Cinderella Castle Mosaic Murals

I’m going to make the assumption that all of you have at least noticed the five mosaic murals that line the wall along the corridor that passes through Cinderella Castle. These magnificent works of art were designed by Disney Legend Dorthea Redmond and tell an abridged version of the classic story “Cinderella.”

Artisan Hanns-Joachim Scharff took Dorthea’s drawings and enlarged them to full-scale, each measuring fifteen feet high and ten feet wide. Sections of these enlarged drawings were then covered with fabric netting. With the help of his wife and daughter, Scharff hand cut and shaped over one million pieces of glass, bits of gold and silver, and numerous “jewels.” More than 500 colors were employed. Using the pattern beneath the netting, the mosaic pieces were meticulously glued, one by one, face down onto the fabric. The assembled sections were then transported to Cinderella Castle where a team of six craftsmen pressed them into wet cement that had been applied to the walls.

Installing the Tiles

Installing the Tiles

After the cement had dried, the fabric netting was carefully removed. Then a coating of special mortar was applied and worked into the gaps between the tiles to ensure that each tiny mosaic would stay in place and could withstand the touch of millions of hands. The entire process took two years to complete.

Castle Walkway and Murals

While taking the pictures for this blog, I spent a fair amount of time in the castle’s archway. This was necessary since I had to patiently wait for people to pass by in order to get unobstructed shots of the murals. I soon became aware at how quickly guests breeze through this area on their way to Fantasyland. Most people never gave these murals even a passing glance. And those that did, only slowed down slightly. I heard one mother say to her daughter, “Look honey. It’s Cinderella” as she tugged on the child’s hand so as not to slow down their forward momentum.

I totally understand the need to get to Dumbo and Peter Pan before long lines ensue. But I really hope that some of these hurried souls might return later in the day to study this beautiful masterpiece in a little more detail.

Let’s start with the first mural. Here we see Lady Tremaine reading the invitation to the upcoming ball. Standing next to her are her two, spoiled daughters Drizella and Anastasia. Mistreated Cinderella is nearby, slaving away. Also in the scene are Bruno the dog and Lucifer the cat.

Mural One

Mural One

The story-telling portion of the next mural is high above a doorway. Here we see Cinderella’s fairy godmother transforming her rag-dress into a beautiful gown. Her pumpkin coach can be seen in the background. It’s interesting to note, some of the characters depicted on these murals bear a resemblance to their movie counterpart — but the fairy godmother does not.

Mural Two

Mural Two

Next we find our heroine at the ball. The court is assembled in the foreground and at the top of the stairs we see Cinderella dashing off, leaving a glass slipper behind. A full moon, that looks very much like the bright sun, is shining in the sky.

Mural Three

Mural Three

The fourth mural brings us to that fateful moment when Cinderella tries on the slipper. Special care was given to the stepsister’s faces in this scene. Anastasia is colored red to signify anger and Drizella is green with envy. The footman’s face is that of Herb Ryman and the gentleman behind him bears the countenance of John Hench. Both men started their Disney careers as animators and went on to have significant input in the building of the New York World’s Fair, Disneyland, and Walt Disney World.

Mural Four

Mural Four

In the final scene we see Prince Charming taking Cinderella away from her misery to live happily ever after.

Mural Five

While studying the murals, also pay attention to the carvings atop each column. Cinderella’s mice and feathered friends are exquisitely carved into the stone.

Column Capital

And while you’re in the area, pay attention to some of the other nearby details. First, take a look at the large castle doors. Study the right one closely and you can see a door-within-a-door. This feature was used in medieval structures. When the large doors are closed, this smaller door allowed individuals access into the castle without opening up the entire fortress to possible danger.

Large Castle Doors

Just inside the castle is another doorway. Notice the detailed carvings and the fanciful metal pieces that fasten the door together. And a nearby lamp also displays intricate metalwork.

Small Castle Door

Castle Light Fixture

Behind the castle is a lovely courtyard with a beautiful fountain. Here we find a bronze statue of Cinderella and some of her creature friends. Cinderella’s fairy godmother can often be found in this area ready to pose for pictures.

Cinderella Fountain

Cinderella Fountain

Fairy Godmother

I really encourage you to stroll, not run, through the castle one day and take a look at the murals. This really won’t take you more than five minutes, but it’s well worth your time. Note, during the Castle Forecourt show, this section of the castle is closed to guests so plan accordingly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

26 Replies to “Cinderella Castle Mosaic Murals”

  1. I stop by these murals every time I visit the Magic Kingdom. I seem to find new features in them every time I visit.
    I am glad that the murals are still there, while Captain Nemo’s submarines are of the past. While at the Magic kingdom, I love to immerse myself in fantasy.
    I have seversal videos and many pictures if these murals. Yes, it is hard to photograph them without the passers by, especially since the makeup shop started.
    I noticed the checkered castle tower in the first mural, just above Cinderella. It empasizes where Cinderella started and where she was heading. It is a recurrent theme in several of the murals.
    I Thank you for the detailed description and the other interesting details. I will look at them differently the next time I park in front of these increduble murals!

