50 Things You Never Knew About Disney World’s Cinderella Castle

It's iconic and one of the most magical photographic backdrops in America but do you really know everything about the famous Cinderella Castle at Disney World?

While it isn’t the tallest structure in Walt Disney World—Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios are both 10 feet taller—the famed and fabulous Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom is an undoubtedly more beloved part of the Disney skyline. And much like how EPCOT gives visitors a passport to travel the world, Cinderella’s Castle brings Europe to central Florida.

This Disney Castle with its ornate facade and blue turrets pulls real-life inspiration from a number of romantic French palaces and fortresses to give Cinderella her palatial residence at Disney World in Orlando. Disneyland, on the other hand, is home to Sleeping Beauty Castle, one of the many differences between Disneyland and Disney World.

Over 20 million people walk into Walk Disney World each year and most all of them have photos of the Cinderella Castle and selfies in front of this royal building. And yet despite it being Disney’s 50th anniversary, there are still countless Disney secrets and hidden Mickeys you’ve never found, and so much about the legendary Disney Castle that you probably don’t know. Here are 50 things you never knew about Disney World’s Cinderella’s Castle.

History of Cinderella Castle

1. The Disney Castle was completed in July 1971 after 18 months of construction.

2.  It is 100 feet taller than Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in California.

3.  It’s 189 feet tall when measured from the concrete bottom of the water moat.

4. At the time of its construction in 1971, any structure taller than 190 feet tall in Florida would have needed a red, flashing aircraft beacon on top of it to alert planes that flying low would be dangerous. So Imagineers built Cinderella’s Castle 189 feet high to avoid having a Rudolph-like blinking red light shining atop the Magic Kingdom’s most prominent feature.

5. The castle’s moat is filled with approximately 3.37 million gallons of water. The moat has a secret too, it was constructed to help prevent mosquitoes at Disney.

6. Cinderella Castle drawbridge goes over the moat, but unlike Sleeping Beauty’s Castle drawbridge, it cannot be raised.

The Cinderella Castle during an overcast day is seen in the...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

7. There are 27 turrets on the Cinderella Castle, numbered 1 to 29, including 18 towers.

8. Because they would not be able to be easily seen from anywhere in the park (obstructed by other Fantasyland buildings), turrets 13 and 17 were deleted before construction began.

9. The turret with the clock is number 10, turret 20 is the tallest, and number 23 is the other golden-roofed tower.

10. Magical construction makes the Cinderella Castle look like it’s made of marble, but it’s actually made of steel, concrete, plaster, and fiberglass.

11. Six hundred tons of steel braced frame construction make up the inner structure and is encircled by a ten-inch reinforced concrete wall. All of this is on a concrete drilled caisson foundation.

12. More construction magic: no bricks were used in the construction of the Disney World Castle.

13. With hurricanes common in Florida every fall, the castle was built strong enough to withstand 110 miles per hour winds!

14. There are three elevators in the castle. One elevator takes guests up to Cinderella’s Royal Table on the 2nd floor, another is a dumb waiter used to move food from kitchen to kitchen, and the last elevator (which goes up to the Cinderella Suite) is mostly used by Disney cast members.

15. It’s smaller than it looks. The first floor of Cinderella Castle is built to scale, but the second story is built smaller. The second story has windows and blocks which are 5/8th the size of the ones on the first floor and the top spire of the Castle is about half the size that it appears to be. This forced perspective makes guests see Disney Castle as taller than its 189 feet.

16. Inside the castle archway (viewable to all guests) are five mosaic murals telling the story of Cinderella, each measuring 15 feet by 10 feet. This gorgeous artistic series was designed by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and set by a team of six artists led by Hanns-Joachim Scharff.

17.  The murals took 22 months to complete and over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass in more than 500 colors were used in the mosaics.

18. The tiles were cut by hand and many are fused with sterling silver and 14k gold. Some of the mural tiles are as small as the head of a tack.

19. There are six Disney parks in the world but only two Cinderella Castles in the Disney portfolio. The other is at Tokyo Disneyland.

Facts about Cinderella Castle Suite

20. During the initial planning for the design of Disney World, the royal suite inside the Cinderella Castle was intended to be for the exclusive use of Walt Disney himself and his family, as well as for Disney executives on visits to Disney World.

21. Because Walt died in 1966 before Disney World and its Cinderella Castle opened, the suite remained unfinished.

22. The inside of the Disney Castle has been used as both a call center and as a dressing room.

23. In July 2005, it was announced that the Cinderella suite would be finished and transformed into an opulent 650-square foot royal bed chamber for up to six guests.

24. After it opened in 2006, a one-night stay in the Dream Suite in Disney World’s Cinderella Castle was a prize to be won in the Disney Dreams Giveaway during the Year of a Million Dreams celebration for three calendar years from January 2007 to December 2009.

