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Neuschwanstein Castle inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is in Bavaria, near Fussen, approximately a two-hour drive south of Munich.

Unlike the traditional, dark castles, Neuschwanstein is different – its bright colors, beautiful design, and fairytale-like location make it seem out of a dream.

Built by Bavarian King Ludwig II, also known as the ‘Fairytale King,’ it is now Germany’s most popular tourist attraction. 

More than 1.5 million tourists take the Neuschwanstein Castle tour annually. 

A large part of the credit for this popularity must go to Walt Disney and Walt Disney Pictures.

This article tells the story of how a fairy tale-like castle in the German Alps called Neuschwanstein castle inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. 

Walt Disney gets inspired

Every once in a while, Walt Disney looked outside for inspiration. That is why he was known to spend a lot of time in Austrian and German book stores. 

In fact, during his two-month-long European tour in 1935, with his wife and his brother’s family, he is known to have bought hundreds of books.

During this tour, he spent two days in Munich and had a chance to see Neuschwanstein Castle. 

However, some claim that the animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer didn’t even visit Neuschwanstein Castle.

Whatever be the case, the way things unfolded in the forthcoming decades, it became sure that King Ludwig II’s castle had found a place in Walt Disney’s heart. 

Tour Rating
Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castles from Munich 4.4/5
Neuschwanstein Castle tour from Munich 4.6/5
Small group tour to Neuschwanstein Castle 4.5/5
Neuschwanstein Castle tour from Frankfurt 4.5/5
Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castles from Frankfurt 4.6/5
Private tour of both the Castles 4.7/5

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Neuschwanstein Castle’s replica in Disneyland

In 1955, two decades after his European tour, Walt Disney inaugurated Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

It was the first of many Disneylands that would crop up all over the world. 

Interestingly, this tourist attraction had a 23 meters (77 feet) high Sleeping Beauty Castle that looked precisely like Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. 

Neuschwanstein Castle vs Sleeping Beauty Castle
A quick comparison of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Sleeping Beauty Castle in California. Images: DisneyParks & Schwangau.de

The version at Disneyland is the only Disney castle whose construction was overseen by Walt Disney.

The castle’s designer Roland E. Hill used the concept of forced perspective to make it seem taller than it really was.

Hill achieved this by making the design elements at the foundation larger than the details at the turrets. 

Many replicas follow

Since Walt Disney inaugurated Neuschwanstein inspired Sleeping Beauty Castle in California, many more have been built worldwide. 

Even though they are named differently, every Disneyland has a castle:

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The first Disney logo showed the profile of Mickey Mouse, the character central to everything the company produced. 

Walt Disney's first logo

In 1995, the Disney logo transformed and included a light blue castle with the text ‘Walt Disney Pictures.’

Walt Disney logo with castle

The Cinderella’s Castle used in the logo was meant to create a sense of curiosity. And Disney offered a ticket to get inside and quench this interest. 

With time even their movies started with an animation of the Neuschwanstein Castle inspired logo.

Since then, the logo has changed many times, but the castle has been a permanent fixture. 

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What’s so special about Neuschwanstein Castle

Some say Walt Disney’s castle wasn’t just inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle but by many others such as Château d’Ussé, Fontainebleau, Palace of Versailles, Châteaux of Chenonceau, Chambord, Pierrefonds, Chaumont and Alcázar of Segovia.

The other castles may have been similar in design, but Neuschwanstein castle stands out because of its location. 

‘Mad King’ Ludwig II’s castle is nestled in the Bavarian Alps, which summer or winter makes it seem like a fairytale. 

Fairytale like Neuschwanstein Castle in Autumn
Nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle’s fairytale location makes it a pretty sight all through the year. This photo was taken in autumn. Image: Senna Relax
Neuschwanstein Castle under snow in winter
Most days in the winter Neuschwanstein Castle sees about an inch of snowfall, and average temperatures are below freezing but it looks straight out of a fairy tale. Image: Senna Relax

This fairy-tale like masterpiece is best seen from the Neuschwanstein Castle’s bridge which King Ludwig II built especially for the purpose.

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It is a story of two ‘innovators’

Ironically, the man who always gave us happy endings (remember all the Disney movies!) got inspired by a man who didn’t have a happy ending

But it is no surprise that it took an ‘out of the box’ thinker like Walt Disney to make Ludwig II’s imagination mainstream. 

After all, King Ludwig II was also different. 

In 1869, the Bavarian King built Neuschwanstein Castle for his retirement in a style that was popular at least 500 years earlier.

Interestingly, a castle built for one man today gets recognized by billions of the people, thanks to Disneyland.

So what are you waiting for? Will it be both Neuschwanstein or Linderhof Castles or just Neuschwanstein Castle?


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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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