“It is fitting that we are announcing the return of a classic on the 53rd anniversary of Disneyland,” said Tony Baxter, Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, who unveiled a model of the castle on July 17, the birthday of Disneyland park.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” and the excitement generated by the anniversary of the motion picture spurred interest in the return of the Disneyland attraction.
Also celebrating the milestone 50th Anniversary of “Sleeping Beauty” is Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, which will release a two-disc Platinum Blu-ray™ Hi-Def disc, making “Sleeping Beauty” the first Walt Disney animated classic title to be released in high definition, as well as on two-disc Platinum DVD. A bonus feature on the new release will be “The Original Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through Attraction With Walt Disney Imagineering,” an immersive experience recreating the original castle walkthrough.
On April 29, 1957, nearly two years before the premiere of Walt Disney’s animated feature “Sleeping Beauty,” the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough opened with an in-park ceremony featuring Walt Disney and actress Shirley Temple who, some 20 years earlier, had presented Disney with his special Academy Award – one Oscar and seven little ones – for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
The crafting of the 1957 walkthrough show fell to Walt Disney Imagineer Ken Anderson and animation art director and color stylist Eyvind Earle, credited with giving the motion picture “Sleeping Beauty” the distinctive and colorful look of storybook illustrations in medieval style. An entirely new look appeared in 1977 when the attraction’s redesign featured miniature dioramas, including moving figurines similar to the window displays in the shops on Main Street, U.S.A.
When the attraction is unveiled later this year, the “show” will differ from the dioramas of the 1980s and ‘90s, returning to the unique style of the original 1957 show and motion picture. Enhanced with new scenes and special effects magic, the re-Imagineered attraction will employ technology not available in the 1950s to represent scenes from the story of Sleeping Beauty, including the magic of good fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, and the more sinister spells of the evil Maleficent.
For the first time, guests who are unable to climb stairs or navigate the passageways of the Castle will be able to experience the walkthrough “virtually” in a special room on the ground floor of the Castle.