Disney is hashing out details of castle stay

Cinderella fans must wait a while longer before learning details of what a night in her castle might be like — and then wait until January for a chance to win such a visit.

Walt Disney World officials say they haven't worked out many details about the part of their big, new, yearlong promotion that is piquing imaginations: a chance to spend the night in the royal chamber at Cinderella Castle.

"Oh my gosh," said Brandee Foxworthy of Longwood, whose daughter, Ella, was named for the fairy-tale princess. "My first thought was, in what way could we increase our chances?"

That's yet to be answered, along with: How will winners be picked? What will the suite be like? What will visitors do after the park closes?

Craig Dezern, a marketing vice president, said those details still are being worked out. Even the apartment is only a shell right now, with planners discussing how to turn it into a royal chamber.

For that reason, it won't be ready for occupancy until January, even though Disney's "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion begins Oct. 1.

The single-floor apartment is about 10 stories up, where the main structure of the castle ends and the spires climb on their own.

Some say Walt Disney ordered it as a family suite, but he died in 1966 and castle construction didn't begin until 1969. Some say Walt's brother, Roy Disney, planned it, but he died in 1971, weeks after the Magic Kingdom opened.

The room was never finished.

Jerry Aldrich, a Disney official from 1971 to '98 before leaving to start Amusement Industry Consulting in Orlando, has been in it several times. He said it wasn't even drywalled.

Until now, Disney found less than royal uses for the apartment. At times the space was used as a radio room, a telephone switchboard operators' room and a greenroom, where entertainers could change or relax.

Like many Disney and Cinderella fans, the Foxworthys can't wait.

"We would be over the moon to spend time in the castle and have special pictures and memories of that," Brandee Foxworthy said.


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