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If you’ve never visited a Disney theme park, you may not know how Disney World and Disneyland compare. Though they have a lot in common, there are also some big differences.
For example, you may know that the castles featured prominently within Disney’s parks are different from each other. But how different are they? And what about them is the same?
Let’s look at the Disneyland castle versus the Disney World castle, what to expect when visiting and the unique features each offers.
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The main difference between Disneyland vs. Disney World castles
In 1955, Disneyland opened in California, and Sleeping Beauty Castle was unveiled. The castle is at the entrance to Fantasyland, and guests can walk through its iconic gates to the many attractions within the land.
Cinderella Castle, meanwhile, is on the opposite side of the country in Florida, within Walt Disney World.
Disney World consists of four distinct theme parks, one of which is the Magic Kingdom. This eastern equivalent of Disneyland features the much larger Cinderella Castle and was opened in 1971.
Aside from size, location and age, there are a few other key differences between Disney World’s castle versus Disneyland’s castle — namely, which activities are available within each castle’s walls.
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Sleeping Beauty Castle vs. Cinderella Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle
The Disney castle in California draws its inspiration from Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle, which savvy parkgoers will recognize from the Soarin’ Around the World attraction.
Though Disneyland — and the 77-foot castle — opened in 1955, the interior of the castle wasn’t accessible until two years later.
Nowadays, there are two areas to explore within Sleeping Beauty Castle. The first is the main walkway, which acts as a transit corridor between sections of the park.
The second is the castle walkthrough, within which you can explore the story of Sleeping Beauty via a series of dioramas.
For those interested in visiting, be aware that the walkway is narrow and winding and includes stairs. An accessible option via a virtual screen is also available.
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The 189-foot Cinderella Castle dominates your view when you walk into the Magic Kingdom. As a centerpiece of the park, Cinderella Castle includes a lot more action for Disney guests than its California counterpart.
Like Disneyland's castle, Disney World’s castle includes a walkthrough that’ll take you from the main entry into Fantasyland. However, Florida’s version does not include walkthrough attractions.
Instead, guests wanting to visit the inside of Cinderella Castle have several options from which to choose.
The first of these is difficult but attainable, while the second is not available to the general public — but some lucky folks have managed to find their way inside. Finally, a third option is great for those visiting with young children.
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Cinderella’s Royal Table
For the regular guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table is your best bet for access inside Cinderella Castle. This fine-dining restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it includes visits from a rotating variety of Disney princesses.
Cinderella’s Royal Table isn’t cheap; expect to pay more than $60 per adult no matter when you’re dining.
Note also that Cinderella’s Royal Table is very popular. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance; for the best success in scoring one, you’ll want to set your alarm for when the booking window opens.
Those staying at a Disney World resort have earlier access to dining reservations, which may help when booking sought-after restaurants.
Alternatively, you may want to check for last-minute cancellations. The Disney World app includes live availability, and refreshing often can sometimes snag you a last-minute reservation.
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Cinderella Castle Suite
Cinderella Castle also includes one of the most sought-after suites in the world. Though not available for regular booking, the Cinderella Castle Suite is a stunning room within the castle.
The room features two beds, a sofa bed and a spa bathroom, all of which are exquisitely designed. Disney doesn’t sell access to this suite; rather, it’s reserved for contest winners and certain VIP guests, so getting a look inside is very uncommon.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Fans of "Cinderella" will remember the transformation scene, in which the Fairy Godmother turns Cinderella’s tattered dress into a gown and a pumpkin into a carriage.
Named after this iconic event, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique aims to do the same for children ages 3 to 12.
During a 90-minute makeover, girls and boys will be dressed up and transformed into miniature royals while their guardians look on. Children at heart aren’t allowed to participate, but up to two adults can watch.
There are a couple of packages from which to choose for the boutique, including various hair, makeup, costume and accessory options. Prices start at $99, plus tax.
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Disneyland vs. Disney World castles, recapped
No conversation about Cinderella Castle or Sleeping Beauty Castle is complete without mentioning their differences.
Sure, both castles act as centerpieces within their parks, but the older Sleeping Beauty Castle in California features less interaction for guests. Florida’s Cinderella Castle isn’t the original Disney castle, but it does provide a restaurant and fairy-tale suite for those lucky enough to find their way in.
Still, regardless of which castle you decide to visit, you’re bound to find yourself having a magical time with great memories to take home.
(Top photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort)
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