Disney’s Castles and the Work of the Medieval in the Magic Kingdom

  • Martha Bayless
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Since the construction of the original Disneyland Park in 1955, the castle—fancifully slender, extravagantly corbelled, strategically photogenic—has been the hub of Disneyland, the orienting beacon, the point to which all other points lead.1 In addition to serving as a physical landmark, the castle, as well as amalgamated elements from other Disney castles, has been recruited as a logofor the Disney imaginarium as a whole. Thus, although the actual Disneyland castle is diminutive as far as castles go, the castle itself is central to Disney both geographically and conceptually: simultaneously spectacle and narrative, it serves as a nexus of transformation.


Fairy Tale Theme Park Animated Film Cast Member Medieval Manuscript 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    The phrase comes from Michael Wallace, “Mickey Mouse History: Portraying the Past at Disney World,” History Museums in the United States: A Critical Assessment, ed. Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 158–82, at 159.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Beth Dunlop, Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture (New York: Abrams, 1996), 99.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    On this and other aspects of the background, see Robin Allan, Walt Disney and Europe: European Influences on the Animated Feature Films of Walt Disney (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    William Shakespeare, Henry V, The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. Blakemore Evans, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), Prologue lines 17–18, 23 (with spellings modernized).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    On Ludwig II, see Michael Petzet and Werner Neumeister, Ludwig II. und seine Schlösser: Die Welt des Bayerischen Märchenkönigs (Munich: Prestel Verlag, 1995);Google Scholar
  6. Georg Baumgartner, Königliche Träume: Ludwig II. und seine Bauten (Munich: Hugendubel, 1981);Google Scholar
  7. Werner Richter, Ludwig II., König von Bayern (Munich: Stiebner, 2001), abridged and translated as The Mad Monarch: The Life and Times of Ludwig II of Bavaria (Chicago: Regnery, 1954);Google Scholar
  8. Michael Kühler and Wrba Ernst, The Castles of King Ludwig II. (Wurzburg: Verlagshaus Würzburg, 2008).Google Scholar
  9. A more popular narrative biography is Greg King, The Mad King: The Life and Times of Ludwig II of Bavaria (London: Aurum, 1997). See also Designs for the Dream King: The Castles and Palaces of Ludwig II of Bavaria, ed. Diana Keith-Neil (London: Debretts Peerage, 1978).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle, 10 vols. (Paris, 1854–1868), 8.14. Translation from Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, The Foundations of Architecture: Selections from the Dictionnaire Raisonné, trans. Kenneth Whitehead (New York: Braziller, 1990), 195.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Desmond Chapman-Huston, Bavarian Fantasy: The Story of Ludwig II (London: Murray, 1955), 147.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Pat Williams with Jom Denney, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2004), 203.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    The fabulist R. A. Lafferty notes this possibility in his tale “The Story of Little Briar-Rose: A Scholarly Study” (available in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourth Annual Collection, ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling [New York: St. Martin’s, 1991], 463–68), in which the entire universe is merely an ongoing dream of Sleeping Beauty.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tison Pugh and Susan Aronstein 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Bayless

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations