Cinderella Castle and Wishing Well
I've written many posts about the various attractions in Disney theme parks based around the films I've been watching. Some have been prominent rides such as Snow White's Scary Adventure or Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Others have been obscure areas such as the Fantasia golfing attraction or ephemeral like Bambi's presence in the parks. Some have merely been meet and greets.
Cinderella, however, is a film whose impact on Disney theme parks is huge. It forms, after all, the centre-piece of Disney World itself - Cinderella's Castle; a massive structure visible for miles around the Magic Kingdom and the hub of the theme park. Cinderella's Castle is also the castle at the centre of Tokyo Disneyland. Although Cinderella's Castle is replaced by other princess's abodes in the other parks, this central castle icon is key to Disney's image.
Cinderella's Castle is an impressive and emotional sight for many visiting Disney World. It's iconic white and blue colouring stands out as guests walk down main street and dominates the Fantasyland area. Because the front of the castle hosts the staging area for many of the high profile shows and because of its importance to the nightly fireworks show, it is possible for some guests to not actually walk through the castle on their way to Fantasyland. If visitors do, they are greeted by a series of mosaics on the walls of the passageway through. These depict the story of Cinderella. Oddly, though, the style is reminiscent of Renaissance art and is much more like the style of Disney's Sleeping Beauty than it is Cinderella. They are beautiful though. The passageway also hosts the entrance to an exclusive area of Disney World, Cinderella's Castle Suite. This is a luxurious suite that guests can stay in, themed around Cinderella. The detailing is exquisite but it isn't somewhere that many guests get to visit, let alone stay in. A stay in the suite is by invitation only.
Near Cinderella Castle is Cinderella's Wishing Well. The Wishing Well reflects the theming seen in Cinderella's Castle Suite with a large C and the metalwork and carvings depicting the birds and mice familiar from the film. It is situated in a small, secluded patio area with a bench for resting your feet and soaking in a view of the castle towering above. It's a beautiful spot.
The Tokyo Disneyland version of Cinderella's Castle is a near replica of its Florida counterpart, right down to the mosaics. However, it also hosts the entrance to a walkthrough attraction - Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall. Prior to that, it hosted a similar attraction: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour - both of which I'll examine more in separate posts.
Through the years, Cinderella's Castle has been redressed for various events including as a giant birthday cake and covered in toilet paper, ostensibly at the hand of Stitch. But whatever it looks like, whether as the sun rises in the morning as guests enter the park or lit up by fireworks, with Disney characters projected across it's surface at the nightly shows, the Cinderella Castle will remain one of Disney World's most iconic attractions.
Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall
In 2011, a new attraction opened inside the Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland. Formerly the area had been host to the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour which featured elements from a number of different Disney films and focussed quite heavily on the villains. I'll look at that attraction, briefly, in another post. The current attraction, however, is 100% Cinderella.
Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall is a walkthrough attraction. Guests are welcomed into a lift by cast members dressed as page boys. The lift is simply decorated with pale colours. On stopping, guests emerge into a large antechamber, the walls of which, on one side, bear artwork depicting the prologue of Cinderella including familiar images such as Lady Tremaine, along with Anastasia and Drizella looking down on Cinderella and her father. On the other wall, we see Cinderella in her life of servitude to her stepfamily - one picture has a great depiction of my personal favourite character, Lucifer, after he has just put muddy pawprints all over Cinderella's freshly-washed floor; his expression is priceless. Each picture has a short passage telling the story (in both English and Japanese).
Leaving this chamber through a curtained doorway, guests advance down a short passage (passing under a simple chandelier), through another curtained doorway and into a larger, hexagonal room with a beautiful blue ceiling. A stained glass window lets natural light into the room and on some of the walls are small displays of scenes from Cinderella. What's odd about these, is that they bear no relation to the style or depiction of characters from the Disney film. Rather they seem like various artists interpretations of elements of the story, such as Cinderella sitting with Jaq and Gus (neither of whom look anything like their movie counterparts). One display is based more closely on the film and this one shows the mice and birds creating Cinderella's pink dress for the ball. This display is really rather sweet with a mechanism which allows bluebirds to fly around the dress with swirling ribbons whilst Jaq and Gus moving up and down on threads either side. It's a lovely 3D representation of a fun scene from the film.
A second hexagonal room continues to hold small displays in varying styles, including one rather sombre piece depicting the fairy godmother and a kneeling Cinderella and a sharp, angular piece showing Cinderella arriving at the ball. A third display, again matching the original's film artwork as with the dress scene, uses mirrors to show the fairy godmother transforming Cinderella, the pumpkin and mice into her beautiful dress and horse-drawn carriage.
