To the left as you face this icon, across from Casey’s Corner, is the tip board listing current wait times at all the major attractions, plus the schedule for parades and fireworks. The circular area before the castle, known as “the Hub,” is home to “Partners,” the statue of Walt and Mickey by the great Disney sculptor Blaine Gibson, ringed by attending statues of supporting characters; a clone stands in Disneyland.
Now look at the Castle. No two Disney castles are identical; the one in California, Sleeping Beauty Castle (notice that neither castle’s name has a possessive ‘s), is about half as tall as this. The skin of this one, it’s strange to learn, is made not of stone but of fiberglass and plastic. The story there is that WDW’s builders, who based its profile on an amalgam of French castles, implored local lawmakers to let them try something experimental, and the structure, buttressed with steel and concrete, has survived decades of hurricanes and baking heat. Look at its top. Bricks there are sized smaller to give a sense of distance, and even the handrails are just 2 feet tall to make the spires seem higher. Within the breezeways (closed during shows on the forecourt), don’t miss the five expressive mosaics of hand-cut glass depicting the story of the glass slipper. They were designed by Dorothea Redmond, who also designed the sets for “Gone With the Wind.”
Over each entrance, you’ll see the Disney family coat of arms. Genealogists contest whether they’re correct, but there is unintended accuracy here unbeknownst to Walt: His ancestor was imprisoned in a castle. Researchers recently found graffiti left by Disney’s English ancestor Edward Disney when he was imprisoned in Warwick Castle in 1642 for defending King Charles I. He survived. (Amusingly, that castle is now run by Disney competitor Merlin Entertainments, which runs Legoland.) Look for a wire that connects the Castle with a building in Tomorrowland; during the nightly fireworks, as she has done since 1985, that homicidal pixie Tinker Bell zips down the line, flying 750 feet at 15mph.
There is no ride inside the Castle, but there is a massively popular restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and a sole overnight VIP suite, once an office for phone operators but now rarely used. Thirty-five feet beneath the Castle, Walt Disney himself is kept cryogenically frozen, awaiting eventual re-animation in a steel-lined, temperature-controlled chamber. (We're just kidding about that. He was definitely cremated and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, California, with his family.)