For decades, Walt Disney World guests have dreamed of spending the night in Cinderella Castle -- a night when, as the clock strikes 12, the magic doesn't end. And during "The Year of a Million Dreams," in 2007, the dream finally came true for lucky guests following a magical transformation within the Magic Kingdom landmark.
Unused space originally envisioned as in-park accommodations for the Disney family was transformed into Cinderella Castle Suite.
Eligible guests were selected as part of the unique Disney Dreams Giveaway, which began Oct. 1, 2006. For the castle stay, a Walt Disney World guest at a park or Downtown Disney was selected randomly by early in the afternoon most days beginning in late January. The guest and up to five members of their party began their dream-come-true night that evening at Cinderella's Royal Table, the popular restaurant located in Cinderella Castle.
After the rest of the Magic Kingdom guests had headed home, the lucky guests kept the castle lights burning brightly well into the night, wrapping themselves in the cozy comforts of their dream suite -- a salon, bedchamber and bathroom off of a private marble-floored lobby some four stories above the surrounding Magic Kingdom, replete with rich details befitting the 17th century fairytale and the French chateaus that inspired the design of Cinderella Castle:
Fluffy feather comforters beneath the regal canopy draping of two queen beds ... A cut-stone bedchamber floor inspired by the mosaic art masterpiece that adorns the castle's breezeway entrance to Fantasyland ... ... A parlor sofa that invites kicking off the shoes and curling up to read a chapter beneath a vaulted ceiling of the salon ... Rich, wood-paneled walls, stained-glass windows, and glimpses of the familiar gray castle stone.
While the idea of having living quarters inside Cinderella Castle dates to the time when Walt Disney World Resort was being planned, until now the space has been a backstage area -- essentially a blank canvas for a creative team from Walt Disney Imagineering. In the fashion of a Disney attraction, Cinderella Castle Suite is emerging regally from their meticulous research and design skills.
"The architecture of the castle, the Cinderella story and the suite are all interwoven," said Stephen Silvestri, the Walt Disney Imagineering show producer/director who is leading a team of designers and craftsmen in the dream makeover. "We want our guests to feel as though they are inside our castle but also immersed within the fantasy realm of the Cinderella story."
In the lobby of the suite, guests will discover a design of the fairytale pumpkin coach in the marble floor inlay. A memorable artifact from the story -- perhaps the famous glass slipper -- will adorn a cove. And through the doorway, the bedchamber and salon are appointed with furnishings in the style of the era of "the Louies," as Silvestri refers to the French rulers of the period inspiring the castle and Cinderella story. Nooks showcase sculpted pieces, clocks and porcelain all befitting the period. Doors are richly detailed; the walls are covered with wood panels and wall coverings. In the bathroom, hand-decorated copper basins sit atop the vanity, recalling a time when fresh water was carried to the bedchamber.
Despite all the careful attention to centuries-old details, the amenities of the Cinderella Castle Suite are definitely 21st century. There's a lavish garden tub plus a shower. There are also wheelchair accessible bathroom and bedroom facilities and elevator access to the suite. As for a 17th-century-style painting above a regal fireplace: it frames a modern 21st-century flat-screen television.
"We want to balance the practical realities within the fantasy place to make the experience truly a dream-come-true for our guests," Silvestri said.
Cinderella Castle Suite: A Regal Tour
- Cinderella's Coach mosaic tile floor contains more than 30,000 tiles, including 3,400 24-carat gold and more than 120 white-gold pieces.
- The tile creation entailed four months of hand-cut work by four craftswomen who share more than 100 years of experience working with mosaics.
- (Coming) -- Custom-made -- and priceless -- glass slipper (Steuben Glass).
- From the Netherlands, a Dutch secretary desk (17th century) with inlaid wood and velvet-lined shelves.
- From Thailand, three hand-woven rugs.
- Two authentic antique "slipper" chairs. They look like children's furniture, but were actually used during the 17th and 18th century by adults who sat in the chairs to put shoes on.
- Two custom designed headboards stand 8 feet, 2 inches with "C" (for Cinderella) crest.
- Venetian glass sconces adorn either side of the fireplace and contain a Cinderella and prince likeness etched on each.
- A painted portrait of Cinderella magically changes to a television above the fireplace, using newly created special effects dreamed up by Imagineers.
- Inspired by the Cinderella story, playful carved mice cavort on support columns.
- 600-pound antique limestone fireplace -- 17th century Gothic molded from an original wood fireplace from France. The fiber optics give the appearance of a fire with glowing embers.
- Two cinder pots reflect Cinderella's humble roots. Made from hand-hammered copper. French reproduction, red with gold accents.
- Rich wood furnishings. Mahogany and maple throughout.
Royal Sitting Room
- Magic mirror -- based on French design. Special glass mirror that transforms into a TV as part of the entertainment center.
- Custom designed sofa bed -- one-of-a-kind with French-carved details.
- Stained-glass windows telling the story of Cinderella. They face west fittingly toward Cinderella's Golden Carrousel in Fantasyland. Crystal jewels adorn the windows.
- Right and left mirrored spaces in the parlor open to reveal hidden drawers and space for hanging clothes. (Castles always were full of hidden doors.) The center space opens to reveal the DVD player and small refrigerator.
- Grotto-inspired design.
- Ceiling features a dome of twinkling stars.
- Custom-made 4 x 4, multi-jet Jacuzzi tub with waterfall faucet and Chromatherapy Lighting.
- Three mosaics containing a total of 30,000 tiles made of Italian smalti glass, hand-cut and placed by Disney artisans. Features include a crystal slipper, a crystal pumpkin, the initials "WD" (Walt Disney) and a mouse looking up toward the castle -- plus a few other surprises.
- Hand-hammered copper leaf basins with silver leaf.