  2. I confess I too am one of those people who used to just breeze by these murals, but after seeing your gorgeous photos and descriptions of them, I will definitely take more time to study them on my upcoming trip in April!

    Jack, I’m wondering if you know of any prints or reproductions that may exist of these for sale? They’d be lovely on a nursury wall (or any other kind of wall for that matter).

    Also, I believe King Stefan’s Banquet Hall used to be where Cinderella’s Royal Table now is. I would eat lunch there every year with my dad on our annual family vacations and vividly remember how all the servers dressed like the footmen in these murals, and how the dessert came in a glass slipper just like Cinderella’s.

    Thanks again for a wonderful, thoughtful post!

  3. I’m so thankful to have stumbled upon your blog. Our family is planning our first ever WDW trip in June; being armed with this great info before we go will, I hope, extend the magic for all of us. Thank you for sharing your unique insight and excellent writing.

  4. Awesome as always, Jack. It was really fun to come home from the World and see this bit of magic. These murals are exquisite, and I had no idea of their history. Thanks for your attention to the little details!

  5. Hi Jack,as Paris was our family’s first Disney experience we had the joy of viewing the beautiful stained glass windows that tell Sleeping Beauty’s story (all be it in French!!!). I feel that the public are much more “steered” into following this more closely even tho you have to go upstairs. The magnificent mosaics in Florida do unfortunately get bypassed by the sheer nature of their position and the general public’s need to experience every ride before the crowds become unbearable. Big up to the “stop and smell the roses” type vacation,the kind my hubby and I love to wallow in now we are empty nesters!! Mega thanx as always, Jack, for pointing out these delights.

  6. Thank you for the info in the murels. They’ve always been one of my most favorite things in the MK. I have often wondered just how many tiles/pieces of glass make up just one murel. I always find time to gaze on them because they are such an incredible work of art!

    Pam

  7. Hey Jack,

    Thanks for another interesting blog! I especially enjoyed reading about the precision and time that it took to get these works of art created and mounted. Something to think about next time I run my hand over the tiles. I must admit that I “run” through the castle to get to other attractions, but a big reason for that is because the murals aren’t in the best location for viewing…unless you want to be trampled. Next time I’m in Magic Kingdom, I’ll make an effort to study these unique creations.

    -Kirstin

  8. hey jack
    Once again great blog. I hate to admit it but I have not taken the time to look at all the murals inside the castle. I can’t believe how much work had to be done in order to have everything so accurate. I think all the workers did an amazing job. I certinally will take the time to get a good look at these murals more often next time I visit. I look forward to reading your next blog.

  9. Great little article. It’s actually “red with rage, green with envy” which is the expression that is suggested by the step sisters. Note also, that the Cinderella fountain was designed so that when you got down more to the height of the child, you would see the crown painted behind her head.

    I agree that too many rush by, but the real problem these days is that the Castle has been sectioned off by shows and fireworks going on through so much of the day that it’s difficult to be around when you can actually walk through the experience. Still, when seen it is really a serious as well as beautiful piece of art.

    Jeff Kober
    DisneyAtWork.com

  10. I never knew the history and the making of the murals. I’d stopped and looked at them but even so didn’t notice as many details as you pointed out. I really enjoyed imagining being there, studying the murals today especially since I am stuck inside with 6 inches of snow outside and more falling. Ah winter! How I long for the comparative warmth of Florida.

  11. Bonjour Jack, My hubby and I were there in April 2009 and we did take a good look at them but to see them again and to read your details of them I realize that I had forgotten so much. Can’t wait to see them again in Dec. although that is SOOOO far off! But your articles keep me in the WDW joy till then. Thx.

  12. Hi Jack,

    I haven’t posted for a while but I have been reading you.

    Now this castle (and the mosaic murals it contains) have been a great joy to visit over the years.

    They provide one of the most beautiful “transitional” experiences you can have in all the world as you journey from one themed land to the other.

    And your photos reflect their exquisite beauty as well.

    Kudos my man.

