There’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing a Disney castle for the first time. You’ve waited for it, eager with anticipation, and when it first appears in view it serves as a beacon, letting you know that you’ve entered a place where fantasy will soon become part of your reality.

Imagineers themselves get goosebumps around a Disney castle. And that feeling of hope and possibility is what we want to share with the whole world. So when we set out to bring fantasy into reality once more at Shanghai Disneyland, we wanted the castle to be truly epic to inspire all of the dreamers that would gather around it. Enchanted Storybook Castle is the tallest, largest and most complex Disney castle ever built. But bringing fantasy into reality is about more than just an incredible structure; it’s about how that structure comes to life, and it’s also about the life that lives within its walls.

Groundbreaking Design & Planning Technology

So how do you bring such an epic structure to life? Well, as kids, many Imagineers loved playing with building blocks. As adults, we love using new toys in the form of advanced technology tools to enable ever more sophisticated designs and accomplishments. For Enchanted Storybook Castle, Walt Disney Imagineering employed Building Information Modeling (BIM) to virtually represent our intended structure with a high degree of fidelity and meaningful detail in three dimensional digital space. This approach gave us the ability to realize our vision with exacting precision and to plan for its construction, maintenance and operation with a new degree of foresight. We were honored to be recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for our innovative methodology in this arena. And we’re especially honored to inspire the next generation of kids with new building blocks to one day do the same.

Life within the Castle Walls

But a castle is more than its structure. It is a building brought to life by the stories it holds. How could we design this landmark for Shanghai Disneyland in a way that could hold many stories and inspire many more? Rather than dedicating Enchanted Storybook Castle to a single princess, this is a palace that celebrates all of the Disney Princesses by giving a home to each of their stories and inspiring aspiring royals to inhabit their favorite tales. Within its walls, Enchanted Storybook Castle is resplendent with artful representations, thoughtful details and opportunities to explore, from the “Once Upon A Time” Adventure walk-through attraction where guests encounter Snow White, to the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto boat ride that ventures into the castle’s secret underground chambers.

Distinct Design Elements Matter

Thoughtful details can make a space personal. With Enchanted Storybook Castle, Imagineers followed a very intentional creative principle: “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese.” That principle guided many details, large and small, throughout the castle’s design. Atop the central and tallest of its eight towers stands a finial in the form of a golden peony — a flower representing China, floating above a cascade of Disney shooting stars. Two other spires boast golden finials in the form of magnolia flowers, an homage to Shanghai, and a crown, representing the Disney Princesses. Even small details like these make a massive statement in elevating a place beyond the everyday.

Spectacular Technological Integration

In a land of fantasy, there’s always reason to gather and celebrate. By night, Enchanted Storybook Castle serves as the focal point for the energy and wonder of Shanghai Disneyland. By precisely choreographing pyrotechnics, fireworks, animated fountains and projection mapping technology, Imagineers craft a nightly farewell that’s enough to give anyone goosebumps.