Disneyland is Getting Neat and Pretty for the Opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Above: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, still walled off from the public but brilliantly visible. The photo was taken earlier this week, showing Kim Irvine’s bold new color scheme. Photo by Jim Denney.

by Jim Denney
author of Walt’s Disneyland

0SleepingBeautyCastle-2013-Tuxyso-CC BY-SA 3
Sleeping Beauty Castle in 2013, a more pastel version of Walt’s Castle than Kim Irvine’s bold new color scheme. Photo by Tuxyso, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

If you’ve been on the seasonal “Nightmare Before Christmas” makeover of the Haunted Mansion, you’ve met Kim Irvine. During the holidays, hers is the face and voice of Madame Leota (during the rest of the year, you’ll see the original Madame Leota, portrayed by Kim Irvine’s late mother, Leota Toombs).

Kim Irvine is art director for Walt Disney Imagineering. She’s in charge of making sure that any changes made to Disneyland are in keeping with the look and feel of Walt’s original Disneyland. She’s overseeing the sprucing up of Walt’s California theme park in preparation for the grand opening of the new fourteen-acre land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. A big part of her task involves creating more open spaces and wider paths to absorb the crowds that will be attracted by Galaxy’s Edge.

Sleeping Beauty Castle under its canvas shroud while the makeover was underway, April 30, 2019. Photo by Jim Denney.

The centerpiece of Disneyland’s park-wide facelift is Sleeping Beauty Castle. Kim Irvine’s goal was to make the castle even more bold, beautiful, and vibrantly colorful. “When people come to Disneyland,” she told Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times, “they want it to be more fantastical. They want us to do things and use things that you wouldn’t see when you’re walking down the main street of your town. This has got to be sweeter and more fantasy. So I keep that in mind. I’m not afraid of color at all.”

Though the Castle was still walled off when I visited the Park earlier this week, the tarp has come off and the brilliant new colors are on full display. The next time you visit, take a few moments to drink in this new vision of Walt’s original Castle. Prepare to be dazzled.

Some additional details added Sunday, May 26, 2019, thanks to Peggy Matthews Rose:

The original color scheme of Sleeping Beauty Castle was designed by Disney Imagineer Herb Ryman, who created the first map of Disneyland (see “Walt, a Man Named Grenade, and the First Map of Disneyland”). Ryman also created the first concept design of Sleeping Beauty Castle in 1954.

0SleepingBeautyCastle-2019-0520-XXXCUIn an interview for the Disney Parks Blog, Kim Irvine explained the thinking behind the bold new color scheme for the Castle: “We used an ages-old painting technique called atmospheric perspective to visually heighten the castle. We warmed the pink hues on the lower towers and gradually added blue to lighten the colors toward the top. . . . We focused the golden accents and pixie dust around the entrance to the castle, as though it has been magically enchanted.”

The Castle was enhanced with bold new banners and pennants, fresh landscaping, and new paint and lighting in the Castle walk-through. A fir tree was planted to the left of the Castle with a plaque dedicating the tree in Herb Ryman’s honor.

On your next visit to Disneyland, take a few moments to admire the new colors and to reflect on Walt’s achievement, and the people like Herb Ryman and Kim Irvine who have helped make Disney magic happen. 


ABOUT JIM DENNEY AND WALT’S DISNEYLAND: Jim Denney has more than 120 books to his credit, and has co-written books with sports stars and Hollywood celebrities. His previous book on Walt Disney, How To Be Like Walt (co-written with Orlando Magic founder Pat Williams) has remained in print for a dozen years, and has garnered 4.8 out of 5 stars in 185 customer reviews on Amazon.com. Walt’s Disneyland: It’s Still There If You Know Where to Look by Jim Denney (Anaheim, CA: Writing in Overdrive Books, May 2017) is available at Amazon.com; Paperback $15.99; Ebook $5.99.


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Walt’s Disneyland: It’s Still There If You Know Where to Look is NOW AVAILABLE for just:

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After you read it, please do me a favor and write a customer review of the book. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to write to me. My contact information is in the front of the book.



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