Walt Disney is famous for many things.  Mickey Mouse, obviously, not to mention the Scottish Disney Terrier “it disnae chase rats, disnae come when it’s called and disnae do a thing I tell it,”), but for many of the older generation his name is synonymous with his earlier animated films.  Snow White, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty and, of course, Cinderella.

Most of these are based on fairy tales, but some also take inspiration from real places.  And, believe it or not, there is a north-east connection with Cinderella, in that the castle in the film is, or so it is claimed, based on Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire.  To help you make up your own mind, here are photos of the two castles…

Disney Castle        Craigievar Castle?                                  Cinderella’s Castle?
(pic credit Spmartin 15)                            (pic credit Nick Bramhall)

Craigievar Castle was built in 1576 and the work was finally completed around 1626.   It was painted pink by Sir John Forbes (well, he probably instructed a painter to do it), who had inherited the castle in 1824.

In a Disneyesque twist, Craigievar is home to a ghost story, involving the spirit of a man from clan Gordon, who was allegedly pushed from a window.

Remaining an authentic part to Aberdeenshire all of these years, it’s no surprise it was voted number one on the top ten lesser-known destinations in the UK in 2021.

However, it must also be said that it’s not alone in claiming a connection with Cinderella.  According to Wikipedia, there is a string of other castles which are also believed to have been the inspiration for Disney, including (and it’s a long list!): the Alcázar of Segovia, Schwerin Castle, Hohenzollern Castle, Château d’Ussé, Fontainbleau, Versails, not to mention the various châteaux at Chenonceau, Pierrefonds, Chambord, Chaumont and Neuschwanstein.  However, we’re going to stick with Craigievar.  As the photos above show, it’s (almost) identical.  The only problem with this theory is that if the Ugly Sisters spoke Doric, Disney might have had to employ subtitles to help the audience understand what was going on…

Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU