Coup de Cœur: Le Château de la belle au bois dormant

It is the icon of Disneyland Paris; it is the one thing you cannot escape, it is the one thing people dream about and it is the image that sells Disneyland Paris to the masses. Le Château de la belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty Caslte) is the unavoidable symbol of Disney magic across Europe. As the new Disney Pictures film Malificent has been recently released, let’s take a look at this masterpiece of Disney imagineering.

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant - DIsneyland Paris

And what better castle in the world? Disney castles in America, Hong Kong and Tokyo were inspired by Disney’s love affair with European castles that were found in countries such as France and Germany. But what for a European audience? Disney required something quite different; something more, well, fantasy. After all, a European audience was not going to be happy with a replica of something they can see if they drive two hours down the Autoroute. Inspiration was drawn from many places, both real and fictional including that of the Mont Saint Michel in Normandy.

Le Mont Saint Michel
Image: Hans Hillewaert under a Creative Commons license

The square trees seen to the side of the castle? Well, they appeared straight from the film Sleeping Beauty (1959). The film, based on the La Belle au Bois Dormant by Charles Perrault was one of Disney’s masterpiece works, the film however was a disappointment at the box office forcing Disney to take a break from creating films based on fairy tales. The songs from the film were heavily based on the Sleeping Beauty ballet composed by Russian musical mastermind Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – including the wonderful Once Upon A Dream song.

Few can argue that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is one of the most magnificent, beautiful castles in the Disney parks repertoire. Pictures do not do this beauty justice, one must visit and experience all that it has to offer. Let’s step inside and explore this landmark further.

Inside the Castle in Disneyland ParisA simple glance at the interior of the Disneyland Paris castle hides its complexity. This is a castle with multiple layers just ready to be explored. Perhaps the most exciting of which is the upstairs Sleeping Beauty walkthrough depicting scenes lifted straight from the film in a rather unique way.

Sleeping Beauty Book in Disneyland Paris

As we rise up the stairs, the story of Sleeping Beauty opens up to us in the magnificent form of stained glass windows, tapestries and statuettes; each of which telling a different part of the story.

Stain glass window, Disneyland Paris CastleEach one of these windows are beautiful, each one full of some bodies loving work – and it really shows. Let’s take a look at each window. (Click to expand)

As you move further around the castle gallery, the story of Sleeping Beauty becomes increasingly unveiled through both visual and literary mediums. Much like when we entered up the stair case and a book was displayed, as we move through, the pages turn and the story is told.

Sleeping Beauty Storybook, Disneyland Paris Castle

Tapestries have been woven giving the medieval realism to this fairytale. Perhaps what is most striking about this gallery is not just that the artistry is of an immense quality; it is also that we believe that we are in a real castle. The real is suspended and the fantasy comes alive.

Props and statues round off this beautiful tour of the classic fairytale, including Spinning Wheels, sleeping guards as well as our two heroes: Aurora and Prince Philip

And so that concludes the Castle Gallery section of this visit to the Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

Castle Gallery at Disneyland Paris

The gallery section leads out onto the castle gallery offering a stunning view of Fantasyland.

Fantasyland as seen from Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland Paris

It is from up here that we get our best view of the castle turrets, which as you can see are all equipped with some the best technology that help bring Disney Dreams! to life each day for the guests of Disneyland Paris. The show, Disney Dreams!, has already been awarded the Brass Ring by the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement parks and Attractions).

Tech installations on Disneyland Paris' castle.

Descending the castle stairs and into the main hallway, we find two stores. The first, La Boutique du Château, specialises in Christmas goods. The store is beautifully decorated as if it were a real room in the castle.

Christmas Shop inside Disneyland Paris' castle

The second store, La boutique de Merlin l’Enchanteur, is a world apart. It is a store one must explore and find all the beautiful details. Inside, one can find plentiful references to Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. Many of the products found in the store are handmade glass products which may be customised upon request. Combined, all this contributes to a fairy-tale setting for traditional artisan goods.

That concludes our visit to La Château de la belle au bois dormant, the centre piece of Disneyland Paris. The storytelling inside is one of Disneyland Paris’ finest and deserves to be appreciated by all that visit Disneyland Paris in its entirety.