel beams, gypsum plaster, fiberglass and concrete. It was built with 10-inch-thick concrete walls everywhere on the castle that looks like bricks or stones. The Castle also has gorgeous spires, beautiful ornate turrets and even regal royal blue rooftops, which give it a magical feel each time you look up at it. Guests approaching the Magic Kingdom from the Transportation and Ticket Center via ferry or monorail can see Cinderella Castle long before they even get to the ticket turnstiles at the park. In fact, it can be seen from two miles away.
7. The Castle by the numbers is astounding.
Cinderella Castle stands 189 feet tall—nearly 19 stories high—from the concrete bottom of the moat to the top of the tallest spire, making it the tallest building at Walt Disney World. Because of its structure, it can withstand wind speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, which is the top wind speed in a Category 2 hurricane and the bottom wind speed in a Category 3 hurricane. Over 600 tons of steel were used to create the frame of the castle. Construction took 18 months and cost $4.7 million, which, if adjusted for inflation, would be closer to $13.5 million today. The castle boasts 27 towers, each numbered 1 through 29. Towers 13 and 17 were never built because they would not have been able to be seen from anywhere in the park. Tower 10 has the clock on it, and Towers 20 and 23 have real gold in their architecture. The moat that surrounds the Castle holds over 3 million gallons of water. There are 3 elevators in the castle; one leads to Cinderella’s Royal Table Restaurant, one is for Cast Members who work in the restaurant, and the third elevator leads to a hidden suite.
6. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Though the Castle “bricks” are a fascade, the Castle itself is not. Many parkgoers think that the Castle is empty inside, but this isn’t so. On the ground floor, on the back side of the Castle is the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique where little girls can be made into little princesses as “Fairy Godmothers-in-Training” style their hair, apply make-up and nail polish of their choosing and even help them select a princess costume to wear out of the boutique. Reservations are recommended for this experience. On the second floor of the Castle is Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant, where Guests can feast on pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetables and salads, all while Disney princesses visit each table, sign autographs and pose for photographs. And high up on the fourth floor is a regally and ornately decorated apartment, said to be located just below Cinderella’s actual living and dressing quarters.
5. It’s home of the hardest-to-score dining experience.
Inside Cinderella Castle, via a short elevator ride to the second floor, is Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant. It has been known as the most difficult to book dining experience in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance, and shortly after the 6-months window opens to book this exciting reservation, it is completely booked. It is one of the only restaurants at Disney for which you must pay at the time of your booking.
The décor inside includes medieval flags, stained glass windows and stone archways and will immerse you in a storybook world, fit for a princess. The menu includes such offerings as soups, Castle Salad, vegetable couscous, beef, shrimp and chicken and desserts named, “The Clock Strikes Twelve” and “Jaq and Gus.” Wine and champagne are also available, and one of the bottles of champagne listed on the menu at this restaurant will cost you over $320.
4. Walt was going to live here.
As plans were being drawn up for the Magic Kingdom, it was Walt’s plan to have an apartment built inside the castle on the fourth floor for himself and his family to stay in when they were in the park. He had an apartment built over the firehouse at Disneyland too. But sadly, Walt passed away before the Magic Kingdom was completed, so plans for the living quarters went by the wayside, and the space was used for office staff until they outgrew the area. For years, what was to be Walt’s apartment above the Magic Kingdom lay quiet. In 2007, however, Disney announced it had redone the space, and it was now living quarters fit for royalty. The area includes a bedroom, living room, foyer and bathroom. Its décor draws inspiration from 17th century French chateaux and features an antique limestone fireplace. Inside the bathroom is a spa tub, surrounded by stained glass windows. The apartment even has a ceiling that twinkles at night! You can’t reserve or rent the space, however. It’s used strictly for VIPs and for giveaways
3. The main corridor is breathtaking.
As you walk down Main Street U.S.A. toward the Castle, you’ll notice a walkway to the right and to the left of the Castle forecourt. These walkways are blocked before and during parades and shows that take place in the forecourt. But during “non-show” times, you can walk up these walkways and through the main corridor to the Castle. If you walk directly through the corridor, you will be in Fantasyland. But don’t rush through the corridor on your way to catch a FastPass+ time because you’ll miss some of the most amazing artwork in the whole park. Along the walls of the corridor are five handcrafted mosaic murals. They are beautiful displays of artwork that depict scenes from the story of Cinderella. Over 1 million pieces of glass in 500 different colors were used to create the mosaics. Some of the mosaics are even made of pieces of 14 karat gold and silver.
2. It’s the iconic place for photographs.
Cinderella Castle is the most photographed structure in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s no wonder. The Castle is Disney’s icon and symbolizes the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World as well as the Disney brand in many ways. It is featured at the beginning of every Disney movie you’ve watched, and its silhouette is sold on thousands of souvenirs throughout Walt Disney World. Hundreds of thousands of Guests stand on Main Street U.S.A. against a background of the Castle; even PhotoPass photographers offer their services along Main Street so you and your family can have an iconic photograph to take home, complete with the Castle in the background. Diehard Disney fans take so many pictures of the Castle that once they are home, they could make a scrapbook of nothing but Castle photos if they chose to do so.
1. You can get married at the Castle.
This wasn’t always available, but now, Disney World offers wedding planning that includes being married in the East Plaza Garden at Cinderella Castle, which is right in front of the iconic structure. You and your fiancé can have your wedding in the morning, just after the Magic Kingdom officially opens. As part of the nuptials, a bride can arrive to the ceremony in Cinderella’s Coach, and trumpeters are available to herald her arrival. The groom can also arrive in one of Disney’s Main Street vehicles, if desired. Of course, this is no spur-of-the-moment event. Reservations and planning must go through Disney’s weddings and honeymoons division. Call them at (321) WDW-4610 or visit their website at www.disneyweddings.com.
Who knew so much intrigue, beauty and opportunities for Disney experiences were hiding underneath the ascending spires and regal turrets? Cinderella Castle remains the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom, and even if you never go inside the Castle, the construction and history behind it, along with its unmatched beauty, make it a fascinating structure to behold. How long has it been since you’ve seen it in person, and how long is it until you get to walk up to the forecourt again? It’s exciting just to think about!