    Dave

  13. These murals have a special meaning to me and my wife. Last year was our two daughters first disneyworld trip. They had their makeover at the BBB right before our lunch at th Cinderella’s Royal Table. As we waited for our reservsations, our princesses posed for pics in front of these murals. On our 2nd trip this year, we will do exactly the same thing…

  14. Jack,
    Yet another great blog! Thanks! I love these murals and I agree it is a sin that people do not take more time to appreciate them. Then again, in part, its these “hidden” treasures that most hurry by, that “Makes” Disney for those that are in the know and stop to appreciate the intricate details. No matter how many times I visit WDW I am amazed of what I find that I missed years before.

    I do miss the Art of Disney store that is now inhabited by the BibidyBobidyBotique. I enjoyed walking through and seeing the collection of swords, shields, armor and other period pieces that was unique to this Art of Disney location.

    Also thanks for the pics of the Cinderella bronze statue/fountain. Its interesting to note that she is in her peasant dress in the statue. However, I read in one of the books, can’t remember which one at the moment 🙁 That the backdrop is positioned in such a way that if you kneel or bowl at the statue the optical illusion created is that the crown in the backdrop comes to rest on the top of Cinderella’s head. It foreshadows her rise to royalty. I tried it last time I visited and indeed it worked. You can easily see what I mean in the second pic you posted of the statue. Thanks!!!

    Rob

  15. Jack,
    On one of my recent visits to WDW I took a picture of each mural. It also took some time to get a picture of each as people were hurrying by. It was interesting however, that quite a few people stopped to see what I was taking a picture of and were off on their way. I have studied these murals often but never new many of the tid bits you mentioned. Thanks for the great, informative blog.

  16. I must have walked past these murals dozens of time, but I have never paid that much attention to them. You can bet next time i will take the time to check them out.Thanks again Jack for a wonderful article your attention to all the details is why I love yor column.

    thanks again,
    Angela

  17. Thank you so much for the great pictures of the beautiful murals, and the information on the wonderful details. Unfortunately, the stage was blocking the entrance when we were there on New Years Eve, and we could not walk through the castle. Hoping for another trip this year. 🙂

  18. I love the murals!! being an artist myself I can appreciate the countless number of hours of work that was put into these. They are beautifully done!! You managed to get some really great shots of them, well done Jack!! My shots are full of other people! haha
    Enjoyed your post Jack, thanks so much for sharing!!

  19. Some of us from another Disney fan site make it a point to “touch the slipper” as a way of remembering all of our fellow Disney fans that can’t be in Disney World at that time.

  20. Thanks for the informative post! On my first trip in September of 2008, for some reason this part wasn’t open the day we went, so I missed seeing these murals. Is this part still open during the current rehab of the castle? And where is the entrance? My mom and I are going to be there on February 9 and I would really like to see them this time! Thanks!

  21. Hi Jack,
    Being married to an art teacher means we stop at all art work where ever we might be so we have seen these beautiful murals and you are so right that people only take a glance at these art pieces.
    Thank you for another interesting blog because now I can tell my art teacher husband a little history behind the murals.
    Take care

  22. we will be walking through the castle tomorrow…i will be so much more aware of the intricate detail of these beautiful murals because of your lovely post. thank you. xo

  23. Nice work on the murals. I have question. Were the murals in the castle always of Cinderella? I seem to remember there being murals of Sleeping Beauty there at one piont and there being a King Stefan Dining hall. If so why did they change form Sleeping Beauty to Cinderella?
    Thanks,
    Greg

    Jack’s Answer:

    Yes. The murals at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World have always been of Cinderella. And to my knowledge, the only other similar murals are at Tokyo Disneyland and they too are of Cinderella.

    The castles in California, Paris, and Hong Kong are themed for Sleeping Beauty. The California and Paris versions have walk-thru attractions telling the story of Sleeping Beauty, but no tile murals.

  24. Jack, I am one of those moms that say “Look honey, its Cinderella!” as we dart our way to Fantasyland. I really appreciate your blog and will spend a little more time admiring this work of art when we go next month!
    My daughter especially likes the Cinderella fountain and the way the crown seems to “move” onto her head as you bow down slightly. That is the first thing she tells anyone who is going: “You have to see the Cinderella fountain!”. I was happy to see you captured that feature in your pictures.
    Thank you for your blogs. They truly bring a new appreciation to special features of Disney that I tend to overlook.

  25. Enjoyed reading this 🙂
    My sister and I stopped to look at the murals on our last trip to WDW in December 2009.

    While we were there, our Pal Mickey informed us that the ugly step-sisters are ‘green with envy’ and ‘red with anger’.. which I hadn’t thought about before!

    Emma 🙂

  26. Another great blog Jack! These murals are extra special to me because we passed through the castle, viewing them, just minutes before my fiance propopsed to me in front of the castle in August! I was delighted to see them as the subject of your newest blog. Thanks again for truly great information!