Personal Experiences

My Day Inside an Enchanted Castle

This week’s blog post has nothing to do with books or writing, but I went to an event this week and I don’t often get to do things like that so I wanted to write a blog post about it and share the experience.

Monday was Family Day in Ontario, which meant it was a holiday and my friends and I all took the day off to attend the Beauty and the Beast exhibit at Casa Loma in Toronto. If you haven’t heard of Casa Loma, I highly suggest doing a bit of research on it; it’s a truly incredible place with a lot of history. How often do you see magnificent Gothic revival castles in the middle of a modern metropolis? I’ve been enchanted by Casa Loma since I was a little girl and I was beyond excited to be indulging in my childhood fascination again as an adult. In my humble opinion, it was the perfect setting to host an exhibit for a film that takes place in an enchanted castle.

The exhibit had plenty of goodies for the kids. There was a bouncy castle in the stables and a craft room where children could make their own enchanted roses. If I had children, I imagine they would have had a fabulous time, but my friends and I were more interested in seeing the costumes worn by the actors during filming. This exhibit was the only Beauty and the Beast event in Canada that featured real props and costumes from the set of the new film and we didn’t intend to squander that rare opportunity.

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Belle’s “provincial town” dress, worn by Emma Watson

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed that the iconic gold ballgown wasn’t part of the exhibit, but I did get to take an up-close look at Belle’s blue dress worn by Emma Watson during the first half of the film. I really like it. It resembles the dress in the original Disney cartoon but more detailed and I think more accurate to what a peasant woman would have worn in 18th century France.

Frankly, they did a phenomenal job with all the costumes. I could almost see Gaston (played by Luke Evans) and Le Fou (played by Josh Gad) marching around in their respective outfits. Out of all the costumes I saw at the exhibit, I think Plumette’s (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was the most impressive, closely followed by Garderobe’s (played by Audra McDonald). Plumette’s dress was a beautiful display of delicate white feathers adorning the neckline and sleeves, very fitting for a woman who was turned into a featherduster. It almost reminds me of a wedding dress (perhaps a hint that she gets married to Lumiere (played by Ewan McGregor)? I’ll have to go see the film in March to find out).

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Plumette’s dress in her human form, worn by Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Garderobe’s dress has a clever design on the front of the skirts to resemble the pattern on the doors of the wardrobe in her enchanted form. Garderobe’s dress is also huge! There must be one heck of a wire hoop mesh underneath the skirts. Again, very fitting for a woman turned into a massive wardrobe.

While none of the servants’ costumes struck me as being historically accurate (I’m no historian, but I have a hard time believing that servants would dress so finely), they were stunning and each one was carefully crafted to suit that character’s enchanted form. Since Beauty and the Beast lends itself more to fantasy than historical documentary, I can easily forgive this and embrace the suspension of disbelief.

Of course, no tour through an enchanted castle would have been complete without a glimpse at the enchanted rose. It was protected within a glass case in the Conservatory and the staff were kind enough to take our pictures with the rose for free. It was every bit as lovely as it looks in the trailers.

There was more to see than just the costumes and the rose. The staff of Casa Loma went all out for this big event. They had ballroom dancers performing in the Oak Room and an aerial show with a professional acrobat in the Great Hall which I got to witness from the balcony on the second floor. I didn’t get pictures of these. I was worried I’d drop my phone from the balcony and I also wanted to just be in the moment and enjoy some of the day with my own eyes rather than through a camera lens. There were projections of the enchanted servants and falling rose petals on the walls and ceilings of many of the rooms and the soundtrack played loud and clear everywhere we went. I will say this about the songs I heard there; you will not be disappointed when you hear them in the film. They are beautifully redone. I think I love Emma Thomson‘s version of “Beauty and the Beast” more than Angela Lansbury‘s in the original film! Emma Watson and Luke Evans both have goosebumps-worthy voices as well

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My friends and I with the enchanted rose. I’m on the far right, with Marilyn in the centre and Joanna on the left

I could go on and on about the detail and extravagant architecture of Casa Loma itself, but then this blog post would stretch on indefinitely. Instead, I’ll just include some extra photos I took of the gorgeous castle in a slideshow at the end of this post for you to enjoy at your leisure. I wish I could have gotten better shots and taken the time to gather more pictures, but the exhibit was a very popular event and the castle was packed with people. It was impossible to stand in one place for longer than a few seconds because you’d be pushed along with the crowd. I plan to go back on a quiet day when there are no events happening and take my time photographing every room.

In closing, the exhibit was every bit as enchanting as I hoped it would be and Casa Loma is just as magical as I remember it from my childhood. I’m so glad I got to spend Family Day there with two of my closest friends. I’m sure it’s a day I’ll look back on fondly for years to come and I’m even more excited to go see the new film in March than I was before (as if that were even possible).

 

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