Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough: Rescued by Our Prince
Last time, we looked at an often-overlooked detail in Disneyland. Today, we look at an often-overlooked attraction: the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough. Located in the southwest corner of the castle courtyard is a door that most people walk right by, even though there’s a sign above it indicating what lies within. Step through that door and you enter one of the world’s most photographed structures—Sleeping Beauty Castle—and step into the story of Aurora herself, told through illuminated manuscripts and dioramas.
The story behind this attraction is fascinating (for example, did you know that the castle opened 4 years before the movie’s release, and the walkthrough opened 2 years before the movie’s release?), but for now we’re going to consider the story of Aurora, and hopefully see our story in that of the Sleeping Beauty. Even that we could go through in much more detail—it turns out the entire Sleeping Beauty story is a fantastic allegory for the gospel story—but for now we’ll just look at a summary.
In the Disney version of the fairy tale, Princess Aurora is promised to Prince Phillip in a marriage arranged by their fathers (kings, of course). At her christening, she is brought gifts by the people in the kingdom, most notably by three fairies—Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. The gifts bestowed are wondrous until the evil fairy Maleficent arrives and pronounces a curse: On her 16th birthday, Princess Aurora would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.
Fortunately, only two of the good fairies had given their gifts, and so the third one could minimize the damage caused by the curse. Instead of dying, Aurora would only sleep, until awakened by True Love’s Kiss.
After this, King Stefan ordered that all the spinning wheels in the kingdom be burned. Aurora was hidden by the fairies until her 16th birthday, being raised as a peasant girl they called Briar Rose. When her 16th birthday came, they returned her to the castle to reclaim her inheritance (why they didn’t wait until the next day I don’t know—it would have been a lot safer), and Aurora was tricked into pricking her finger anyway, and she feel into a sleep like death. When she did and the good fairies found out what had happened, they put a charm on the kingdom, causing everyone to sleep until the curse could be broken.
All seemed lost, but Prince Phillip came to her rescue! Captured by Maleficent, he escaped (wth some help), and battled her minions and demons, eventually facing the evil fairy herself, who had had transformed herself into a huge dragon. The foreign-born prince successfully slayed the dragon, though, and awakened the Sleeping Beauty to whom he had been betrothed with True Love’s Kiss.
With the curse lifted and the bride awakened, the kingdom rejoiced, and the prince and princess were wed.
A lovely story, but what does this have to do with us? I’m glad you asked. Consider the crucial elements of the story:
A princess is betrothed to a prince in an arranged marriage.The princess is cursed by evil, and is helpless to do anything to save herself.The prince arrives, battles the evil one (who ultimately takes the form of a dragon).The dragon is defeated.The princess is awakened by True Love’s Kiss from the prince. (True Love’s Kiss in fairy tales is the symbol of the removal of the curse and the influence of evil being eliminated.)The prince and princess are wed.
I listened recently to the June 6, 2011 episode of the Groupthink Rescue podcast. In it, Dan Franklin talks about the story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17. He said that we tend to misread the lesson of that story. We think it’s about David defeating Goliath with God’s help, but David doesn’t really enter the story until about 1/3 of the way through. It starts with Israel being afraid of this giant they are helpless to defeat, and David—the unexpected and unlikely savior—rescuing them and achieving the victory they could not. David wins the victory, but then all of Israel shares in that victory. it’s not a story of “I can do it with God’s help,” it’s a story of, “There is an enemy I can’t defeat, but Jesus Christ can defeat it and then I can share in His victory.”
Now does Sleeping Beauty sound more familiar?
- The Church is the Bride of Christ. We have been promised to Him, and it was an arranged marriage. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…” (Eph. 1:4).
- We live under a curse, though. Thanks to the sin of Adam and Eve, and our own sinful nature, we live under a curse, and we are helpless to do anything to save ourselves.
- We were dead in our sins, but God sent His Son to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. (Col. 2:13-15, Eph 2:4-5)
- Jesus is victorious over the enemy (Rev. 12:9 – “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”) through the Resurrection.
- The Prince of Peace frees His bride from the curse through the Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Rev. 22:3 – “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
The story of Sleeping Beauty is a graphic depiction of our helplessness before enemies that we cannot defeat—especially the greatest enemy: death—and of the One who gained the victory for us, to bring us to Himself as His bride.