Cinderella Castle Has Changed a LOT

in Walt Disney World

Three different Cinderella Castle overlays

Credit: Disney

Cinderella Castle is an iconic staple of Walt Disney World. It holds the record of being the single most photographed structure in the entire world and is emblematic of the entire Disney company. There are rumors of it hiding secret rooms or being able to be disassembled in a flash in case of a hurricane. Guests burst into tears upon seeing it for the very first time. So, naturally, it was met with some backlash when Disney gave the iconic structure a new paint job for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

disney world 50th castle
Credit: ITM Rebekah B.

However, what many fans don’t know is that this is far from the first time Cinderella Castle has gotten a new look. From anniversary celebrations to promotions for new attractions, a lot has happened to the Park symbol over the years. Here’s a look at some of the best and worst Cinderella Castle makeovers.

The 25th Anniversary Cake Castle

Cinderella Castle decorated for Disney World's 25th Anniversary
Credit: Disney

The first and perhaps the most controversial Cinderella Castle overlay, the castle was transformed into a giant pink cake in 1996 to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary. Spires were replaced with candles and frosting, and the entire structure was decorated with oversized candy. While the decoration was cute, many Guests found the pink color and kitschy design to be an eyesore. Because the overlay was so drastic, it stayed in place for over a year, meaning a lot of Guests who visited Walt Disney World for the very first time looking for the iconic Cinderella Castle were instead met with a giant pink birthday cake. The overlay is infamous but has its fans, and Disney has recently been making reference to it during 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Stitch TPs Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle covered in toilet paper
Credit: WKMG

In 2004, the Stitch’s Great Escape! attraction opened in Tomorrowland as a replacement for the controversial and frightening ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. To celebrate the beloved blue alien’s first Disney attraction, Guests who visited the Magic Kingdom on November 16 walked down Main Street, U.S.A., to find the castle covered in toilet paper. One of the lower towers was graffiti’d with “STITCH IS KING” in red spraypaint and a crude drawing of Stitch in a crown. Many visitors were disappointed to see the iconic structure defaced, even if it was just for fun, but luckily, the castle was back to normal on November 17.

The Happiest Celebration on Earth

Cinderella Castle decorated for the Happiest Celebration on Earth
Credit: Steve Lieberman

When Disneyland celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2005, the Magic Kingdom decorated Cinderella Castle to celebrate the Park that started it all. The castle was covered in golden spirals and decorations, as well as golden statues of Disney characters that looked pretty similar to the ones currently celebrating Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. At the front of the castle was a large stained glass mural depicting the original Sleeping Beauty Castle. While the overlay was beautiful, many Guests mistook it for celebrating Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, which would not happen until 2021.

Castle Dream Lights

cinderella castle lights
Credit: Disney

During the holiday season, magic happened when the sun set at Walt Disney World. Starting in 2007, every December, Cinderella Castle is decorated with over 200,000 LED lights, shaped to create an icy pattern that cascades over the castle. They are known as the “Dream Lights” and used to be lit nightly during a stage show starring Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, until Queen Elsa and her ice powers took over in 2015. Howver, the Dream Lights vanished when the Park reopened following the pandemic closure, and rumors say that we may not see them again until the 2023 holiday season.

Which one of these overlays was your favorite? Or LEAST favorite?


in Walt Disney World

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