Everyone has seen their fair share of Disney movies. And yes, many of those beloved, nostalgic childhood stories are completely fictional, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive them to the best of our ability. The glass slippers and fairy godmothers may be fake, but who said the castle wasn’t? Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of real-life locations that inspired Disney movies that you can make your next travel destination.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Creators and animators of the classic movie, Sleeping Beauty, took inspiration from this stunning Castle in order to best portray the princess’ castle onscreen. The Castle, in Bavaria, Germany, stands above the tree line on a mountain, with views of Bavaria surrounding it. Some people even argue that the Disney classic, Cinderella, also has a castle that looks awfully similar to the Neuschwanstein Castle, and therefore took inspiration from it too.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
You might’ve recognized the Sultan’s palace from Aladdin when you first watched it because it looks oddly similar to the famous Taj Mahal in India. Where the movie of our childhoods actually takes place is Agrabah, a fictional city, but this is the closest you can get to the gorgeous palace right in the middle of the city. The Architecture for the Taj Mahal is Mughal Architecture, a mix of Indian, Persian and Islamic architectural styles, which made it perfect to steal inspiration from when creating a fictional place that resembled all of these styles. You could check off a Disney movie and one of the seven wonders of the world with this one.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Moving on to a relatively newer movie, here’s a little bit of princess Tiana’s itinerary from The Princess and the Frog. Whether it’s the French Quarter in New Orleans or the Bayou, Tiana saw it all, and so can you. Explore local restaurants in the city for some gumbo or beignets, just like the movie, celebrate Mardi Gras or take a swamp tour through the Bayou.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Adventure is out there! Paradise Falls from the heartwarming Pixar film, Up, is actually based off of the real waterfall, Angel Falls, in Venezuela. There are no talking dogs roaming around near Angel Falls, but it does have a lot of other really amazing things going for it. The waterfall is the tallest waterfall in the world, reaching up to 3,230 feet, and has an uninterrupted drop of 2,647 feet. Can you say, “wow!”
Notre Dame, Paris, France
This one may seem pretty obvious, but let’s not forget about The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This movie takes place at the Gothic, Catholic cathedral in Paris, so of course, it had to make the list. You can go both inside the cathedral, or you can climb up some stairs to the top and see a view. With gargoyles covering the outside of the church, it’s just like the movie – these just don’t talk.
After watching Moana, how could you not want to take a relaxing trip to a blue watered oasis? While the Island of Te Fiti in the movie is fictional, it draws lots of inspiration from the islands of Polynesia, which consists of many islands such as Hawaii, Tahiti, and Samoa. All of the locations in Moana clearly resemble beautiful islands such as Bora Bora, which make great getaways for ocean lovers.
Forbidden City, Beijing, China
The Forbidden City in Beijing, China is what the animators of Mulan used to illustrate and bring to life the Emperor’s palace. The Forbidden City has 980 buildings, more than 8,000 rooms and the similarities between the actual city and the famous Disney tale’s palace are uncanny.
Unfortunately, you can’t take a trip to Neverland, but that’s not the only place where Peter and Wendy venture to in Peter Pan. We’re talking about that classic scene where the kids are flying over London at night and land on the hand of the clock on Big Ben. You can’t exactly do that on a trip to London, but if you want that bird’s eye view, you can always ride the London Eye.
It’s about time you discovered these magical places. Get exploring today!