The Disney parks are always breaking barriers and delighting fans with new experiences like the new Star Wars hotel. But Hong Kong Disneyland decided to make a splash by transforming one of the most classic attractions: the castle. Sleeping Beauty's Castle is now the Castle of Magical Dreams and is the first time in Disney history that an existing castle has been reimagined.
While it was initially dedicated to Aurora, The Castle of Magical Dreams has become a monument to 13 stories and 14 heroines (including Elsa and Anna from Frozen). Through a series of towers, turrets, and spires, each princess and queen is highlighted, ultimately doubling the original castle's height. For example, Ariel's building features a dome with scalloped details, and Mulan's boasts an embossed cherry blossom motif. To honor the original princess's palace, Aurora's dedicated tower is higher than the others.
"With this expansion opportunity, we wanted something more prominent and relevant, that represents the verticality and diversity of the city," Walt Disney Imagineering producer Amanda Chiu told Departures. "Guests will never see a complete depiction of the princess or queen's image. They only see these interpretations and through architectural and show elements. We wanted all these 13 stories to be represented equally. They all have their equal spotlight, and collectively their stories come together to make this cohesive castle statement."
The design process took four years and involved over 100 Imagineers globally. In addition to honoring the princesses, the team also wanted to celebrate local culture by incorporating Chinese architecture and balancing elements like metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. And one of the highlights has to be the 8,000 points of light that create a luminous show in the breezeway.
"There is no greater honor to our Disney Animation filmmakers than for their stories to be represented in a Disney park," Roger Gould, creative director, Walt Disney Animation Studios, told us. "It was so fun digging deep into each story and asking, 'What is really going to evoke that character, and what's going to touch the guests?' The love of these films is so deep, and once a film ends, the audience knows that those characters and their lives continue."