Our favorite Disney Movies always present us with a beautiful fairy tale to make us captivated in that magical world and forget the real world for some moment. But they are not all imaginary; the stories are rooted in the real world. Even Disney’s most iconic locations and structures have their real-world counterparts. The locations, natural or artificial have become the source of inspiration for the animators to create the magic on screen. The dream castles, forests, waterfalls, mountains, islands, cities, buildings, streets and many from this real world are depicted so beautifully that those stunning locations have become popular destinations.
The Disney creators moved to UK, US, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Norway, Peru, China, India, Hawaii, and that definitely helped them with their imagination. The nature and human-made wonders of the world have helped to create magnificent landscapes and settings in films that made us awestruck. Here you can see the 25 real-world locations that inspired the Disney movies to a great extent. Now you can experience the thrill by traveling to these enchanting locations. So, what are you waiting for? Plan for your Disney reality tour now.
25 SLEEPING BEAUTY - NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, BAVARIA, GERMANY
In sleeping beauty, the royal castle you saw was inspired by the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle located in Bavaria, Germany. It is the most famous castle in Germany and was built by the Ludwig II of Bavaria in the year 1892 as the retreat and personal tribute to his favorite composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig II was famous as the Swan King who was a very enthusiastic patron of art. He built some beautiful constructions throughout Bavaria during his time.
The beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle later got adapted as the Disney Castle and shown at the beginning of every movie made by Disney. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
24 MULAN - FORBIDDEN CITY, CHINA
The Forbidden City is the most remarkable landmark in Beijing, China. In Mulan, the design of the Emperor’s city palace and the gate was inspired by the Forbidden City. Mulan is a story of a girl who was brave and helped to defeat the Huns' leader.
Once in this place lived the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was called ‘forbidden’ as no one could enter or leave the place without the king’s permission. Now, this is open to tourists as the museum of ancient art and artifacts. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
23 TANGLED - MONT SAINT - MICHEL, NORMANDY, FRANCE
The concept of the Kingdom of Corona in Tangled is based on the beautiful island and French commune of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Rapunzel’s parent’s castle was modeled after this fantastic commune.
This unique island is cut off from France periodically for tidal waters. It is now a defensible location and ideal fortified cloister. The French artist, Laurent Ben-Mimoun got the inspiration of a Renaissance castle from Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy where Rapunzel lived and let down her hair. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
22 UP - ANGEL FALLS, VENEZUELA
Carl Fredricksen's destination Paradise Falls in the movie "Up" was based on the Angel Falls, Venezuela which is falling from the mountain Auyantipui, one of the Tepui (Table-topped) mountains in Venezuela. It is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall of 979m (3,212ft).
Pete Docter, the director of "UP," visited Angel Falls and the tepuis of Venezuela with the team of Pixar creatives to get the inspiration for the lost world of Paradise Falls for the elderly hero Carl Fredricksen in the film. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
21 THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE - MACHU PICCHU, CUSCO, PERU
The mystical Inca ruins, Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru served as the inspiration for Pacha’s village In The Emperor’s New Groove. This mysterious Incan site is 2,430m (7,970ft) above sea level up in the mountains of Peru is said to be the place where the Incan emperor Pachacuti resided. After the Spanish conquest, this site was abandoned by Inca.
The name of the emperor in The Emperor's New Groove is also Kuzco, and he plans to build a theme park called Kuzcotopia in Pacha’s village. Now Machu Pichu has become a popular Peruvian tourist attraction. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
20 ALADDIN - TAJ MAHAL, AGRA, INDIA
The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The idea behind the Sultan’s palace in Aladdin is the marvelous monument Taj Mahal of Agra, India. It is actually a tomb of Emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal and he started its construction in 1632. The Sultan of the Agrabah in Aladdin is also a widower.
This iconic tomb is made of white marble and surrounded by lush green gardens. Agrabah—a city of "mystery and enchantment" in Aladdin is more like Jordan in the Middle East, but the palace has the resemblance to the Taj Mahal. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
19 LITTLE MERMAID - CHATEAU DE CHILLON, LAKE GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
The seaside castle of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid is inspired by the Chateau De Chillion on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It is the chateau belonged to the Roman Empire and used to guard the road through the Alps mountain.
Since the Bronze Age, this has been in use as a residence for counts, as a fortress, a prison, and arsenal. This beautiful castle being on the shore of the lake gives you the perfect set of the magical tale of Ariel and her prince. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
18 WRECK-IT RALPH - GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL, NEW YORK CITY, USA
Grand Central Terminal located in New York City is the inspiration of Game Central Station in the 2012 Disney animated movie Wreck-It Ralph. The interior of Game Central Station in Wreck-It Ralph not only looked similar to this massive underground subway station but also in the nomenclature of the Grand Central Terminal.
