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Magic Window on Cinderella Castle
“Happiest Celebration on Earth”

We’re in the middle of another 18-month celebration here at Yester World. This one is called the “Happiest Celebration on Earth.” It began on May 5, 2005.

“Happiest Celebration on Earth” banner

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

“Happiest Celebration on Earth” banner

The castle on the banner looks like the one at Disneyland, but technically this is not a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom.

Here at the Magic Kingdom of Yester World, the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” is an “18-month salute to 50 years of Disney theme parks.” That’s the official explanation from the PR department.


Sure, Disneyland (1955) was the first of those parks, but it’s been joined by Magic Kingdom Park (1971), EPCOT Center (1982), Tokyo Disneyland (1983), Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park (1989), Euro Disneyland (1992), Disney’s Animal Kingdom (1998), Disney’s California Adventure (2001), Tokyo DisneySea (2001), and Walt Disney Studios Park (2002). Hong Kong Disneyland (2005) is opening during the celebration. (Four of those parks had name changes in their future.)

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

Cinderella Castle in 2004, before its transformation

Here at Yester World, the centerpiece of the celebration is Cinderella Castle. Despite its complicated architecture, the fairytale castle is elegant. At 185 feet (or 189 feet or 190 feet depending on the source), its towers soar much higher than those of the European castles that inspired the design—or the 77-foot-tall Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.

But for the “Happiest Celebration on Earth,” Cinderella Castle temporarily has a bejeweled look.

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Bedazzled for the Celebration

As the transformation of the castle began in February 2005, a press release described what was happening:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.(WDW Press Release) — With preparations under way for the largest bash in Disney theme park history, Walt Disney Imagineers are hard at work on an elegant makeover that will add a glittering, golden touch to Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort, just in time for the “Happiest Celebration on Earth.”

Scheduled to debut officially in ceremonies at the Magic Kingdom theme park on May 5, 2005, the stylish transformation is inspired by the works of Renaissance artisans of the 15th and 16th centuries, while also paying tribute to the rich legacy of Disney animated films.

“This treasured Walt Disney World icon will be playfully dressed up with elegance and style to match this unforgettable celebration,” said Eric Jacobson, senior vice president of creative development, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Magic Kingdom guests will be amazed by the castle’s new look.”

As part of the 18-month salute to 50 years of Disney theme parks, Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort will be decorated with graceful touches of golden trim, rose swags, bunting and swirling bands of “pixie dust” encircling its blue spires.

“Elegance and style” are in the eye of the beholder.

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Partners in front of bling

The most prominent jewel on the castle is an enormous golden frame above the front arch. With its tall oval shape and art nouveau details, the Magic Window is reminiscent of the Evil Queen’s Magic Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—but that’s a different story, and there’s no menacing face here.

The image in the frame changes every minute. Each of the five iconic castles from Disney theme parks across the globe is rendered in a stained glass-style, accompanied by the year the park opened and its name.

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Disneyland, 1955

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Tokyo Disneyland, 1983

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Disneyland Paris, 1992

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Hong Kong Disneyland, 2005

There are only four close-up photos above. Walt Disney World appears to be missing. But it’s really there.

That’s because there are only three castle images, not five. Look closely. Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland use the same image; even the sky is identical. Along the same lines, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland share a castle image. Again, only the year and the park name are different.

The images are on three-sided vertical elements that rotate to three positions. It’s a good thing that two pairs of parks each have essentially the same castle; otherwise the old three-position rotating billboard trick would not work.

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Festive decorations

The castle’s turrets, towers, and balconies are festooned with golden swirls, bunting, and tassels.

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Chris Bales, 2006

Off to Neverland!

But there’s more. Golden sculptures of characters from classic Disney animated features have taken up residence among the other golden elements:

  • Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan (1953)
  • King Louie and Kaa from The Jungle Book (1967)
  • Flounder and Sebastian from The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa from The Lion King (1994)
  • Victor, Hugo, and Laverne from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Magic Window on Cinderella Castle

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

Illuminated at night

Okay, it’s all a bit gaudy. But the 50th anniversary of Disneyland really is a milestone worth celebrating—even if the official reason doesn’t focus on Disneyland.


It was called the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” at Walt Disney World and the “Happiest Homecoming on Earth” at the Disneyland Resort. At both locations, the 18-month event ran from May 5, 2005 through September 30, 2006.

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Different decor at Disneyland

Disneyland’s smaller castle was also decorated for the occasion, but without the swirls and sculptures—and without the Magic Window.

There was far more to the event than just decorated castles, but the castles are the focus of this article.

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Cinderella Castle restored to its usual glory

The overlay on Cinderella Castle was removed promptly at the end of 18 months. By the 2006 Holiday season, not a trace was left—except the stage for “Cinderellabration” which continued to be used for other castle forecourt shows.

pink birthday cake overlay on Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, for the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World

Photos by Allen Huffman, 1996

Pink “birthday cake” castle

As castle overlays go, the one for “Happiest Celebration on Earth” was not nearly as objectionable as the pink “birthday cake” for the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World.


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Updated February 20, 2015.