You’ve no doubt heard the urban legend that the spires on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World are removable in heavy winds. Every time a hurricane is heading towards Florida, fake photos of the icon with its top removed go viral on social media.
Well, now this urban legend has come true…at least in a loose sense. Tokyo Disneyland is currently undertaking a massive refurbishment project that has its Cinderella Castle entirely begins scrims, and the top spire was just removed.
To our knowledge, this has never happened before with either version of Cinderella Castle, or any other Disney castle, for that matter. Sure, there’s the expansion project at Hong Kong Disneyland, but that’s different. As such, we thought it’d be fun to share some photos of this unprecedented dismantling. Even if you have no plans to ever visit Japan, this isn’t something you see every day…or every decade, for that matter.
Before we delve into the details of the Cinderella Castle overhaul project at Tokyo Disneyland, I want to give a quick “plug” to the urban legend about the spire removal at Walt Disney World. If you’re unfamiliar with it, check out the Snopes page answering the question, “Are the Spires on Disney World’s Cinderella Castle Removable in Case of Hurricane?” It’s a hoot.
As that points out, this is an old but thriving urban legend. It documents several prominent instances of the Walt Disney World myth spreading, with some stories having appeared in the mainstream media as far back as the 1990s. From the supposed simple removal of the spires via cranes to the more far-fetched lowering of the entire castle into the ground, that features some debunked gems.
As for what’s going on with Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland, we were pretty surprised to walk into the park and see this today. We’ve been watching this project, but thought it was a relatively straightforward refurbishment to spiffy things up ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Last week when we last left the park at closing, we noticed a flurry of construction activity, including some flourishes being removed from Cinderella Castle (we’ve also seen a ton of visible progress in the Beauty and the Beast village, but that’s another update for another day). We spent the last few days in the city, returning to the parks today once the holiday weekend crowds subsided.
As we approached via the monorail, we couldn’t quite believe that the top spire had been totally removed from Cinderella Castle. In fact, we didn’t at first. It took seeing it again from the monorail platform and then confirming once more what we thought we saw wasn’t actually an optical illusion.
Here’s a closer look at the current spire removal and other (de)construction on Tokyo Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle:
This is one of many projects currently underway at Tokyo Disney Resort. As a reminder, the Japan parks are undertaking massive expansion simultaneously with beautification ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Refurbishments are obviously an essential part of theme park operations, and the Olympics are incredibly important to Japan (evidenced by the array of projects throughout the country, not just in the parks), but there’s a lot happening all at once. Arguably, too much in a condensed timeframe.
Over the summer, we noted the current state of the parks in our Should You Avoid Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea for the Next Year?, which followed our Visiting Japan Near the Summer 2020 Olympics? post. Unfortunately, things have gotten worse since then. Now, both park icons are behind scrims (although Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea is looking a lot better). The good news here is that the vast majority of this should be finished well before next summer’s Olympics.
The big expansion consisting of the mega E-Ticket Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Fantasyland Forest Theatre, Minnie’s Style Studio, and the Happy Ride with Baymax all debut on April 15, 2020. Most work underway now (aside from the colossal Fantasy Springs site behind Bayside Station, but that’s not visible from within the parks) is likely to be finished by then.
Oriental Land Company will want a splashy media event to showcase the fruits of its multi-billion dollar investment, so anyone traveling in or after April 2020 should be fairly “safe” in terms of park aesthetics. As for the Cinderella Castle project, it’s tentatively scheduled to conclude by early April 2020.
We’re not sure what else this Cinderella Castle refurbishment entails–as noted above, we didn’t anticipate it being nearly this substantial of a project in the first place. We expected some reworked details, new roofing, perhaps a fresh coat of paint and a modified color scheme–akin to what happened last year at Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. It would seem that Tokyo Disney Resort has more ambitious plans–with construction crews clearly logging long hours to meet the April 2020 deadline.
It’ll be interesting to watch progress on these Cinderella Castle renovations, and see else is dismantled, rebuilt, added, etc., along the way. Even if you’re not planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort in the near or distant future, hopefully you at least enjoyed this unique look at a pretty uncommon project!
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
What do you think of seeing Cinderella Castle’s top spire removed? Is it surreal to see the castle without its top? Do you find this fascinating, or would you prefer not to see the park icon like this? If you’ve visited Tokyo Disney Resort recently, what did you think of all the construction? How, if at all, did it impact your trip? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment here? Any questions? 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!