Thursday, 17 April 2008

Introducing le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant

In yesterday's blog I said I wanted to introduce you all to one of the secret corners in the Castle - well, I'm going to leave you hanging on for a little bit! I know, I'm such a tease. But I wanted to introduce you to the beautiful Disneyland Paris Castle first, so that you can get the setting. Also, the book I'm reading at the moment (Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real) contains some interesting information about the creation of this Castle. Yet another must read for all Disney fans!

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty's Castle, is the focal point for Parc Disneyland. Situated at the entrance to Fantasyland, like other Castles in other Magic Kingdoms, the Castle features a climbing green hill to the left of it, with a small area of water in front, similar to a half-a-moat.
When constructing the le Château, Imagineers found that they were faced with one massive challenge. With Europe being so full of Castles, how could they make this so special for the visiting public? They originally looked at several different images for the hub of Parc Disneyland, including a large art-noveau styled tower, similar to the styles and images from Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. Settling on the castle idea, the Imagineers found their inspiration from the abbey Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, Northern France (picture from Wikipedia). This building had a much more fantastical styling to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, from which the original Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland was stylised. You can definitely see the influence of this Castle to the one we have now in Paris. Another nice note, the square trees that surround the bottom of the Castle were inspired by Walt Disney's 1959 Sleeping Beauty film. Yet again, a salute to the detail and imagination of the Imagineers.

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is 148 feet tall, whilst the tallest of the towers measured 55 feet at construction (and weighed 15 tonnes!). Similar to the other Disney Castles, the Imagineers used forced perspective to embellish le Château's height and distance from Main Street USA. If you've read any of my other postings here at my blog, you'll know that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is possibly my favourite Disney Castle, architecturally. It is one of the most awe-inspiring sites in the whole of Disneyland Resort Paris, and you can tell how much time and care has been taken over the design and construction. It is a brilliant area to walk around, and just looking up at the fantastic Castle gives me goosebumps.
Join us for the next post, in which we will have a brief look at some of the changes to le Château during the holidays and at night.

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