Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty Castle, in Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful Disney castle in the world. When people ask me why they should visit Disneyland Paris, the #1 reason I give is “The Castle.” (Followed closely by their Main Street, Thunder Mesa, and Discoveryland…really, all of Disneyland Paris is the most beautifully designed and detailed of all of the castle parks.) Like Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is grandiose and majestic, standing tall at the end of Main Street, beckoning guests towards it. Like Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is quaint and charming, with lush landscaping and beautiful 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 real-life fairytale. It truly takes the best elements of all other Disney castles, combines them, and improves upon them.
When the Imagineers designed Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant 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 straight out of a fairytale. Plus, thanks to its numerous paths winding around the Castle, its castle walls, and the attractions inside it, there really are a myriad of interesting angles to photograph Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Add the nighttime spectacular, Disney Dreams to the mix, and you have by far the most photogenic Disney castle anywhere.
Let’s get started with our look at the best Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant photo spots!
End of Main Street – There so many possibilities with this single photo spot that it’s crazy. The Main Street buildings, the Castle, and the pavers on the ground are all beautiful, opening up a lot of creative possibilities. You can take a standard photo of the Castle from the end of Main Street; you can get low and use a wide angle lens so all three elements are equally prominent; you can use shallow depth of field and focus on one element. The list goes on and on, I can’t list all of the possibilities for this seemingly simple shot!
West Path to Fantasyland – This is probably my #1 spot because it captures so many of the whimsical trees, and it’s the side where Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant seems to just rise out of the ground, organically. Add to this the grass and moat, and you have a scene that looks like it’s straight out of an artist’s imagination. If I had only one photo to use to convince someone to take a trip to Disneyland Paris, it would be a photo from this path over by the entrance to Adventureland. My tip here is to use as wide of a lens as you have and focus on the grass and trees in the foreground, letting the Castle play second-fiddle to the “natural” scenery.
La Tanière du Dragon Entrance – Immediately before entering La Tanière du Dragon, you have this view of the spot where the Castle rises up out of the Earth. The combination of the rock in the foreground and the Castle with its moat rising behind it makes for an interesting composition, I think. I leaned over the edge of the rail (closer to the Castle) to get this shot, but moving around in this area should present a number of compositional options.
Center of La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant – The walk-through Sleeping Beauty exhibit is beautiful in itself, but the view back into the center of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant with guests passing through below is the prettiest part of the experience, in my opinion. There’s a lot of visual interet here, from the support columns to the ceiling to the fixtures. I prefer to go wide to capture it all, but focusing on each element can make for stunning photos, too!
Bridge to La Tanière du Dragon – Not too far from the first La Tanière du Dragon entrance spot listed above is this wooden bridge lined with ornate lampposts. I love photographing the Castle with the wood of the bridge and the lamps all in view. So many different textures and colors in one photo that you’d have to try in order to get a bad shot.
Fantasyland East Castle Walls – On the Discoveryland side of Fantasyland there are these beautiful Castle walls that mark the line between Main Street and Fantasyland (I’m not so sure they’re necessary as the area transitions without them–but they sure are beautiful). Thanks to wide pathways over here and not much in the way of attractions, we noticed this spot was frequently empty during our trip. If you’re looking for a view of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant without many people in the shot, or you want to frame the Castle somehow, this is the perfect spot.
Inside La Tanière du Dragon – I’m not sure whether the Dragon is technically in Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant or under it (I’m guessing under), but this lair is making this list regardless because it’s just too awesome to leave off. The idea of a walk-through attraction may not be appealing to some guests, but this is not to be missed. One of the flat out coolest attractions in any Disney theme park, and it’s “just” a walk-through. As far as photographing this goes, the best option for most people is going to be while the Dragon is not moving; when it starts moving, you’ll need a faster shutter speed, and it’s dark in the lair, making a fast shutter speed ill-advised. As far as composition goes, I like going wide to capture all the details of the lair, but “portraits” of the Dragon in the lair also work well.
Back of the Castle – Photos of the front of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant are much more common than the back of it, but I think the back is arguably more photogenic! Close up, from the Sword in the Stone, you can really make out a lot of the details and ornamentation (aren’t those windows just gorgeous?!), and further back you can incorporate other aspects of Fantasyland into the shot for an interesting shot. Since this castle seems like it “belongs” in Fantasyland more than any of the other castles, working it into photos of Fantasyland whenever possible is great!
Main Street Train Station – One of my favorite views in any of the castle parks is the view from the second floor of the Train Station down Main Street. It gives you an almost bird’s eye view of the park, and really drives home the oddly perfect juxtaposition of Main Street and the Castle (I mean, who would have thought to have a castle at the end of Main Street?! Yet, it somehow feels natural.) At Christmas, this view is enhanced with the Christmas Tree and garland, but any time of year Town Square and its gazebo make for an interesting foreground element with Main Street as the middle layer and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in the background.
Disney Dreams from the Central Plaza – The easiest way to get “different” photos of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is to photograph it during Disney Dreams! Just about every second is a different potential photo of the Castle in a way it doesn’t normally look. However, Disney Dreams is a show and not a photo spot, so in order to shoehorn it onto the list, I’m including it from my favorite spot to watch Disney Dreams, the north side of the Hub/Central Plaza. Disney Dreams can be very difficult to photograph even for experienced photographers, and it requires both skills and the right photography equipment.
In looking through my photos from Disneyland Paris, there are easily 5-10 more good spots, which is pretty remarkable considering that Disneyland Paris doesn’t even have a Partners statue like the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, which is a compositional element in about 50% of my photos of the US Castles!
As a bit of an aside, I’m curious as to how you feel about these Disneyland Paris articles. Please let me know in the comments so I can determine whether I should write more of them!