The world of Disney is magical and wonderful, it’s full of beautiful castles, interesting characters and fun adventures to be had. But it’s also very much based in reality. We can’t all be Princes and Princesses and there’s no real monsters and witches, but the messages and morals in these movies are very much applicable in real life. And you know what? Some of the locations in your favorite Disney movies are also inspired by real places in the world that you can actually go and visit. Take a look at these 12 Disney travel destinations start planning your next vacation today.
1. Sleeping Beauty – Neuschwanstein castle, Bavaria, Germany
Remember the castle in Sleeping Beauty? Or should we say the castle that now appears as the Disney emblem in every movie. It’s actually modeled after a real castle in Bavaria, Germany called Neuschwanstein. This castle was built in 1892 by King Ludwig the second and it’s as magnificent and fairy tale like in real life as it is in Disney movies.
2. Mulan – Forbidden city, China
The Emperor’s Palace in Mulan is also closely modeled after a real place in China called The Forbidden City. It used to be a place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties lived, and it’s named like that because no one was allowed in or out without the emperor’s permission. These days it’s a popular tourist spot in Beijing, China, it serves as a historical museum of ancient artifacts and art.
3. Tangled – Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The Castle in Tangled, and the whole idea of Kingdom of Korona as a place was inspired by Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. This beautiful castle and the nearby buildings are really situated on a little rock island in France. However in reality, it’s not always an island. It’s connected to mainland by a bridge, but occasionally when the water level rises because of the tides, it gets cut off from the rest of the city and becomes a real island.
4.UP – Angel falls, Venezuela
If you love the movie Up as much as I do, you’ll remember that the place Carl Fredricksen wanted to go to was called Paradise Falls. Well, you might be happy to know it’s a place you can visit too, except it’s called Angel Falls and it’s located in Venezuela. It’s actually the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall.
5. Aladdin – Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin is actually meant to look a lot like the Taj Mahal in India. The real building is made of white marble and it’s actually a tomb of Emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It’s a monument to her beauty and Shah’s love for his wife.
6. Little Mermaid – Chateau de Chillon, lake Geneva, Switzerland
The Little Mermaid’s Prince Eric lived in a beautiful castle overlooking the sea, well that castle isn’t entirely made up. It’s a real castle in Switzerland called Chateau De Chillon. The castle itself has been there for centuries and has serves as a castle, a post, a fortress, and many other things. In fact, it’s so ancient that it’s hard to determine the age of some of the oldest parts of the castle, but the first written mention of it dates back to 1005. However, it’s not situated on the seaside, but instead it’s built on the shores of Lake Geneva.
7. Beauty and the Beast – Château de Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France
The Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast was inspired by Chateau De Chambord in Loir-Et-Cher, France. It was built in 1547 by King Francis the first and was intended to be used as a hunting lodge. Pretty fancy for a hunting lodge don’t you think? But “after all, miss, this is France”.
8. Brave – Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK
The Royal Castle DunBroch that Merida tends to run away from on the daily basis to go and have fun in the forest was inspired by Eilean Donan, a castle in Scotland that dates back to the 6th century. It used to be a monastery back then and in the 13th century it became a castle.
9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire – Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia
We’ve all hear of the sunken city of Atlantis. It’s a myth of course. It’s a fictional island off the coast of Greece, mentioned in Plato’s works. But the Disney movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire is very much real and the city there isn’t modeled after any Greek city, in fact it’s actually inspired by the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
10. Snow White – Alcázar de Segovia, Segovia, Spain
Remember what the Evil Queen’s castle in Snow White looked like? Yeah it resembles Spain’s Alcazar de Segovia pretty closely. So if you’re feeling a bit evil or want to feel like a villain in a movie, you can always go and visit it. This castle actually dates back to the 12th century and it used to be a college, a military fort, an arsenal and these days it’s a museum.
11. Lilo and Stitch – Kauai, Hawaii
Lilo and Stitch is based in Hawaii, that’s hardly a mystery for anyone. But that place where all the aliens crashed on Earth – that’s closely modeled after the island of Kauai in Hawaii. You’ve got to admit the similarity is uncanny.
12. Finding Nemo – Sydney Harbour, Australia
We all remember the address from Finding Nemo. 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney is burned into our brain forever. But unfortunately it doesn’t exist, it’s completely fictional. However, the Sydney Harbor depicted in the movie is very much real and looks EXACTLY the same in real life. It’s kind of amazing how well they replicated it in the movie.