Home » This is What it’s Like to Stay the Night in Disney’s Cinderella Castle

    This is What it’s Like to Stay the Night in Disney’s Cinderella Castle

    Castle fireworks

    Disney parks throughout the world have no shortage of things to do, characters to see and places to stay.

    There are tens of thousands of hotel rooms on Walt Disney World property alone, from luxurious surroundings at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to fun rooms near giant jukeboxes and yo-yos at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

    But the most special room of all is one that’s in the center of all the action at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. And, unlike Club 33 at Disneyland, guests can’t get on a waiting list and pay thousands of dollars to enter it. The room is actually absolutely free to stay in, but there’s a catch: you’ll have to be really lucky!

    So what is this room, and why do only a very select few ever get the chance to stay in it? Read on to learn more about the famed Cinderella Castle Suite…

    An iconic address

    Castle fireworks

    The words “Disney” and “castle” became synonymous in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland. A replica of Sleeping Beauty’s castle stands in the center of the park in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney’s movie version of “Sleeping Beauty” hadn’t even yet been released when the park opened that July, but somehow he must have known that the castle concept was a good one, as a castle became part of the Disney logo.

    More of the stately structures became the centerpieces of other Disney parks to follow, starting with the one completed in 1971 in Florida. Cinderella Castle, in the center of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, stands 189 feet tall – more than 100 feet taller than Sleeping Beauty Castle. Cinderella Castle’s height is just a little less than the dimensions that would require a flashing light on top to warn airplanes about a tall building. The design of both Walt Disney World’s and Disneyland’s castles was inspired by real places, such as Fontainebleau and Versailles, to help lend them a realistic touch. 

    Cinderella Castle wishing well

    Cinderella Castle is tall enough to be seen from Seven Seas Lagoon in front of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but a visual trick called “forced perspective” makes the castle seem twice as tall as it actually is. Surrounding the castle are rose bushes, green grass and a wishing well (coins tossed into the well are donated to children’s charities) along with a moat that contains more than 3 million gallons of water. There’s also a drawbridge, but it can’t be raised. (The drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle can be raised, however.)

    While Cinderella Castle looks as if it’s made out of marble, it’s actually a concrete, steel and fiberglass construction. Some people believe that the castle was designed in such a way that it could be taken apart in hurricane-force winds, but that’s just a myth. The castle can’t be disassembled, but it can withstand winds of 110 miles per hour.

    Common areas

    Castle murals

    Walk through the castle’s archway and you’ll find five mosaic murals that tell Cinderella’s story. The 15-by-10-foot murals feature more than 300,000 tiny pieces of hand-cut Italian glass, in more than 500 different shades. Some of those pieces are as tiny as the head of a tack. The murals took nearly two years to complete, and many of their tiles are fused with 14 karat gold and sterling silver. And once you leave the archway, you’ve entered Fantasyland.

    There are other attractions in the four-story castle that anyone can see, including Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where young guests can be transformed – through the power of makeup, hairstyling, fancy gowns and accessories – into princesses, and Cinderella’s Royal Table – a restaurant where Advance Dining Reservations must be made very far in advance in order to secure a table and where princes and princesses can dine on slow-roasted pork tenderloin, castle salad and a signature dessert called The Clock Strikes Twelve – a dome of white chocolate mousse covered in dark chocolate ganache.

    And then there’s the part of the castle that most of the general public won’t ever get the chance to see…

    Inside the suite

    Castle view

    When Cinderella Castle was being built, there was a space included in the upper levels that was intended to be a private apartment for the Disney family. This wasn’t an unusual building request, as Walt Disney had an apartment constructed on the second floor of Disneyland’s Main Street Firehouse. From that apartment, Disney watched the crowds stream in on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. A light in that space is continuously kept on in tribute to the parks’ creator.

    Sadly, the apartment in Cinderella Castle was left unfinished. The space, which takes up an entire floor of the castle, was used as a dressing room for cast members as well as a storage space and even as a room for telephone operators when the park opened. But in 2005, the Disney company announced that the apartment would finally be finished into a space called the Cinderella Castle Suite that could sleep as many as six people. It took Imagineers six months to transform the space into something that Cinderella – and Walt – would be proud of.

    Castle outside

    The suite is four stories above the Magic Kingdom and can be found from the outside by identifying the stained-glass windows that have pictures in the middle on the castle’s north and west sides, nearly two-thirds of the way up. (You can see the suite’s windows from the bridges to Adventureland and Liberty Square.) There’s also a large balcony on the east side, though its only entrance is an emergency exit.  

