The beautiful worlds created by Disney seem to exist only in our imagination, but some of them were inspired by real destinations.
The beautiful worlds and scenery found in the Disney cartoons they seem to be the product of the imagination of the artists who produced these animations. The good news is that many of these places iconic landmarks, enchanted kingdoms, villages and sights colors depicted in our favorite cartoons took their inspiration from real-life places.
In some cases, places have been reproduced exactly like the originals. In others, they are just vague traces that served as a basis for creating the fictional universes. Several Disney classics were also based on fairy tale books, which explains certain references to real-life castles.
Can you imagine getting to know the magical universes of drawings that enchanted generations?
Wonderful destinations that inspired Disney movies
Finding Nemo – Sydney, Australia
In Finding Nemo, the friendly clown fish ends up in an aquarium at dentist P. Shermann's office, located at 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney. The address unfortunately doesn't exist, but Sydney is one of the most famous metropolises in the world. In Australia there is also a great barrier reef, a true mosaic of colors and marine life that also served as the inspiration for the film.
Aladdin – Taj Mahal, India
The fictional Sultan's Palace Agrabah, where Princess Jasmine also lives, was clearly inspired by the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Although many people think of it as a palace, the Taj Mahal is actually a magnificent tomb that Emperor Shah Jahan began building in 1632 for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Little Mermaid – Chillon Castle, Geneva – Switzerland
Prince Eric's castle in "The Little Mermaid" looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, it was inspired by the Chateau De Chillon on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. For almost four centuries, Chillon was the residence of the Counts of Savoy. It is the most visited historic building in the country and its position on the shores of Lake Geneva makes for a truly perfect setting.
Moana – Polynesian Islands
The Moana animation was largely based on the culture and mythology of the Polynesian people, who originally settled in diverse Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea. To faithfully portray the settings and cultural traditions, the film's directors visited many of these locations. Just like in the animation, the paradisiacal settings are real and it's not hard to find residents with lots of tattoos, as well as the fun character Maui.
Beauty and the Beast – Colmar, France
The picturesque village where Belle lives with her father in “Beauty and the Beast” was inspired by Alsace, a region in northwest France that was heavily influenced by Germany. Those who watched the film will immediately identify the architecture of the houses, alleys and squares that are very reminiscent of the scene in which Bela sings presenting the residents and the daily life of her city.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Paris, France
The cathedral in which Quasimodo lives in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was not inspired, but it is Notre Dame itself, in Paris. The iconic and imposing building is one of the best-known examples of Gothic architecture in the world. The mysterious gargoyles, statues in the shape of animals, won nice versions in the Disney adaptation. The interior details of Notre Dame shown in the drawing are impressive!
The Lion King – Kenya, Africa
Before its theatrical release, production teams for “The Lion King” spent time in Serengeti Park, located in East Africa, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Currently, the park is one of the few places in the world that still maintains virtually untouched nature, just like the one we see in the fun scenes of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa.
Brave – Highlands, Scotland
Princess Merida and her family's Royal Castle was inspired by Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland. The imposing building is located on a small islet in Loch Duich, west of the Scottish Highlands. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country and the castle has appeared in several films. The scenery around Eilean Donan is truly magical!
Hercules – Greece
Although the animation story is not faithful to Greek mythology, many of the places visited by the demigod Hercules in the Disney version pay homage to the classical architecture of Greece. Phill's island was inspired by the island of Rhodes, off the Turkish coast, considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Several scenes show classical and royal Greek structures such as the ancient theater of Epidaurus, the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
The Emperor's New Wave – Machu Picchu, Peru
The village of the character Pacha, in the animation “The Emperor's New Wave”, was inspired by none other than Machu Picchu, in Cusco, Peru. Known as the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu is recognized as one of the wonders of the world today. The archaeological site is 2,450 meters above sea level and was populated between the years 1450 to 1540.
Up! – Mount Roraima, Venezuela and Brazil
The “Waterfall Paradise” that appears in the movie Up! exists and is in South America. The stage of the adventures of Mr. Fredricksen, Russell and Dug is Mount Roraima, located in the Guiana Plateau, which is on the border of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana. Its highest point, at 2810 meters high, is in Venezuela, in the district of Bolivar. It is on Mount Roraima that the highest waterfall in the world is located, the Santo Angel, with 979 meters of height. Who wouldn't want to fly balloons to this amazing place?
Mulan – Forbidden City, Beijing, China
The Emperor's house in Mulan was inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Although it is now open to tourists, it was once home to the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The vast palace was considered forbidden because it was the emperor's residence and no one could enter or leave without his permission. The Great Walls of China also appear at the beginning of the animation.
Cinderella – Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
The famous Cinderella Castle was designed based on Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. The gigantic building was conceived by Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1892 as a personal retreat and tribute to Richard Wagner, his favorite composer. If you're thinking you've seen a replica of this castle somewhere, you're right: it also inspired Cinderella's castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
Tangled – Normandy, France
The beautiful kingdom of Rapunzel was inspired by the historic Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. The site was one of the first places in the world to obtain the title of World Heritage Site by Unesco. The hill is currently an important space for Catholic pilgrimage due to the sanctuary dedicated to the Archangel São Miguel. The resemblance is really impressive!
Frozen – Norway
The frozen kingdom of Arandelle, from the animation Frozen, was inspired by several locations in Norway. The colorful wooden facades of the charming houses in the city of Bergen served as the basis for composing the architecture of the fictional kingdom of Disney animation. The chapel featured in the film was inspired by St. Olaf, in the town of Balestrand – is the name Olaf just a coincidence?
Rio – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Despite not being a Disney movie – it was produced by 20th Century Fox – the animation Rio is one of the ones that best portray the beauties of our country. The blue macaw Blu lives in the Tijuca Forest National Park, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. In the film, in addition to the forest, several tourist attractions of the wonderful city are reproduced, such as Christ the Redeemer.
Lilo and Stitch – Hawaii, United States
You might have suspected that the Lilo and Stitch scenes are set in Hawaii, but did you know that it was the island of Kauai, specifically, that served as the biggest inspiration for the design? Kauai is the least commercially developed of the Hawaiian Islands, but it offers waterfalls, scenic walks and more than 60 idyllic beaches. Stitch came from another planet, but he chose one of the most beautiful places in the world to live, right?
And do you dream of getting to know some of the wonderful destinations that inspired Disney movies? Comment here saying which one!
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