Photo:  Angela Tiffin, History Buff TMOM

Photo credit: Angela Tiffin / History Buff TravelingMom

The image of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World in Orlando is an American icon.  For some of us, the magic started years ago on Sunday nights with The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. The image of the castle to the tune of “When you wish upon a star…” was a much anticipated weekly event.DisclosureTMOM

To see the castle for the first time is a thrill at any age (I was an adult before I took my first trip to Disney World). At 189 ft, it still presides over its subjects in the Magic Kingdom like true royalty and after many years remains the tallest structure in the park. The castle’s magnitude is no accident, the builders used forced perspective by scaling down each level to create the illusion of even greater height.

Photo:  Sarah. K. Picard

Photo credit: Sarah. K. Pittard / Solo TravelingMom

The design of the castle at Disney World partially resembles the one animated in Disney’s 1950 film. Some say that its designers drew inspiration from the palaces at Versailles and Fountainebleau in France but its iconic turrets, spires and gargoyles are most certainly gothic in origin and more resemble castles from Eastern Europe. The Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian region of Germany is thought to have had a big influence on the design.  Really, the castle design has details from many different styles and time periods, which is what makes it so magical.

Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, LC-DIG ppmsca-00179

Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, LC-DIG ppmsca-00179

As guests pass through the castle, they see murals depicting the story of Cinderella.  The murals, designed by Dorothea Redmond (who was also a production designer for some of my favorite films), are 15 ft tall by 10 ft wide and it is reported that more than 300,000 pieces of colored Italian glass were used, including some tiles that had sterling silver and 14K gold in them.

The Cinderella story is a European folktale that has seen many adaptations and iterations. French writer Charles Perrault wrote one of the earliest and most popular versions in 1697, entitled Cendrillon.  This version also introduced another icon: the glass slipper. Disney will be releasing a live-action film  of Cinderella in 2015 that is sure to be hit. Although as mothers, we may not always be happy about some of the messages in Cinderella (being swept away by a prince) however, the story has many good lessons like kindness and forgiveness.

During a recent trip to Orlando, my family I were hosted at the Boardwalk Resort and, while relaxing by the pool, we watched the staff engaging the children in a game of trivia. When it came to facts about Cinderella’s castle, we were ruefully ignorant. One of the questions posed was: how many bricks were used to build the castle? A trick question because the answer is none. It was built with steel, plaster and fiberglass, with a concrete foundation.

I gathered some additional trivia about the castle in case you find yourself in just such a predicament.

Fun Facts About Cinderella’s Castle

  • Date of Construction: 1971
  • Height: 189ft
  • Towers and Spires: 18 total (15 blue and 3 gold)
  • Murals: 5, each 15 ft x 10 ft
  • Gargoyles: 13
  • Dungeon: the castle does not have one but there are underground storage areas
  • Moat water content: over 3 million gallons of water
  • Secret Suite:  When the castle was designed, a suite of rooms was planned for Disney’s family but he died and it was left empty for years until 2007 when it became the “Dream Suite” during a promotion where for 1 year, a family was chosen at random from the park to stay in the suite.

If you know any additional facts, please add them in the comments.