A third hexagonal room continues the story in small displays, including one showing the Prince and Cinderella twirling around the dance floor (with the King and Duke watching from above) and a piece of metallic sculpture showing Cinderella trying on the glass slipper.
Visitors then move into yet another room, this one adorned with huge paintings of scenes not seen in the film such as Cinderella arriving at the palace after the slipper fit her foot and then being crowned by the King. There are also depictions of the closing wedding scene from the film including a wedding party painting with the Prince and Cinderella in the middle, flanked by the King and Duke on one side and the Fairy Godmother and mice on the other. This room leads into a larger, even more impressive chamber with a higher vaulted ceiling, impressive chandelier and curtained alcoves around the room. Against one wall stands a canopy and a throne for guests to sit in and have photos. There's also a small stool in front of which sits a glass slipper to try your luck on.
Most intriguing in this room are a couple of paintings which have hidden images in them which, apparently, only appear if you take a photograph of them - the hidden image will appear in your photograph.
After this room, guests exit back into the park.
Visiting Tokyo Disneyland is a bit of a pipe dream for my wife and I but if we're lucky one day I'll get to visit Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall. It looks beautiful and as Cinderella has become a Disney film for which I have a bit of a newfound appreciation, its an attraction I think I'll enjoy. I also like the fact it's walkthrough meaning that, within reason, you can take your time to absorb all the details unlike the rides such as Snow White's Scary Adventure or Pinocchio's Daring Journey where details whip past so quickly you don't have time to appreciate them.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Who doesn't love a carousel? The classic fairground ride which I'm sure everyone has ridden at some point in their life. Painted horses rise up and down as the carousel spins elegantly around. Street organ versions of familiar songs play as the carousel turns and turns.
Walt Disney World's version of the carousel is no different. Formerly known as Cinderella's Golden Carrousel, it is now named after her husband - Prince Charming Regal Carrousel.
What is kind of sweet is that the ride hasn't just been renamed - the Imagineers have invented a whole new backstory for the attraction:
“Following their fairy-tale romance and happily-ever-after wedding, Cinderella and Prince Charming took up residence in Cinderella’s Castle. With peace throughout the kingdom, Prince Charming had time to practice for jousting tournaments. In the countryside near the castle, he built a training device of carved horses, on which he could practice the art of ring-spearing, a tournament event in which a knight rides his horse full speed, lance in hand, toward a small ring hanging from a tree limb, with the object of spearing the ring. This event was known by various names throughout the lands, but generally came to be called ‘carrousel.'
The carrousel device drew the attention of the villagers, who wanted to take a turn on this amazing spinning contraption. So Prince Charming had a second carrousel constructed closer to the Castle, where everyone could take a spin on this wondrous invention. Instead of a working knight’s training device, however, this new carrousel is more befitting its regal location in the Castle Courtyard – its rustic training horses replaced with ornately decorated prancing steeds adorned with golden helmets and shields, flower garlands, feathers and other festoons. Prince Charming invites one and all to test their horsemanship skills and to enjoy their own happy ending.”
The carousel is beautifully decorated. The horses have a variety of colour schemes: reds, blues, yellows, oranges, greens. The central column is decorated in a diamond pattern, with mirrors reflecting the guests astride their steeds. Lights run along the edges of the carousel's roof.
Around the outside of the roof are painted scenes from the story of Cinderella.
The carousel itself is housed with a wider, medieval tent-like structure topped with flags and a large cone structure in the centre.
This carousel ride has existed at the park, in various forms, from pretty much the beginning making it one of the oldest attractions at Disney World.
In Tokyo Disneyland, Castle Carrousel is a very similar ride, including similar decoration and the Cinderella images around the top of the attraction. At Hong Kong Disneyland there is yet another iteration of the ride named, rather bluntly, Cinderella Carousel. The tent structure covering of this ride is slightly different to the other two - it lacks the cone structure at it's centre, but it also includes scenes from Cinderella around the roof and similar decorations on the ride.
There's not a lot else to say about this classic ride apart from the fact that it will always be a ride we spend time on, as my daughter loves a carousel. Simple and unthrilling it may be, but it's a classic and a mainstay of the parks - even those without a 'Cinderella' version still have carousels at the heart of Fantasyland.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, is also a quite prominent figure at a number of locations. She is the 'owner' of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. There are a number of boutiques at different locations including Disney World, Disney Springs, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland. There's even a boutique available on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.
At the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, girls can become princesses and boys can become knights. The Fairy Godmother's 'fairy godmother's in training' transform girls with pretty dresses, hair and make-up and a scattering of glitter (all for a pretty price...).