The terminal was destroyed, but in the year 1913, it was rebuilt in the current design. Even after the threats, this iconic station is now actively in use. (Source: Boredpanda.com)
17 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - CHATEAU DE CHAMBORD, LOIR-ET-CHER, FRANCE
In the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, the inspiration behind the Beast’s castle was Chateau De Chambord in Loir-Et-Cher, France. King Francis-I built this castle in the style of French Renaissance architecture in the year 1547 to use this as a “hunting lodge” where he spent only 72 nights of his entire life.
As said by many, the peculiar coffered vaulted ceiling of the building and the forest of chimneys and spires make the castle a mysterious place. It is also supposed to be the royal home of a cursed Prince. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Justfunfacts.com)
16 FROZEN - ST. OLAF'S CHURCH, BALESTRAND, NORWAY
There is a chapel in the Disney movie Frozen wherein the scene of coronation, Elsa was crowned Queen of Arendelle. That enchanting chapel was modeled after the St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway of the 19th century.
Margaret Green, a pious English woman, used to live nearby in the mountains with a man named Knut Kvikne whom she loved. Margaret started building this church to practice her Anglican faith, but she died before it was complete. There are also other inspirations that come from Norway, and that is the adorable talking snowman in the film-Olaf!! (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
15 BRAVE - EILEAN DONAN CASTLE, SCOTLAND, UK
In the Disney movie Brave, The Royal Castle DunBroch, from where the rebellious red-headed princess Merida runs away has a striking resemblance to the 13th-century castle of the Scotland Eilean Donan. Eilean Donan means the Island of Donnan in Gaelic.
It's said that earlier in the 6th or 7th century, it was a monastery and later became a castle where Clan Mackenzie took shelter. The Pixar team visited the glens and highlands of Scotland to get the inspiration for the Royal Scottish girl’s story. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
14 CARS - U-DROP INN, SHAMROCK, TEXAS
Ramone’s House of Body Art in the 2006 Pixar film Cars is based on U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. It is a rest stop. The Art Deco design by J.C.Berry can be spotted easily in this Pixar movie.
The shape of the Ramone’s building is same and large spire can also be seen. Now it is a national art-deco architectural monument and the charging station of a Tesla electric vehicle. You can also look at these things in the Cars land at Disneyland. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
13 ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE - ANGKOR WAT, ANGKOR, CAMBODIA
In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the city of Atlantis, was inspired by the Angkor Wat temple located in Angkor, Cambodia. Angkor Wat is considered the world’s largest religious monument.
The story of Atlantis: The Lost Empire is loosely based on the legendary sunken Greek island, the existence of which is in question. But the visual inspirations based off Angkor Wat of Cambodia is good enough for us, whatever the story may be. Initially, it was the Hindu temple, but in the later period, it transformed into a Buddhist temple. (Source: Boredpanda.com)
12 PINOCCHIO - COLLODI VILLAGE, ITALY
The Collodi is the birthplace of Pinocchio, the adorable and famous children’s character. Pinocchio’s village is inspired by the Collodi Village, Italy. This beautiful village may be called the fairytale village and is located in central Tuscany between Florence and Pisa. You can have the perfect Tuscan experience in this beautiful village.
Here you can also find the Park of Pinocchio which is must visit place in Italy. In the park, you can see bronze sculptures set among beautiful gardens, mazes, and fountains. The place as a whole will transport you back to the Renaissance, that is how lovely it feels. (Source: Ranker.com, Thatadventurer.co.uk)
11 SNOW WHITE - ALCAZAR DE SEGOVIA, SEGOVIA, SPAIN
Alcázar de Segovia of Segovia, Spain is the inspiration behind the Evil Queen’s castle in the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made by Disney. This castle of Spain looks beautiful with its grand turrets and white facade and also seems mysterious as the snowy forests surround it.
Alcázar de Segovia was used as a military fort, residence to Spanish royalty, college, prison, artillery since the 12th century and now, as a museum. The lovers of both castles and Disney can no doubt lose themselves in this kind of real adventurous set. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
10 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL, PARIS, FRANCE
In the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the cathedral is modeled after Notre Dame Cathedral located in the heart of Paris in France. This gorgeous gothic cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture from all over the world.
The Disney animator capitalizes on this beautiful cathedral along with the amazing buttresses, stained glass, and gargoyles of the cathedral. Thematically Hunchback is a darker Disney film, but it showcases the building and the surroundings beautifully. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Cntraveler.com)
9 THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG - LOUISIANA BAYOUS, USA
In the Disney movie The Princess And The Frog, The bayous of New Orleans got inspired by the real-life Louisiana bayous of USA. In reality, Louisiana is characterized by the marshes, swampy lakes, and slow-flowing rivers. It is reflected in the bayous of New Orleans in Princess And The Frog beautifully.
