Nothing says you’ve arrived at Disney World quite like seeing Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.
Since the theme park first opened in 1971, the iconic landmark has welcomed both longtime parkgoers and first-time guests. However, it hasn’t always looked exactly the way it does in pictures.
From a pink birthday overlay to new lighting features, here’s how Cinderella Castle has changed over the years.
CINDERELLA CASTLE WAS CONSTRUCTED OVER THE COURSE OF 18 MONTHS IN 1970.
As seen in vintage video footage posted by Disney on YouTube, Cinderella Castle — as well as the rest of Magic Kingdom — was built across barren land.
According to Disney World, materials like concrete, steel, plaster, cement, and fiberglass were used during construction of the castle, but bricks surprisingly played no part, despite the castle’s outward appearance.
BY OPENING DAY, DISNEY IMAGINEERS HAD CREATED A BUILDING ACTUALLY WORTHY OF A PRINCESS.
Disney World opened for business on October 1, 1971. At the time, lush greenery surrounded the front of Cinderella Castle, which was painted with light blues, grays, and golds.
Each spire was also topped with a small flag. To this day, the castle still stands as the tallest structure in Magic Kingdom, reaching 189 feet.
THE CASTLE MAINTAINED ITS ICONIC APPEARANCE IN 1995, MORE THAN TWO DECADES AFTER THE PARK FIRST OPENED.
In photographs from that year, the castle looked mostly the same as it had on opening day. However, its spires were seemingly painted a darker shade of blue than they were originally, and colorful flags were placed in front of the castle entrance.
IN 1996, HOWEVER, DISNEY COVERED THE LANDMARK WITH A PINK BIRTHDAY-CAKE OVERLAY TO CELEBRATE THE PARK’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY.
The castle was transformed on October 1, 1996, according to the Disney Everyday blog. It was covered in pink paint that looked like icing, candy-cane spires, and 26 decorative birthday candles. The overlay remained in place until January 31, 1998.
While some people loved the transformation, others weren’t as impressed. After all, people travel from across the world to have their photo taken in front of Cinderella’s home — not a larger-than-life cake.
THE CASTLE WAS DECORATED AGAIN IN 2005 AS PART OF A WORLDWIDE DISNEY CELEBRATION.