I’ve been to the “happiest place on Earth” a total of eight times in my life, starting in 1977 and the last trip taking place in 2006.

In that time frame, I’ve pretty much experienced every attraction the park has to offer with the exception of two – Club 33 and the Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through Diorama. While chances are pretty slim I’ll ever get to visit Club 33, not only due to the exorbitant fees to join this exclusive club but the alleged ten plus year waiting period, it looks hopeful that I will get to experience the walk-through in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.

Construction walls surround entrance to Sleeping Beauty DioramaMouseplanet reports that last week that a construction wall appeared around the long-locked exit to the diorama inside Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Imagineers and construction workers have been spotted entering and exiting the space, which was closed nearly seven years ago due to post-9/11 terrorist fears. While the on-site Imagineers remained tight-lipped, some construction workers revealed that they are working to restore the Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough.

The challenge that lies ahead is affordably restoring what was basically left to rot for the better part of a decade. The damage evidently is more than neglect.

Entertainment Show Services reportedly has abused the castle’s interior and demolished entire sections of the walkthrough so that elements for the “Remember” fireworks show could be installed.

No completion date has been announced, but considering the amount of work that needs to be done, MousePlanet says not to expect anything till the latter part of the year.

History of Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through

According to the 1987 book Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright, the castle was never intended to host a show. However, “empty spaces were an anathema to Walt Disney.” He challenged his Imagineers to use the limited space. After an unexpected encounter with the cats and fleas living in there, the Imagineers designed a walk-through attraction which opened April 29, 1957.

It was then redesigned in 1977, mostly to replace the original diorama that reflected the style of artist Eyvind Earle, the brilliant Production Designer of Walt Disney’s 1959 feature Sleeping Beauty. The new dioramas had more movement and depth and were highly detailed. However, some complained that they looked like Main Street Emporium display windows and lacked the artistry of Eyvind Earle.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, guest attendance and revenue at the Disney parks plummeted. The company cut theme park and resort operating costs wherever they could. So on October 7, 2001, the Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through was closed initially for “refurbishment” but over-time was dropped off the refurbishment list. The attraction’s sign eventually disappeared from its portal. And while Disneyland’s guest count and revenue recovered, the doors to Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through remained closed to guests, at least until now.

Yesterland, a site devoted to Disney attractions of the past has an excellent article on the history of this attraction along with 1977 era pictures of the actual dioramas and inside the castle.

I’m now looking forward to visiting the real thing. It will very likely be one of those attractions that is mostly overlooked by many that visit the park but will attract Disney fans such as myself, fans that truly appreciate every minor detail of a theme park that is like no other.


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