Honestly, who isn’t a big fan of Disney movies? From classic Disney princess films like Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast to more modern Pixar films like Moana and Lilo and Stitch, there seems to be a Disney movie for everyone! It’s so easy to get caught up in the stories and just go along for the ride. Plus, the amazing soundtracks are so catchy! Let’s all be honest here, how many of us will occasionally jam out to the Frozen soundtrack in our car? We’ve all been there!
Whether we're watching an older Disney cartoon or a newer feature, they all have one thing in common: they make us wish that we could jump into the story and experience it for ourselves. Has anyone ever wished that they could somehow transport themselves to the locations in the films and see them for real? Well, we have some fantastic news for them: many famous settings in Disney films were actually based off real locations! It’s amazing—Here are 30 vacation destinations that are straight out of a Disney movie.
30 Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany (Sleeping Beauty)
According to This Is Insider, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is not just a fictional destination—it was based off a real castle that you can easily visit! Sleeping Beauty’s castle was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany. There are many companies that offer tours here, so it is easy to go with a licensed guide who will tell you all about the history, stories, and legends associated with the castle. Want to hear something adorable? Lots of couples get engaged here!
29 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France (The Hunchback Of Notre Dame)
The film The Hunchback of Notre Dame takes place in Paris, and of course, many of the famous landmarks featured in the film are still around for you to visit today! According to Mental Floss, you can easily visit the church of Notre Dame if you come to Paris. This is a very popular destination for people visiting Paris, and it is located right near the center of the city. Definitely put the church of Notre Dame on your itinerary!
28 Chateau de Chambord, France (Beauty And The Beast)
Much of the film Beauty and the Beast takes place in a large, spooky castle with a touch of dark glamour. Could that be castle be based on a real place? Yup! According to European Traveler, the castle that animators designed for Beauty and the Beast was based off Chateau de Chambord, the largest chateau in France’s Loire Valley. This castle was designed to be extremely luxurious for French royalty—it’s no wonder that Disney felt so inspired by it!
27 Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii (Lilo And Stitch)
If you’ve seen Lilo and Stitch, you already know that the film is supposed to take place in Hawaii, but if you’re a big fan of the movie, you may want to know the specific island that inspired Disney’s team. According to Go Hawaii, the little town of Hanapepe on the gorgeous island of Kauai was the inspiration for the film’s “set design.” This town is laid back, with the perfect small town feel and surfer vibe for Lilo and Stitch.
26 Bergen, Norway (Frozen)
The tourism sector is booming in Scandinavia, with more and more people flocking to this chilly yet welcoming region of the world every year. What’s bringing them in? Well, some of them want to see the locations that inspired the smash hit film Frozen. According to The Guardian, the adorable city of Bergen, Norway was a major inspiration for the village where Anna and Elsa lived in Frozen, and this has been a major draw for tourists over the past few years!
25 The Forbidden City, China (Mulan)
If you were a big fan of the movie Mulan as a kid (and honestly, this movie is great as an adult, too), you may have wondered what it would be like to visit China one day. According to Pop Sugar, the design of the emperor’s home in Mulan was based off an imperial palace in Beijing, China called “The Forbidden City.” While this area was restricted except for royalty in the past, anyone can enter for a visit today!
24 Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England (Robin Hood)
Did you know that Sherwood Forest was not just a location invented for the movie Robin Hood? Nope, Sherwood Forest is actually a completely real place in England that you can visit! According to Visit Sherwood, this forest was originally a hunting reserve for royal families. It was eventually made famous because of its association with the legend of Robin Hood. Today, you can head over and go for a stroll, and you’ll find statues of Robin Hood and his “merry men.”
23 Collodi Village, Tuscany, Italy (Pinocchio)
You may already know that the story of Pinocchio takes place in Italy, but did you know that it was based off a completely real town? According to Trip Advisor, Disney animators drew inspiration from the small town of Collodi, located in the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy. Today, you can go there and visit the “Pinocchio Park,” which features statues of all the characters from the story, and there are many beautiful natural landscapes in this area as well.
22 Sydney, Australia (Finding Nemo)
Do you remember that famous address from the popular Pixar film Finding Nemo: 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney, Australia? While that address is fictional, you can totally visit Sydney! According to Lonely Planet, Sydney is known for its beaches, of course, but it is also one of Australia’s largest cities. There is plenty to do here for every traveler, from hanging out in the harbor to see the Opera House to relaxing by the water with no plans for the day.
