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This past Christmas my family and I spent several days at Disneyland.  In all the years of living in California and visiting the Happiest Place on Earth, I had never been there during the holidays.  I have to admit that I really hate crowds, but I am glad that I went because the entire park is so beautifully decorated and the Sleeping Beauty castle looks amazing–especially when it is lit up at night.  One of the things that I love about Walt Disney is that he and his wife Lilian, loved to travel the world together and it is through their travels that they brought back pieces of inspiration that led to some of the beloved and iconic attractions in the parks today. Did you know that Aurora’s castle is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany?

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I had a chance to visit Neuschwanstein Castle while visiting Bavaria last summer and it absolutely beautiful. The Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited castles in the world.   Besides being a popular tourist destination, the castle also has a pretty fascinating history. Located in Bavaria near the town of Fussen, it was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a reclusive king who was also known as the “Fairytale King”.   King Ludwig II was an eccentric king who was passionate about architecture and was responsible for commissioning and designing several amazing castles before his untimely death/murder.  When Ludwig II died in 1886, Neuschwanstein was still incomplete. The king never intended to make the palace accessible to the public, but no more than six weeks after his death, the regent Luitpold ordered the palace opened to paying visitors to pay off debts.  The palace paid for itself many times over from these tourist visits.  More recently, during WW II the castle was used but the Germans to hide stolen art and is featured in the Movie Monument’s Men starring George Clooney .

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Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castled opened July 17, 1955.  The castle is the oldest of all of the Disney castles. Though it reaches a height of only 77 feet (23 m), it was designed to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective; design elements are larger at the foundation and smaller at the turrets. The castle initially featured an empty upper level that was never intended to house an attraction, but Walt Disney was not satisfied with what he viewed as wasted space, and challenged his Imagineers to find some use for the space.Beginning April 29, 1957, visitors were able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty.  The Castle features a real, working drawbridge, though it’s only been lowered twice — Disneyland Park’s opening day, July 17, 1955, and again in 1983 to unveil the newly remodeled Fantasyland.  The crest above the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the Disney Family crest.

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