Skip to main content

Disney Uses BIM to Create the Infamous Enchanted Storybook Castle

Disney uses BIM to create the infamous Enchanted Storybook Castle

Shanghai’s Disney resort, which is due to open in spring next year, is the home of the largest of Disney’s castles. It has been over three years since Disney revealed that the Enchanted Storybook Castle would be the focal point of Shanghai Disneyland. Last month saw the topping of the attraction with a golden finial, which now marks the tallest point of the castle.

The Enchanted Storybook Castle has been created utilising BIM technology and Digital Immersive Showroom (DISH). The development was presented with a 2014 AIA TAP (Technology in Architectural Practice) Award for Delivery Process Innovation. Numerous design methods were used throughout the project because of its innovative and complex interior. The design included a central spiral staircase, a boat-ride, which includes the maintenance facility, a children’s salon and many other features.

Photo of Fantasyland Area
[i] Photo of Fantasyland Area

With the success of the castle hinging on the artistic designs, Imagineers (Disney designers and engineers!) used DISH (Digital Immersive Showroom), which allows them to create a virtual environment which can be explored.  This is done by displaying design ideas onto the walls of the showroom, allowing the imagineers to ‘walk’ around their design. This method ensured technical designs and engineers could meet the expectations of the original artistic vision. This method of ‘trying out’ construction and design ideas allows designers to view their work in three dimensions, as well as allowing the construction parties to assess the feasibility of the works.  Industry is already pushing the boundaries of this method of collaboration and it will soon be possible to engage with live holograms.

The design of the castle involved approximately 142 people which included architects, engineers, and sub-contractors who all worked together from different locations around the world.

To distribute all the information from different areas, a BIM information diagram was made to show who was responsible for which area and to get their information sent out. 


The Enchanted Castle in the Shanghai resort is the largest of all Disney's castles and the design on it involved approximately 142 people.


BIM was used for 3D modelling and the coordination of each of the design aspects used within the project. To make this all possible, open BIM was deployed where different teams used different software and were still able to upload and interact with the BIM information diagram.  This method of cloud collaboration meant that model decisions could be shared easily, allowing teams to discuss feasibility, cost and time frames; reducing the risk of changes happening further into the construction phase. With the BIM, an accurate representation of the building design could be found and was accessible to all relevant teams from various construction phases.  It was then the responsibility of each respective team to populate the model with their elements. It was then possible for alternations to architectural details or engineering instances to be viewable to other teams for conflict or issue.  Once building design was complete, teams were able to add “intelligent, parametric content inside the model” [ii] which included elements such as “mock terrain and architectural ornamentation” [ii] to make the castle look as authentic as the films. 

The Enchanted Storybook Castle is a huge project. It has so many different aspects to the design that need to be taken into consideration. Using BIM throughout the design process has helped the team work together and organise all of the different aspects into a simple 3D model. The design was achieved on time and the building of the castle started on the due date last year.  Construction is due to be completed this year, with the park scheduled to open in 2016.


Diagram of The Enchanted Disney Castle
[iii] Diagram of The Enchanted Disney Castle