    To enter the suite’s “lobby,” guests go through one of the wooden doors in the castle’s archway. Behind the door is a desk, tapestry and a golden elevator door – along with a clock permanently set at about a minute until midnight. The golden elevator even has a beautiful, intricate design, and the elevator whisks the special guests to a foyer featuring a mosaic floor with a pumpkin coach design. Then guests enter the suite.

    Castle salon

    While the space isn’t large (it’s 650 square feet – about the size of a typical master bedroom and bathroom or a studio room at a Disney Vacation Club resort), it includes a salon, bedchamber and bathroom. And the Disney company didn’t skimp on the lavish furnishings: the two queen-size beds have fabric draped above them, beneath Cinderella’s royal crest, and the bedchamber’s floor has cut stone reminiscent of the castle’s archway. The salon has a custom sofa bed with French carved details, along with a mirror that magically turns into a television. A portrait of Cinderella in an ornate frame above a fireplace in the bedchamber also transforms into a TV. 

    In the bathroom is a lavish garden tub, along with a shower, and the vanity features hand-decorated copper basins. And even the toilet is fit for royalty, as it is shaped like an actual throne. The ceiling above the tub is a dark blue dome, with twinkling “star” lights.

    Castle bathroom

    The suite is filled with nooks that showcase accessories that look like they’re from the time of the Cinderella story, and there’s even a glass slipper – along with a crown, scepter and pumpkins – in a cove in the suite’s foyer. But while the décor makes guests feel like they’ve gone back in time, there are also up-to-date conveniences. Besides the modern TVs, there’s access for wheelchairs in the bedroom and bathroom, and elevator access to the suite is available.

    Castle suite fireplace

    And there are a bunch of other special features. In the Royal Bedchamber, there’s a 17th-century Dutch secretary desk, three hand-woven rugs from Thailand and two slipper chairs. The small chairs look like children’s furniture but were used by adults in the 17th- and 18th-centuries as a place to sit and put on shoes. Images of mice were carved on the room’s support columns, and the glowing “fire” in the fireplace is actually made with fiber optics. There are also two hand-hammered copper cinder pots that call back to Cinderella’s humble beginnings.

    Castle suite

    In the Royal Sitting Room, there are mirrored spaces to the left and right that open to reveal hidden spaces to store clothes, and the center space hides a DVD player and a small refrigerator filled with drinks.

    The Royal Bath’s Jacuzzi tub has a waterfall faucet along with chromatherapy mood lighting, and mosaics include the initials “W.D.,” a mouse looking up at a castle and more surprises.

    Castle beds

    The furnishings and added touches all serve to make the privileged few guests who get the chance to stay here not only feel like they’re staying in a castle but also that they’re immersed in a fairy tale – one of the most famous and most beloved of all time.

    An exclusive invitation

    Castle sunset

    So, are you ready to make your reservation? Not so fast. As previously mentioned, gaining access to Cinderella Castle Suite is even more difficult than securing admission to Disneyland’s Club 33 – which can require years on a waiting list and thousands of dollars.

    If you want to stay in the castle, you’ll need lots of luck on your side. Disney occasionally randomly picks people to stay in the suite and also sponsors contests that include a one-night stay as part of the prize.

    During the Year of a Million Dreams promotion, which started in October 2006, one family per day was surprised with a night in the castle. To select the winner during that promotion, Disney created a computer program based on a map of the entire property and chose several spots where just one guest could be at any given time, such as a seat on a park bench, in a theater or on an attraction. The computer program randomly chose a time and a seat out of thousands of possibilities, then a group of cast members called the Dream Squad came out to deliver the good news: that the guest and five of his or her family members were the lucky winners of a priceless night in the castle.  

    Another contest was held in January 2015, as part of Disney’s “Flipside” promotion, in which vacations that included a stay in the castle were given away each day. Those vacations were entered by visiting a website. If you hurry, you can enter Kellogg’s contest, which will award prizes that include a one-night stay at the suite. The entry period for Kellogg’s Family Rewards’ Storybox Vacation Sweepstakes ends Aug. 29.

    In addition to staying inside the most famous theme-park landmark of all time, contest winners generally receive even more perks – both in the castle and beyond.  Guests receive free private transportation to Walt Disney World and the services of a Disney VIP Tour Guide who gives them instant access to rides, takes them on tours and tells them interesting little facts about the park. Inside the suite, guests may find a glass slipper to take home, along with a carriage made of white chocolate that’s filled with chocolate-covered strawberries. And even towel sculptures make it into this suite – typically of a glass slipper design. Guests also have access to a concierge at any time of the day or night.