21 Mont Saint-Michel, France (Tangled)
Tangled is one of the most beautiful animated films out there. And the good news is that you can visit several of the incredible locations that inspired the film! According to Mental Floss, this isolated castle in Mont Saint Michel, France was the inspiration for the castle where Rapunzel was stolen from her parents. This castle looks like it was truly taken straight from a fairy tale! The island where it is located has been inhabited as far back as 966!
20 Taj Mahal, Agra, India (Aladdin)
The animation in the popular Disney film Aladdin is simply stunning—the rich colors and incredible scenery make you wish that you could simply fly on a magic carpet to visit Agrabah yourself! According to CN Traveler, the Taj Mahal, actually located in Agra, India, was the inspiration for the design of the Sultan’s palace in Aladdin. In real life, the Taj Mahal is not a palace—it is actually a tomb—but it certainly does look fit for a king.
19 Ashdown Forest, England (Winnie The Pooh)
As a child, you may have wished that you could visit the Hundred Acre Woods to spend a day with Winnie the Pooh and all of his animal friends. And with the release of the new movie Christopher Robin, you might still be wondering if those woods are real! Not quite, but according to Telegraph, the Hundred Acre Woods was based off a real place: Ashdown Forest in England. And yes, you can go visit and reminisce on your childhood memories.
18 Chateau de Chillon, Switzerland (The Little Mermaid)
No, the Little Mermaid’s undersea grotto is not a place that you can really visit—but have you ever daydreamed about walking along the seashore beside Prince Eric’s castle? In that case, we’ve got some good news for you. According to CN Traveler, Prince Eric’s castle was based off a real castle on the shores of Lake Geneva called Chateau de Chillon. This lakeside castle is known as one of the most beautiful castles in Switzerland, and many tourists visit every year.
17 New Orleans, Louisiana (The Princess And The Frog)
In the Disney animated film Princess and the Frog, the city of New Orleans features so prominently and gives so much flair to the movie that it’s practically its own character. The film would just not be the same if it was set somewhere else. According to Lonely Planet, there is something for every traveler in New Orleans. Want to visit a jazz club, eat delicious Cajun and Creole food, or get your fortune told? Come on down—it’s all here!
16 Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands (Brave)
If you’ve seen the movie Brave, you already know that the story takes place in Scotland. But which part of Scotland truly inspired the animation for the film? According to The Globe and Mail, Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish highlands was a major source of inspiration for the animators who worked on the film. This castle is located in the Scottish Highlands, a beautiful region of the country with towering mountains, ancient ruins, and gorgeous landscapes you can’t find elsewhere.
15 Historic Jamestown, Virginia (Pocahontas)
If you live on the east coast of the United States, the destination that served as a huge inspiration for the film Pocahontas might just be a road trip away! According to Virtual Jamestown, the real life Pocahontas actually lived near the historic settlement of Jamestown. This area has always been associated with her life and her story. If you want to learn more about her real tribe and the events that occurred here, you can easily go for a visit today.
14 Cusco, Peru (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Cusco, Peru is the gateway to Machu Picchu! It was also the inspiration for the setting of the hilarious Disney film The Emperor’s New Groove. According to This Is Insider, the hills of Pacha’s villages are actually animated to look like the peaks of Machu Picchu! Pretty cool, right? Of course, the real Machu Picchu looks quite different than Pacha’s village, but if you ever do get the chance to visit, it is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
13 Festival of Lights, Chiang Mai, Thailand (Tangled)
Was Tangled really inspired by a place in Thailand? Well, sort of. Let’s get into the context. Do you remember the scene in Tangled where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider visit the Festival of Lights? According to Asia Highlights, the annual Festival of Lights in Chiang Mai, Thailand (also known as the Lantern Festival) served as the inspiration for the Festival of Lights that takes place in the film! This festival always takes place on a full moon day in November.
12 Route 66, USA (Cars)
The Cars films became much more successful than people originally anticipated, and maybe that’s because they touch on that American love of the open road. It’s as American as baseball and apple pie. Did you know that you can still take a long road trip down Route 66? According to Mental Floss, lots of the locations in the Cars films are actually based off real places, like motels and restaurants, that you can stop at along Route 66! How cool!
11 Marrakech, Morocco (Aladdin)
So, if you’ve already added the Taj Mahal to your bucket list after learning that it inspired the Sultan’s palace in Aladdin, you may also want to consider the city of Marrakech in Morocco. According to Hotel Planner, there are even several “riads” (gorgeous accommodations, usually with pools) in Marrakech that are named after the movie—imagine that! The aesthetics of the film were heavily inspired by places in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Jordan and Morocco.
