One of the unique things I love about Disney is that every time we release a new film, we're able to bring those characters to life in multiple ways. A character may begin on an animator's desk at The Walt Disney Studios, but throughout its life it will likely touch many of our businesses — from becoming the theme of a Disney park experience to being part of a new line of merchandise. Often times, this happens even before the film is released.
An early example of this process was the building of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Sleeping Beauty, which celebrates its 54th anniversary today, was in development while Walt Disney was building his dream of Disneyland. To help promote the film, Walt decided to name his castle after Sleeping Beauty — using the centerpiece of Disneyland as a tool to immerse guests in the now beloved classic.
And here's a fun fact for you: Many people wondered why Sleeping Beauty Castle was only 77 feet tall. Walt explained that unlike some of the intimidating castles built by European monarchs, he wanted his castle to feel friendly and welcoming. Although the castle is similar to the Neushwanstein castle in Bavaria, Germany, it is actually modeled after a number of medieval European castles.
Sleeping Beauty Castle — known as Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant — is also the name of the castle that opened with Disneyland Paris (then EuroDisney) on April 12, 1992.