    Visitors also get a unique view of the Magic Kingdom through the parlor’s stained glass windows. The design of those windows tell Cinderella’s story as well, with images of Jaq and Gus holding a key, the famous glass slipper and the castle itself. There’s even a row of books featuring fairy tales, if guests are inspired to learn more.

    Castle back

    There are also a few rules that guests of the Cinderella Castle Suite must follow. For example, if guests want a meal, they must be escorted into the park by their VIP Tour Guide to eat and then come back to the castle. They can’t bring meals back to the suite. Guests also must either stay inside during the night’s fireworks show or be out of the room around 9 p.m. to view the show in a special area on the lawn. After the fireworks, guests can come and go all night but they must do so together as a group, along with their VIP Tour Guide.

    A room to remember

    Castle evening

    The Cinderella Castle Suite has only been occupied for a few hundred nights since it was finished. And if you’re not a contest winner, being famous could get you on the list. Celebrities who must have called in favors to their Fairy Godmothers to stay in the castle include Kevin and Danielle Jonas, who celebrated their first wedding anniversary there in 2010, and Tom Cruise, who stayed there with his daughter Suri in 2012. Other VIPs who make the Disney company lots of money (such as high-producing travel agents) have also been invited to stay in the castle suite. And Disney takes the “no reservations” pledge very seriously: the company reportedly even turned down one guest who offered to pay $40,000 for one night in the suite.

    There are so many details in the suite that guests could spend searching for them and still not see everything. Suite tours haven’t been offered since 2007, and sometimes weeks go by without a guest stepping inside.

    And if you’ve ever wondered why the space is called the Cinderella Castle Suite and not Cinderella’s Suite, it’s because Cinderella doesn’t live there. Instead, the suite is where her guests stay. Cinderella actually lives upstairs, Disney tour guides say.

    Guests are escorted out of the suite at 7:30 a.m. the day after their stay. After a breakfast featuring lobster and crab crepes, steak and eggs and baked quiche at Cinderella’s Royal Table, the suite’s visitors must confront the real world, but their memories will last forever – along with the special glass slipper souvenir they’re given, which is engraved with the words “Castle Suite” and the date of their stay.

    Another way to stay

    Royal Room

    If you’d still like to experience what it’s like to stay at Walt Disney World as a “prince” or “princess” – without having to win a contest or become a VIP – Disney now offers a different opportunity to do just that. In 2012, the company introduced Royal Guest Rooms as part of the refurbishment of its Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The rooms are hosted by Princess Tiana of “The Princess and the Frog” and feature royal touches reminiscent of the Cinderella Castle Suite.

    Tiana and pumpkin coach coat rack

    Tiana explains to guests that she has decorated the suites with “treasured mementos” from her princess friends, as a note inlaid on a table in the room reads, and the room is decorated with rich furnishings. Gold and blue are the main colors, and the beds feature Tiana’s royal crest above them. However, these headboards have a secret of their own. Press a button and a fiber-optic “fireworks” show comes to life, right in your room.

    Royal headboards

    Other special touches in the Royal Rooms are a pumpkin coach-themed rack for hanging royal coats (a gift from Princess Cinderella), forks on shower curtains (from Princess Ariel of “The Little Mermaid”), and even a golden genie-shaped bathroom faucet (a gift from Princess Jasmine of “Aladdin”). The rooms are also filled with portraits of princesses, silhouettes of princes and ornate rugs.

    Royal faucet

    The rooms also feature lush blue drapes with gold trim, stately chandeliers, ornate mirrors and furniture with gold touches. A gold curtain also separates the bathing area from the rest of the room.

    Royal Guest Room

    There are 512 Royal Guest Rooms at the resort and Tiana’s a natural host for them, since they’re part of Port Orleans Riverside’s Old South interpretation. The Royal Guest Rooms offer standard views of landscaping, the courtyard or bayou; or views of the garden, riverfront or courtyard pool. The rooms cost slightly more than the other non-royal Port Orleans rooms, and each sleep four people. Port Orleans Riverside’s Royal Guest Rooms are not in the most convenient of locations (they’re not too close to bus stops or dining areas, especially), but they may be worth a stay for fans of princes and princesses – and those who want to experience a little touch of royalty.

    Sweet castle dreams

    Castle at night

    Castles are the iconic landmarks at Disney parks all over the world. And while all of the parks offer plenty of accommodations close to the magic, there’s only one that offers an opportunity to actually stay in a castle. So if you’re hoping for a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite, maybe some faith – and a little bit of pixie dust – will make your wish on a star come true.