10 London, England (Peter Pan)
The scene in the beginning of the film Peter Pan when Peter takes Wendy and her siblings on their first flight over London is one of the most magical moments in the whole movie. According to the magazine Time Out London, fans of the film should absolutely consider visiting this city. You can view many landmarks that appear in the film, such as the famous clocktower Big Ben. There is also a statue of Peter Pan located in Kensington Gardens.
9 Oaxaca, Mexico (Coco)
The recent Disney film Coco was a huge hit—it shows fans a whole new region of the world that has not been explored in Disney films yet! According to Slate, the filmmakers specifically based the design of the film off of towns in a region of Mexico called Oaxaca. Oaxaca is a charming area, known for its colorful buildings and fun local traditions. Plus, the food is out of this world1 If you’re a fan of Coco, consider a vacation here.
8 Oxford, England (Alice In Wonderland)
Clearly, Disney drew a lot of inspiration from locations around England, and the film Alice in Wonderland fits with that trend. According to The New York Times, the character Alice was actually based off a young girl named Alex Liddell, whose father was friendly with Lewis Carroll. Today, there are cute little testaments to Alice and her fictional tales all over the city. Visiting Christ Church, the largest college in Oxford, will give you a glimpse into the locations behind the story.
7 Angel Falls, Venezuela (Up)
Visiting Angel Falls might be tough to pull off, but if you ever get the opportunity to do so at some point in the future, you will get the chance to see one of the world famous natural wonders that inspired a scene in Up! According to Pop Sugar, the director of Up was inspired to create the film after hiking to the top of Venezuela’s Angel Falls. He included this beautiful waterfall in a scene in the film as a homage.
6 Hotel De Glace, Quebec, Canada (Frozen)
So, you already know that you can visit the city of Bergen, Norway if you want to see the place that inspired Anna and Elsa’s village in the film Frozen. But does Elsa’s ice palace really exist in real life? Well, sort of! According to Trip Advisor, Hotel de Glace is a temporary ice hotel constructed in Quebec every winter. Elsa’s palace in the film was based off the design of this hotel. And yes, you can sleep there! Pretty cool, right?
5 Segovia, Spain (Snow White)
Yes, Snow White spent part of her story living in the cabin with the dwarves, but was her castle based off a real place? Like many other castles in Disney films, the answer is yes—and it’s beautiful! According to Exploring Castles, Snow White’s castle is based off the Alcazar of Segovia, located in the city of Segovia, Spain. This castle truly looks like it was pulled straight from a fairy tale—maybe that’s why Disney put it in one!
4 Alsace, France (Beauty And The Beast)
So, now you know that the castle featured in Beauty and the Beast was inspired by a real chateau in France. According to CN Traveler, Belle’s village was also based off real villages in the Alsace region of France! The quaint villages in this region are so beautiful. Staying in one for a few nights will make you feel like you have truly stepped back in time. You can escape the hustle and bustle of the city life and just relax.
3 Samoa, South Pacific Ocean (Moana)
Moana is one of the most beautiful animated films ever created—seriously, when you’re watching it, it’s truly impossible to take your eyes off the screen. According to BuzzFeed, all of the locations in the film were based off the islands of Samoa. Samoa is technically an American territory, but these islands in the South Pacific have their own distinct culture. The Samoan islands are also incredibly beautiful! Traveling there can be pricey, but it sure is worth it.
2 Rhodes, Greece (Hercules)
The film Hercules features many references to ancient Greek and Roman mythology. So, where should you go if you want to learn about it for yourself and find out what inspired the film! The island of Rhodes in Greece! According to CN Traveler, Phil’s Island in the film is based off Rhodes—you can even see the ancient wonder of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes, featured in the background of some shots! Who doesn’t want to a Greek vacation?
1 Louisiana Bayou (Princess And The Frog)
As we mentioned earlier, the film The Princess and the Frog heavily features the city of New Orleans, but the characters also make their way out into the Louisiana Bayou. According to Lonely Planet, it is easy to take a tour around the bayou, and who knows what you might see out in this mysterious swamp land? There are many myths and legends surrounding the bayou, and there is also plenty of wildlife lurking in the swamp, like the alligators!
References: thisisinsider.com, mentalfloss.com, european-traveler.com, gohawaii.com, theguardian.com, popsugar.com, visitsherwood.com, tripadvisor.com, lonelyplanet.com, cntraveler.com, telegraph.co.uk, theglobeandmail.com, virtualjamestown.com, asiahighlights.com, hotelplanner.com, timeout.com, slate.com, thenewyorktimes.com, exploring-castles.com, buzzfeed.com