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