Fantasyland in Disneyland is full of wonders that are just waiting to be discovered. No matter how many times you’ve been to the magical land, we bet there’s at least one of these Fantasyland secrets you don’t know!
“Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.” - Walt Disney on July 17, 1955
Disney’s words will forever ring true to those who visit Disneyland, whether you are young or young at heart. From the moment you step onto Main Street U.S.A., you can feel the magic come alive. Delicious smells and fantastic sights rise to greet you.
Will you take off on the rocket ship to Tomorrowland? Or will you walk through the torches and shields of Adventureland to take a sharp left…where true adventure waits around the corner? This is the decision-making moment that Walt always imagined would take place at the hub. He wanted guests to notice what attraction or landmark grabbed their attention and head that way.
Which is why Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, looming and glittering above the hub, leads guests to Fantasyland. The classic land holds many wonders and secrets, even to those who frequent Disneyland. Let’s make the decision to cross the drawbridge and explore the Fantasyland secrets waiting for us.
The Fantasyland Secrets You Never Knew
Forced perspective: Just like many other buildings at Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is built using an engineering technique called forced perspective. Forced perceptive forces the eye to believe that something is a different size or alignment than reality. The castle is only 77 feet tall, but many believe that it is much taller. An example of forced perspective is the size of the bricks. Look closely at the bricks and you will see that the bricks on the bottom are much larger than those on the top, helping to create the illusions of a larger castle.
Built after King Ludwig’s Castle in Germany: Neuschwanstein Castle is a Bavarian castle originally built by King Ludwig II in Germany from 1869-1886. This towering beauty was the model for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. In addition to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the Neuschwanstein Castle has been the inspiration for many of the castles found within Disney movies.
A working drawbridge: The drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the only one in any of the Disney Parks that actually works. While this Fantasyland secret is known by some, many don't realize that the drawbridge has only been lifted twice. Once for opening day on July 17, 1955 and again in 1983 when Fantasyland underwent remodeling.
Jingles the Carousel Horse: Jingles is the official lead horse of the carousel. Mary Poppins often rides the horse when she wanders through Fantasyland. If you look closely at Jingles’ saddle, you can find an umbrella and the number 50 carved there, which was part of the 50th Anniversary celebration. Jingles continues to be the favorite of many Hollywood stars including Julie Andrews and Tom Hanks.
A backwards top: Yes, one of the Fantasyland secrets is that the top of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is on backwards. At least if you refer to the original castle design. While designing, Walt’s team had accidentally rotated the top when creating the 3D model. He liked it, so the top stayed as it was. If you take a detour into the Opera House on Main Street, U.S.A., you can find the original model of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It is set with the top as originally designed, so you can compare to see if you notice the difference on the real castle.
Disney Family Crest: One of the more well-known Fantasyland secrets is that you can find the Walt Disney Family Crest as you cross the drawbridge. The crest contains three lions surrounded by flourishes and is a great thing to include on any Disneyland souvenir photo hunts.
See the inside of the castle: Many guests do not realize that you can visit the inside of the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Just find the stairs at the back of the castle and you’ll be able to experience the tale of Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty, in a whole new way.
Castle spooks: Before you leave the Sleeping Beauty experience, pull on the door at the top of the stairs. Castle spooks will pull the door back and laugh… don’t tell your friends about this Fantasyland secret and you can watch the look on their face when the door pulls back on “its own.” Just make sure to watch out for Maleficent’s shadow and voice as she seems to follow your descent back into Fantasyland.
The Evil Queen peers out at the crowd: The Evil Queen periodically opens the curtains above the Snow White attraction to peer down at the crowd. It captures a chilling moment straight from the first full-feature Disney film. Point it out to your friends and quiz them about the Evil Queen’s real name – Grimhilde, in case you didn’t know.
Don’t touch Grimhilde’s apple: Located at the entrance of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, a golden apple can be found. Evil Queen Grimhilde hates it when guests touch it. She cackles with disapproval and then joy when she finds out that she has scared guests away! It’s a rite of Disney passage (and a great way to show off your knowledge of Fantasyland secrets) to infuriate the Evil Queen at least once.
Weather vanes: For these Fantasyland secrets, you’ll want to spend some time looking up - at the buildings that is. Nearly every building in the whimsical land features a weather vane to symbolize the attraction. Look for crocodile from Peter Pan, Mr. Toad and a few other wonderful examples that illustrate the attraction under the spire.
?The broken clock: As you walk through the tunnel of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, take a moment to look up. You’ll notice a clock within the chandelier high above that appears to be broken. While there are rumors that the times are set for certain reasons (Walt’s birthday, the exact moment he gave the opening speech, etc.), Disney likes to say that it’s when the fairies last put the castle to bed.
Chopin’s Music Box: The Fantasy Faire is located just to the left of the front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It’s where guests can meet many of their favorite princesses and see a show or two. Along the walls of this area, you may notice Chopin’s Music Box, an animated box that showcases the Festival of Fools scene from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. Crank the lever and watch the entire festival come alive.
Rapunzel’s tower: Have you spotted this familiar tower in the Fantasy Faire area? Keep an eye on the sculpture after dark as it will periodically come to life to the tune of the healing song. This Fantasyland secret is a small and enchanting moment to add to your Disneyland memories.
Make a wish: Just in front of the castle, Snow White’s Wishing Well can be found. Make your wish and listen very closely. It’s been said that you’ll hear an echo back from Snow White herself.
Experience these Fantasyland secrets for yourself when you book a Disneyland vacation. Get Away Today will help you plan the most magical getaway, taking into detail things like schedules, budgets and dreams. Our discount Disneyland tickets, reduced hotel rates and expert tips will have you on an enchanted journey in no time. Book any of our Disneyland packages online or give our agents a call at 855-GET-AWAY.
Chris Dallin is a Disneyland fanatic. He travels to Disney Parks several times a year and continues to find hidden gems, adventure, joy and magic at the Happiest Place on Earth. Tune into future blogs for additional ways to experience the magic of Disney Parks.