Disney has announced that Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom will receive a “bold, shimmering and royal makeover.” This comes ahead of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, and fittingly includes gold trim and accents. In this post, we’ll share the new concept art and offer some commentary.
Walt Disney World has stated that this exciting work will start to take place as these stunning enhancements begin in the coming weeks, continuing through summer. During these changes, shows that involve Cinderella Castle, such as “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” and “Happily Ever After” will continue.
What’s unclear is how this will be accomplished. Will a giant scrim cover Cinderella Castle, as occurred at Disneyland while Sleeping Beauty Castle prepared for the 60th Anniversary and again when it received its new color scheme last year? Will the infamous Cinderella Castle Crane make an appearance?
The latter seems like the most likely scenario for continuing to run Happily Ever After, and it’s especially plausible since this crane is still (or at least was last week) behind Cinderella Castle for the removal of the Christmas Dream Lights.
However, I doubt all of this work can be accomplished with a single crane. It’s likely that additional heavy machinery will be brought in to enable the royal makeover to be done, as coffer dams have already been installed in the moat around Cinderella Castle.
Whether construction is done in the overnight hours as unobtrusively as possible remains to be seen. That has been the case with the installation and removal of the holiday lights for each of the last few years. This is also how the walkways around Cinderella Castle were widened last year, and it really only impacted photos from the Tomorrowland and Liberty Square bridges. Straight-on photos weren’t impacted.
It’s also possible that a giant scrim will be installed with construction occurring over the course of 5-6 months. Obviously, this would impact photos and the guest experience. The Happily Ever After fireworks could continue to run in modified form, sans projections. A more elaborate construction project like this is plausible, but it might upset guests who have booked dessert parties, weddings, etc. (Personally, I’m in favor of as much TLC as possible, and would be fine with this approach.)
This royal makeover of Cinderella Castle is supposed to be exciting news that will hype up guests. The possibility that there might be a giant construction scrim up for several months would definitely throw a wet blanket on enthusiasm among Walt Disney World fans, which could be why Disney proactively stated that Happily Ever After will continue during the work. For what it’s worth, there’s currently a similar project underway at Tokyo Disneyland, where their Cinderella Castle looks like this:
That construction project on Japan’s Cinderella Castle has been incredibly comprehensive, with elements of the structure physically removed for refurbishment. (We shared more photos in our Urban Legend Come True: Cinderella Castle’s Top Spire Removed post.)
If the concept art for Magic Kingdom is any indication, some the changes to Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World would put it more in line with Tokyo Disneyland’s castle. The primary difference is the gold trim, but Japan’s version of Cinderella Castle has always used a two-tone color scheme on those same areas of Cinderella Castle.
Above is a closer look at the concept art for the royal makeover of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. One of the things that initially caught our attention was the dreamy, almost pink or rose gold look to the (previously/currently) beige areas of Cinderella Castle.
Upon doing a little digging, we no longer believe this is a change. See below…
That’s the photo you’ll find right now if you visit DisneyWorld.com’s Cinderella Castle page. (The top image in this post is actually an overlay I made in Photoshop of the concept art Disney released on top of this photo.) This picture almost certainly serves as the stock image for the royal makeover concept art. You notice the same soft and warm light on that, which is due to the morning golden hour light.
That photo was probably shot shortly before park opening at a time when Cinderella Castle can appear varying shades of pink and golden due to the sunrise color. (See my photo below.) While there could be a pink hue added with this new color scheme, we believe that appearance in the concept art is simply due to the time of day the source photo was shot.
Another interesting thing here is the timing. Per Walt Disney World’s announcement, this will begin almost immediately and continue through this summer. While it’s unknown when the 50th Anniversary celebration will start, it’s safe to assume the answer is not any time in 2020.
Our expectation is that Fall 2021 is when Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary festivities will kick-off. Probably on October 1, or maybe shortly before (September 2021 would be a savvy time to start the event, as it could draw crowds to the least-busy month of the year). There’s an outside chance that the celebration could begin in May 2021 if it’s going to be an 18-24 month event.
There’s almost no way that Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will begin this summer. Between that and the conspicuous absence of the 50th Anniversary in the press release about the upcoming makeover of Cinderella Castle, we’re thinking that this is not specifically for that milestone. (Cinderella’s 70th Anniversary is mentioned, but that’s likely just convenient timing.)
Now, it’d be a pretty big coincidence for Cinderella Castle to receive a new look accentuated by gold right before Magic Kingdom’s golden anniversary. Perhaps that’s because this is intended to be a permanent look? Maybe there’s going to be additional artifice and decor added on top of this next year, and this is simply the “foundation” for whatever’s coming next year?
This makeover of Cinderella Castle being permanent seems likely. Unlike a bunch of whirligigs, inflatable cake elements, or a gigantic frame, these are the kinds of subtle aesthetic changes that won’t need to be undone come 2022. Whether that means Cinderella Castle will have its brand new look hidden behind a bunch of additional decor next year–or that this is simply the style for the golden anniversary–remains to be seen.
Overall, we like what we see thus far. Concept art often doesn’t accurately reflect the finished product, but either way, we’re ready for a new look for Cinderella Castle. Our initial inclination here is that the deeper blues coupled with some golden accents look regal and grand. With this, we’re willing to take a wait and see mentality. Here’s hoping Cinderella Castle receives some TLC in the process of this royal makeover, and is looking better than ever for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!
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What do you think of Cinderella Castle’s royal makeover? Are you a fan of the gold trim? Think more will be done for the 50th Anniversary, or do you suspect this is it? Do you expect a giant scrim to go up, or work to be done overnight via cranes? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!