Beauty and the Beast Castle Debuts at Tokyo Disneyland

Beauty and the Beast Castle at Tokyo Disneyland is part of the largest expansion in the park’s history. In fact, it is the park’s second castle, a Disney first.

Tokyo Disneyland

As Disney celebrates the 29th anniversary of the release of the feature cartoon, Beauty and the Beast, a castle inspired a chateau in France opens at Tokyo Disneyland. It is part of the biggest expansion of the park since it opened in 1983.

Le Chateau de Chambord in France

Photo Credit: Dorian Mongel.

Le Chateau de Chambord is an actual chateau. And it is situated in Central France, 177 kilometers (110 miles)  from Paris.

But not only is it the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, a.k.a. the Valley of Kings. In addition, it is one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world.

And many consider the design of the structure the epitome of Renaissance architecture.

Photo Credit: Antonin-Carvalho.

So what, exactly, is the difference between a castle and a chateau?

While castles and chateaux share many similarities, there is one important distinction.

A castle is a large structure, and it is always heavily fortified. In fact, a castle has many defensive features. And originally, castles were usually inhabited by noblemen or kings.

While a chateau could also have defensive features, not all chateaux do.

So the term is more inclusive. In fact, a chateau – in English, at least – could also serve as a synonym for a country house or manor.

However, that does not mean that chateaux cannot be extravagant.

In fact, they can be downright breathtaking. And Le Chateau de Chambord is a prime example.

Photo Credit: Mr. Xerty.

The chateau has a mixture of  French medieval and classical Renaissance architectural features.

And it was designed by Italian Architect Domenico da Cortona (ca 1465 – ca 1549).

Most importantly, it took practically three decades to complete!

In fact, construction began in 1519. And it ended 28 years later in 1547.

Domain of Chambord

Photo Credit: Dimitri-Houtteman,

But there is more to Chambord than the chateau itself. In addition, the Domain of Chambord comprises a village, farms, and a large wooded area.

Most significantly, the 5,440 hectar domain is completely enclosed within a wall.

Not only is it the largest enclosed forest in Europe. In fact, the Domain of Chambord is as large as the city of Paris!

So it was no coincidence that the chateau served as inspiration for the castle depicted in the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast.

Le Chateau de Chambord is now open to the public. In fact, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

The chateau is maintained by the French Ministry of Culture.

Beauty and the Beast – the Fairy Tale

On 29 September 1991, Beauty and the Beast premiered at the New York Film Festival. And it was an instant success.

Soon French heroine Belle was enchanting audiences around the world with her quest for adventure in the great wide somewhere. Along the way, she found true love in the heart of a so-called beast, who was actually a prince.

The film was loosely based on  Beauty and the Beast, a fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. And it was published in 1740.

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont rewrote and shortened the story, publishing an abridged version of it in 1756.

Finally, Andrew Lang included the story is his Fairy Book series, which was published  in 1889.

While there are many variations of the story across Europe, it is the Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont version of it that the Disney tale is based on.

In fact, Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films released a live action film version of Beauty and the Beast in 2017.

The musical comedy starred Emma Watson as Beauty and Dan Stevens as the Beast-cum-Prince.

The movie was directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos.

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Disneyland Castles – a Brief History

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Photo Credit: Brian McGowan

Each one of the Disney theme parks has a castle. And Tokyo Disneyland is no exception.

  • Anaheim – Sleeping Beauty Castle sits at the heart of the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California. And it pay tribute to Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty. The park opened in 1955.
  • Orlando – Cinderella Castle sits at the heart of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. And it pays tribute to Cinderella. The park opened in 1971.
  • Tokyo – Cinderella Castle sits at the heart of Tokyo Disneyland in Tokyo, Japan. And it pays tribute to Cinderella. The park opened in 1983.
  • Paris – Sleeping Beauty Castle also sits at the heart of Paris Disneyland in Paris, France. The park opened in 1992.
  • Hong Kong – Sleeping Beauty Castle at Hong Kong Disneyland has been re-imaged into the Castle of Magical Dreams. And it officially launches in late 2020. The park opened in 2005.
  • Shanghai – Enchanted Storybook Castle sits at the heart of Shanghai Disneyland in Shanghai, China. The largest of all Disney castles, it pays tribute to several Disney princesses. And they include Anna, Belle, Cinderella, Elsa, Merida, Rapunzel,  Snow White, and Tiana. The park opened in 2016.

Beauty and the Beast Castle

Le Chateau de Chambord in France. Photo Credit: Dorian Mongel.

Rising above Fantasyland, Beauty and the Beast Castle is part of the biggest expansion of Tokyo Disneyland since the park opened in 1983.

The large-scale development has taken three years to complete. And it covers an area of approximately 47,000 square meters.

While Tokyo Disneyland has seven themed lands, the development spans fully three of them:

  • Fantasyland 
  • Tomorrowland
  • Toontown

In addition to the castle are a host of other new attractions. And among them are walk-throughs, shops, and restaurants. Will there be any new rides?

Traditionally, each Disney theme park has had only one castle. And that is exactly why J.K. Rowling left Disney and went to Universal Studios to build a Harry Potter attraction.

So it is a break with tradition to built a second castle at Tokyo Disneyland. Should they have called it a chateau instead?

In fact, the design of Beauty and the Beast Castle is based on a chateau in France, Le Chateau de Chambord.

Is it a coincidence that the opening date was set for 28 September 2020? In case you’ve forgotten, that is 29 years and one day since Beauty and the Beast premiered in New York City.

Apparently, Disney has spent “a bloody fortune” on this project. And they have made doubles of everything.

Could there be secret plans to construct a second Beauty and the Beast Castle elsewhere? If so, where?

And might its opening coincide with the celebrated cartoon’s 30th anniversary?

Perhaps the intended message is that multiple kingdoms can coexist together.

Stayed tuned for more details!

Health and Safety Measure

Photo Credit: Romeo A.

The Coronavirus is ever-present in our lives, so fortunately Disney has found a way to make the entire experience as “enchanting” as possible.

For example Tokyo Disney Resort has implemented measures in accordance with the “Amusement Park and Theme Park New Coronavirus Infection Containment Guidelines,” focusing on the health and safety of our guests and cast members.

To avoid congestion, some of the new experiences have been modified and entry will be limited on a temporary basis.

A new entry request system via the Tokyo Disney Resort App will be used for assigned time reservations at the new attractions and greeting experience.

In addition, entry to the new restaurants and shops will be limited to guests who have made advance reservations.

Nobody manages their guests as well as Disney does. So it is always a good idea to pack an extra set of patience and double up on your cooperation.

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