Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough

One of the newest attractions at Disneyland is also one of the oldest: the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough. Long time visitors to the park will relish the fact it's returned - this attraction was shuttered some time in 2001 but, like the submarines, came back in a freshened yet familiar manner.

The attraction is, as described, a self guided walk-through experience; guests enter on the west side of the castle and walk up, over, back down, and exit on the east side. The storyline is told in a series of illuminated manuscript pages and dioramas and is worth everyone's time.

The vignettes appear at first to be nothing more special than the window displays on Main Street USA but the patient viewer will be rewarded with effects befitting a princess. It's a bit like visiting an aquarium; with nose pressed to the glass and little kids up front groups move through the attraction. Try to tune out the ambient nose and the teenagers - if you're able.

There are quite a few beautiful touches here and the interested visitor would be wise to check out Daveland's page to see more of the forced perspective and Pepper's Ghost features.

I was especially impressed with the woodwork throughout the attraction and the stylistic dedication to Eyvind Earle's background serigraphs, which served (for me) as the focal point for the 1959 movie. Look for the sqaure topped trees and you'll know what I mean.

The attraction will easily take 20 minutes of your time. Anything less will cause you to miss a few surprise elements here and there. I was struck by the many different slight of hand elements I witnessed. In many ways, it's a compendium of all the various tools of the trade located elsewhere in the park. See how many you can spot and which other attractions come to mind when you experience them.

Purists will revel in the fact the return brought back the look and feel of the 1957 attraction and not the much maligned Barbie Doll version which debuted in 1977. So, if you've a jones for the Castle and an appreciation of Eyvind Earle and theatrical tricks, stop by the next time you're in the park. It's well worth it.

These photographs were taken by the author in February, 2009.