Disney, celebrating its 53rd anniversary, unveiled plans to bring back the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, which was closed in 2001.
At a press conference this morning in the Lincoln Theater on Main Street at Disneyland, Imagineers showed for the first time clips from the new, digitally restored “Sleeping Beauty” and described some of the features of the planned castle attraction.
Design plans from Imagineering involve bringing back the attraction and movie’s chief artist Eyvind Earle’s original designs for the walkthrough, highlighting vibrant, medieval storybook illustrations.
The idea for the attraction was inspired by the release of “Sleeping Beauty” on a two disc DVD and Blu-ray, which will feature a recreation of the original castle walkthrough titled, “The Original Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough Attraction with Walt Disney Imagineering.”
Senior Show Designer Chris Merritts described how, “this time last year, I presented some goon gags and we looked through drawings and found some new documentation.”
Imagineers said they were excited and amazed about the ideas for a new walkthrough — a revamp inspired by the effort to create a virtual walkthrough to include on the DVD release.
Aside from peeling back layers of the castle to uncover pieces of the old attraction, Imagineers “struggle with having no evidence of what it really looked like,” said John Gritz, technical director at Walt Disney Imagineering.
He and Merrits compared the process to an archaeology effort.
The walkthrough, which had been completely redone in the 1970s, closed in 2001 because it didn’t get enough visitors, park officials said. There are rumors circulating that the closure had something to do with the 9-11 attacks, but Disney spokesman John McClintock said that wasn’t true.
“I am aware of those rumors,” he said. “But in 2001, it really wasn’t resonating with guests. In the late 90s, early 2000s, arguably the most popular thing about Sleeping Beauty was that you could always get in because nobody went to it.”
Tony Baxter, a senior vice president with Disney, said that the walkthrough will open in time for the holidays.
“Before the last leaves of autumn fall, Sleeping Beauty will grace the castle halls,” he said.
I am a big Star Wars Disney Geek, and would love to meet some more.