Translated that means, roughly, Sleeping Beauty Castle is the fairest of them all. At least that’s what I hope it means. As I learned a couple of times in France, my French is not the best (the low-light of this “learning” was accidentally requesting that a waitress carry to our table a several-foot tall menu that was propped outside a restaurant…and she did).
Disneyland Paris’ Sleeping Beauty Castle truly is the fairest of them all. With the exception of the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai that is presently being built, I’ve now seen every version of Disney’s castles (Tokyo and Hong Kong feature substantial clones of the castles in Walt Disney World and Disneyland, respectively), so I feel fairly confident making this assessment. The other castles really don’t even come close to comparing to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Disneyland Paris, either. Those discussions I’ve had with others about Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle versus Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle, with words like “quaint” and “charming” used to describe the former and “grandiose” and “majestic” used to describe the latter, now seem a bit silly. There are not enough castle-related superlatives to adequately describe the level of awesome found in Disneyland Paris’ Castle.
Much like Cinderella Castle, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is grandiose and majestic. It stands tall at the end of Main Street, beckoning guests towards it. Much like the original Sleeping Beauty Castle, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is quaint and charming, with lush landscaping and quirky details that give it a sense of childhood whimsy as if it’s something you’d actually find in a forest clearing if you stepped into a fairytale. When Imagineers designed it to contrast the “real life” castles found throughout Europe, they did an amazing job striking this balance between a real piece of architecture and a whimsical setting more appropriate to unicorns and leprechauns (I spotted neither, by the way). Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant doesn’t just offer the most interesting attractions of any of the Disney castles I’ve ever entered (photos of its dragon don’t even begin to do that sucker justice…we visited him every time we passed near the Castle), it also offers several walkways and paths through, under, and around it to explore.
Thanks to these various paths, there really are a myriad of interesting angles to photograph Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Unfortunately, at night many of these become inaccessible because of Disney Dreams, and during the days we visited, fog and overcast skies precluded most photography. The overcast skies cleared for about one hour of our trip–total. The second such time, we were over in the abysmal Walt Disney Studios Park, and immediately rushed over to Disneyland Paris to make use of what we knew would be limited time for photography. I took way too many photos in that window, including this one and a number of others around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Later that afternoon, just as the sun was about to set (around 5 pm this time of year in France), the sky teased another clearing and what could have been a glorious sunset before quickly becoming overcast again. It’s probably a good thing the sky precluded good photography during most daylight hours, as I wouldn’t have had the hard drive or memory card space for full days of shooting! From that perspective, thinking optimistically, I guess we were…lucky?