Whilst I imagine this is a popular attraction for girls, I'm not convinced as many boys would opt for the 'be a knight' package.
Dressing up will always be popular with boys and girls, though, and despite the hefty $200 price tag for the full package, I'm sure this attraction is usually busy.
It's not an attraction I ever think we'll partake in, simply for the fact that the extra price on top of what is already an expensive holiday, makes this very unappealing.
Cinderella's Royal Table
Cinderella's Royal Table is an expensive table service restaurant located inside the Cinderella Castle at Disney World. It's the sort of restaurant that you need to reserve well ahead of your visit and involves paying up front for you to then choose, on the day, from various set menus (depending on if you are eating breakfast, lunch or dinner).
Before entering the restaurant itself, you will be received by Cinderella herself in the grand hall. The building looks and feels like a medieval castle/cathedral with high, vaulted ceilings, archways and wooden beams.
After meeting Cinderella, guests are summoned by chiming bells and you advance upstairs (either by steps or lift) to the restaurant itself.
Here you will see an arrangement of tables in a sort of circular-shaped room. It has flags hanging from the ceiling and various shields adorning the walls.
Whilst eating, guests can also meet other princesses such as Jasmine, Ariel, Snow White and Aurora. If you are lucky enough to get a window seat, your view looks out across Fantasyland and, in particular, the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel and Sir Mickey's which fits rather nicely with the medieval, fairy tale vibe for the restaurant.
Cinderella, and its associated characters, is a film with a large presence across all the Disney parks.
Meet and greets with Cinderella herself are regular occurences across the parks at venues such as Cinderella's Royal Table and the Princess Fairytale Hall (at Disney World); the Princess Pavillion and Auberge de Cendrillon (Disneyland Paris); her Wishing Well at Hong Kong Disneyland and even, on rare occasions, in the France area of Epcot.
Alongside Cinderella you may be lucky enough to also meet her husband Prince Charming. He may be seen at Auberge de Cendrillon at Disneyland Paris or at the Grand Floridian's 1900 Park Fare dinner. He is, of course, often seen accompanying Cinderella on many a parade at the various parks.
For me, some of my favourite characters are the Disney villains and Cinderella's horrid stepmother and stepsisters can often be seen flouncing around the parks pretending they are more important than they actually are. One time you can be sure to see Lady Tremaine is around Hallowe'en.
Sadly, Gus and Jaq are not often available to meet and greet in the various parks. Their friends, though, Suzy and Perla are regular attendees at Auberge de Cendrillon at Disneyland Paris. Suzy also often appears at the World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland.
Cinderella's kind benefactor, the Fairy Godmother occasionally meets and greets in both Disney World (behind the Cinderella Castle), Disneyland and occasionally in Tokyo Disneyland (near the carousel).
And meet and greets aren't the only place. When we visited Disneyland Paris a few years ago, the Fairy Godmother was on a parade float with other magical characters such as Merlin. Many of the other characters feature in various parades and indeed, Cinderella's pumpkin coach is a spectacular part of the Main Stree Electrical Parade.
Shanghai Disneyland is the newest theme park and it features a rather oddly-named window-service snackery: Fairy Godmother's Cupboard. Here you can purchase a pepperoni pizza, a pineapple sundae or a variety of drinks including the intriguing Bibbidi Bobbid Brew.
Cinderella is also featured in a number of attractions which draw on different films for their inspiration including the Storybook Land Canal Boats (although only in the Disneyland version); the now defunct Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour featured Cinderella and Lady Tremaine; Cinderella, in her rags, appears in the France area of It's a Small World at Disneyland, accompanied by Jaq and Gus. I've also seen images of Cinderella (in her blue dress) and Prince Charming but I can't seem to identify which iteration of the attraction they appear in (it's possible the Disneyland Paris version, but I can't be sure). Gus and Jaq even used to play the trombone in the now defunct Mickey Mouse Revue.
Cinderella, and other characters, often feature in the many shows and firework displays, performed at the parks: Lady Tremaine, for example, often features in the various Hallowe'en extravaganzas. Some of these are even named after Cinderella such as Cinderella's Surprise Celebration and Cinderellabration: Lights of Romance. There is even a unique stage sequel to Cinderella only performed aboard the Disney Cruise Line - Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story. Some of these shows I plan on examining in further blog posts.
Cinderella is such an iconic film and such an important part of the Disney experience that, whichever park you visit, you're sure experience a little bit of magic courtesy of Cinderella and her many friends (and enemies). Now, organise me a meet and greet with Lucifer and I'll be a happy man.