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10 Disney Locations Inspired By Real-Life

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Many of us have enjoyed Disney movies growing up. From “Snow White” all the way to “Zootopia” Disney animation studios have been keeping us entertained for nearly a century. What many people don’t know is, some of your favorite locations in these flicks are inspired by actual places! From ancient cities, to fairy tale castles, these are 10 real life locations that inspired Disney movies.

If you have ever seen a Disney princess movie, then you know a castle is usually the focal point of the movie. There are many different castles depicted in Disney movies, and almost all of them are inspired from real life structures. There is one Castle in particular that Walt Disney himself was so enamored with, that it had to serve as inspiration for one of his earlier Disney Princess films. While on a European vacation, the Disney family made a stop in Bavaria, Germany and noticed the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle. Walt and his wife visited the castle, while Disneyland was being constructed in the 1950’s and when Walt Disney came back from vacation; he soon went to work on Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Neushwanstein Castle also was still inspiring animators when Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was released in 1959.

Not all locations in Disney movies are inspired by castles; there are plenty of them in the films. Other more historical spots like Machu Pichu in Peru, or Angel Falls in Venezuela were depicted in Disney films. One of the most recognizable places comes from the Movie Mulan. The story of Mulan is actually based on an ancient Chinese poem named, “The Ballad of Mulan”. Though Mulan’s story takes place about a thousand years before the Forbidden City was constructed, it acted as inspiration to the animators. In the film the Emperor’s palace is nearly identical the Forbidden City, located in Beijing, China, and build in the 15th century. Though it may not be historically correct, the Forbidden City provides a beautiful backdrop for this ancient story come to life!

With history that goes back thousands of years, this beautiful city in France has another interesting fact to add to its history books. The city of Alsace, France served as inspiration for Belle’s new hometown in “Beauty in the Beast”. What many people may miss if they don’t have an eye for historic hints is a movie Easter egg in one of the movie’s scenes. After Gaston’s failed marriage attempt to Belle, there is a bottle of wine at the Bimbettes table that has a white stripe on the bottleneck, and a circle in the center. This bottle resembles the same bottle that was used for historic Alsace wine. Next time you watch this movie, keep your eyes peeled for this clue!

In the 1930’s the city of Los Angeles was going through, what some historians call, a “Fairytale craze”. In 1931, an architect build a series of 8 cottages that he named “The Story Book Cottages”. The 8 homes are located in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles, and many people believe they were inspired by the Disney movie “Snow White”, but this may not be the case. “Snow White” was Disney’s first animated feature film release in 1937. This is 6 years after the original cottages were built. One of the animators was actually living in Los Feliz while working on “Snow White” and may have gotten his inspiration for the 7 dwarfs cottage from these fairytale craze era homes.