US-TOURISM-CINDERELLA ROYAL SUITEROBERT SULLIVAN/Getty Images

25. While it would be the most in-demand Airbnb, the Cinderella Castle has never been able to be booked for a night’s stay.

26. Today, the only way to live this royal princess fantasy is to be gifted the experience as a VIP guest of the Walt Disney Company, winning a contest or a giveaway.

27. To access Cinderella’s royal suite, you take a ride in an elevator fashioned in the likeness of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.

28. Cinderella Castle Suite is four stories above the Magic Kingdom outside.

29. The Cinderella Castle Suite is beautifully decorated. There are two queen beds, each with fluffy feather comforters, mosaic floors, portraits, a glass slipper, and a magical grandfather clock.

30. The suite’s grandfather clock doesn’t actually work. It is forever 11:59 p.m. inside the suite, so unlike Cinderella’s magic, the guests’ magic never has to end—through the duration of the stay, at least.

How to experience Cinderella Castle

31. You can raise a glass and have a meal with Disney princesses inside the Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

32. Cinderella’s Royal Table is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but good luck getting a seat!. These are the most coveted dining reservations in the whole of Walt Disney World!

33. There are more than 40 coats of arms on display inside Cinderella’s Royal Table, paying homage to real Disney royalty. Each coat of arms refers to a person who played a significant role in the heritage and history of the Walt Disney Company.

34. You can get married in the East Plaza Garden of the Magic Kingdom, which is right in front of Cinderella’s castle. Prices for the ceremony start at $25,000.

35. On select nights, over 16 million colored lights illuminate Cinderella Castle as the sun sets.

Cinderella Castle At Walt Disney World Is Lit Purple And Gold for 2020 NBA Champion Los Angeles LakersHandout/Getty Images

36.  During the year-end holiday season, 200,000 LED lights adorn the castle.

37. Is there a roman numeral snafu on the Disney Castle? The number “4” on the castle’s clock is written as “IIII” instead of “IV” but this isn’t an error. Instead, it is historically accurate because “IV” wasn’t used until after the Colonial Period. “IIII” was even used in the Cinderella film and also appears at the American Adventure pavilion in EPCOT and on a clock within the Pirates of the Caribbean. “IIII” is true of the time and remains historically accurate.

38. The Bibbidi, Bobbidi Boutique transforms kids into princesses and knights. Makeover packages inside the Disney Castle include hairstyling, make-up, manicures, costumes, photos, and more to help you make indelible memories with your children. (The boutiques are currently closed due to COVID.)

39. In 1996, the Disney Castle was transformed into a giant pink birthday cake to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary. The icing remained for over two years (October 1, 1996, to January 31, 1998).

40. To celebrates the opening of the ride Stitch’s Great Escape in 2004, Cinderella Castle was covered in toilet paper and a big sign that read “Stitch is King!”

41.  In April 2020, Disney World shined blue lights on Cinderella Castle in honor of healthcare workers who were on the frontlines of the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.

42. Tinker Bell took her first flight out of the Cinderella Castle on July 4, 1985.

43. And she still flies around the castle almost every night as part of the Disney fireworks show. It’s not magic but zip lines that help Tinker Bell fly 15 miles per hour.

44. The Cinderella Castle gets kissed goodnight, every night. About 30 minutes after the park closes, the castle gets a goodnight kiss of special lighting, the playing of Roy Disney’s dedication speech and “When You Wish Upon a Star” as the castle goes dark.

45. While Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is recognized as the primary inspiration for the Disney Castle, chief designer Herbert Ryman also found inspiration for his iconic design in the castles of Versailles and Fontainbleau, the chateaux of Chambord and Chaumont, and the Tyn Church in Prague.

46. The inside is luxurious but the technology and lighting on the outside of the castle is fit for a princess too. Disney has a palate of 16.7 million colors to work with as it creates and projects images onto Cinderella’s Castle.

47. Walt and Mickey weren’t a part of the original design. The beloved hand-in-hand Partners Statue designed and sculpted by former Disney animator and Imagineer Blaine Gibson was not added to the Castle’s Courtyard until 1995.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue inside of the Magic...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

48. When Shanghai Disneyland opened in 2016, its 197 feet tall Enchanted Storybook Castle took the title of tallest Disney Castle in the world away from Disney World’s Cinderella Castle.

49. For the 50th Anniversary “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” at Disney World, which starts on October 1, 2021, Cinderella Castle will be decorated with gold ribbons, blue banners, and a 50th-anniversary sign.

50. Finally, a stunning new crest is now adorning Cinderella Castle. This was the final step in the EARidescent makeover honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, a celebration that starts on October 1 and will continue for 18 months.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.