One of the original women on the Disneyland design team was Miss Harriet Burns, the creator of the Matterhorn model and sculpture. The history and design of Disney's first mountain, the Matterhorn and the world's first ever tubular steel roller coaster.
Walt Disney's vision for what he wanted Disneyland to be was absolutely so unique and so special for the time. It's a template that still holds up today not only in Disney Parks but theme parks all around the world. And like everything with Disneyland it's a little jigsaw puzzle, an incredibly small theme park located in the city of Anaheim which wasn't a city when Disneyland opened. It was farm country but a city accidentally sprouted up all around it. Because it is a jigsaw puzzle every piece of the puzzle somehow has to fit into the one next to it.
Everyone knows how small Sleeping Beauty Castle is by comparison to Cinderella castle in Orlando. The idea was to make Walt's Castle, the original Disney Castle, feel as tall as possible. Therefore they took all the ground around to create a mound for it to set on. After All Disneyland was built inside of one year! In 1954 this Orange Grove would transform into Disneyland now visited by millions of people all around the world and it was done on an incredible budget.
If you dig out all of the earth to create the moat around the castle and also pad it up on a pedestal, there's a lot more dirt left over. Two stories of dirt which became Holiday Hill, place some benches a little bit of flowers and slight design decoration and now you have a lookout point.
Walt Disney absolutely hated Holiday Hill! It was just a pile of dirt in his park and not exactly what he envisioned. He knew he could do better as always held himself to a higher standard.
Along the way trying to figure out what to do with this parcel of land, he came up with some pretty crazy ideas. If you notice the monorail pedestals in front of the Matterhorn are extremely short compared to the ones that are on the back of the Matterhorn to make the peak of the mountain feel even taller.
We'll discover Walt's design solution in part two.
It is a common myth that the Disney family coat of arms hangs above the archway to the castle. The Disney family coat of arms is composed of three fleur de lis whereas the coat of arms on the castle is three lions passant in pale. The origins and meaning of the coat of arms on Sleeping Beauty Castle is unknown at this time. It is known that the coat of arms was not originally on the castle but was placed there sometime between June 1965 and July 1965.
On July 17, 2008, Disney announced that the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough would reopen in the style of the original Earle dioramas, enhanced with new technology not available in 1957. The walkthrough reopened on November 27, 2008 at 5:00 PM, drawing long lines going as far back as the Hub. Unlike previous incarnations, visitors who are unable to climb stairs or navigate the passageways of the Castle can still experience the walkthrough "virtually" in a special room on the Castle's ground floor. This room is lavishly themed, and presents the closed-captioned CGI walkthrough recreation on a high-definition TV.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle is my favorite castle. Its the original and the backdrop of my childhood memories. This is one of my absolute favorite photos of Walt, as he walks through the castle into Fantasyland early one morning 1964.
Thank you uncle Walt!
Two months before she "awoke" to opening day visitors, this Disneyland landmark was getting a few final touches from construction workers. Walt Disney wanted this castle to be a friendly and welcoming presence in his park so it was built on a smaller scale than its European counterparts.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Surrounded by beautiful flowers and whimsical topiary, the Disneyland landmark beckons park visitors to explore the different realms of "The Happiest Place on Earth."
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Surrounded by beautiful flowers and whimsical topiary, the Disneyland landmark beckons park visitors to explore the different realms of the place “Where Dreams Come True.”
May 2019, the castle underwent a stunning refurbishment, enhanced with bold new colors and pixie dust, among other enhancements.
The following video is from the updated Sleeping Beauty story found inside the castle.
Here she is all aglow after sundown.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".