The swamp creatures like alligators, catfish, and turtles can be spotted in bayous of Louisiana, and the idea of creepy tales about voracious supernatural swamp beasts was derived from the real bayous. (Source: Boredpanda.com, Ranker.com)
8 MOANA - SAMOA ISLAND
Moana is a story of an adventurous teenage girl who goes through the exciting events to save the Polynesian Island where she resides along with its people. It is the 56th animated movie of Disney. This story is also about a fictional island of Motunui 2000 years before.
The filmmaker wanted to be sure of the truthness of the visual aspects and narrative details of the movie in resemblance to South Pacific. Directors of the film John Musker and Ron Clements conducted thorough research on the islands like Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa and Samoa became the main inspiration. (Source: Cntraveler.com)
7 LILO AND STITCH - KAUAI, HAWAII
The story of the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch is about Lilo, a Hawaiian girl and Stitch an odd stray “dog” adopted by her from the local pound. Stitch, the puppy is actually an alien experiment that brings other aliens to stay in the garden island.
The art and the graphics are definitely Hawaiian, but the main inspiration is the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The island of Kauai is portrayed as the place in the film where dozens of aliens crash-landed on Earth. (Source: Ocregister.com, Ranker.com, List25.com)
6 FINDING NEMO - SYDNEY HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA
The story of the Disney movie Finding Nemo starts in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. It revolves around the clownfish Marlin, his son Nemo, and his blue tang friend Dory and how they reach all the way to Sydney Harbor in Australia.
The submerged scenes in the underwater of the Great Barrier Reef and the scenic skyline of Sydney seemed more believable than the real one. The Sydney Harbour has been depicted in detail and the replica made from it was very impressive. One thing though found to be fictitious, was the address-42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. (Source: Matadornetwork.com, Cntraveler.com)
5 THE LION KING - AFRICA'S SERENGETI PLAINS, TANZANIA
The Lion King movie mostly got the inspiration from Africa's Serengeti plains of Tanzania. In the Masai language, the name Serengeti literally means “endless plains.” Since the release of The Lion King movie in 1994, the safari in the Serengeti has become the major tourist attraction to witness the real Lion King.
Serengeti is famous for its massive migration. More than millions of wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, and eland pass through the Serengeti in a never-ending search for food and water. (Source: Matadornetwork.com, Heleninwonderlust.co.uk)
4 WINNIE THE POOH - ASHDOWN FOREST, SOUTHERN ENGLAND
The famous hundred acre wood which is the home of Pooh in the Disney movie “Winnie the Pooh” is modeled after the real-life Five Hundred Acre Wood in southern England's Ashdown Forest.
This corner of south-east England was explored and inspired the film. There are several locations in the Pooh stories that match with the actual places in and around Ashdown Forest. The outstanding natural beauty of Ashdown Forest is replicated to near perfection in the film. (Source:Matadornetwork.com, List25.com, Telegraph.co.uk)
3 RATATOUILLE - THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
The Disney film Ratatouille takes place in Paris but the kitchen in the movie was modeled after the French Laundry, Thomas Keller's Napa Valley restaurant. The French laundry consistently ranked among the best in the world. The team of the Pixar film had the tough job of eating in restaurants like La Tour d’Argent, Le Procope, Helene Darroze, Chez Michel, and Taillevent.
But lastly, they were inspired by The French Laundry and spent several multiple hours, multiple course meals enjoying themselves and "researching" in order to make this film. (Source: Ohmy.disney.com, Matadornetwork.com)
2 PETER PAN - BLOOMSBURY, LONDON, ENGLAND
The Disney movie Peter Pan has always been a favorite movie for all. It is surprising to know that Walt Disney once starred as Peter Pan in a play. The memories of how Peter, John, Wendy, and Michael flew off to Neverland, and their fights with Captain Hook will be cherished forever.
The Darling family lives in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury in London, England. The house was in a corner, and it was a Federal-style Edwardian-era townhouse with a nursery, though the exact location was never stated. (Source: Ohmy.disney.com, Ranker.com)
1 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - ALSACE, FRANCE
Alsace is a picturesque region in North-West France. The small village square in The Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” was based on the Alsace that fills one’s heart with joy.
It has a blend of two cultures, French and German, which is evident in the names of various places and mainly in the beautiful pastoral architecture of the region. The filmmakers of Beauty and the Beast visited the villages and towns of Alsace in France to create the little town of Belle’s home. (Source: Boredpanda.com)