19 Magical Real-Life Locations That Were the Inspiration of Disney Films

19 Magical Real-Life Locations That Were the Inspiration of Disney Films


You can find some very iconic settings in Disney movies. Queen Elsa’s ice castle in Frozen was breathtaking and so was Carl’s Angel Falls destination in the movie Up. You can actually visit these Disney films worlds that captured your imagination if you have a passport and a load of cash to splurge.

Know where these are and fly to these magical destinations that have inspired Disney and charmed your heart.

To start off, here are everyone’s favorite sisters:

Elsa’s kingdom Arendelle can be seen in the movie Frozen. Right before Elsa’s coronation, a picturesque scene of the town is portrayed.

The Real Place: Aurland, Norway

In the county of Sognog Fjordane lies the municipality of Aurland. Located on the south side of the Sognefjorden in the district of Sogn, it’s administrative center is Aurlandsvangen village. Bakka Flåm, Undredal, and Gudvangen are other villages.




The Disney films Location: Arendelle Castle

Until Elsa’s coronation, she was locked up, so no one would find out about her powers. We don’t see much of Arendelle Castle in the movie.

The Real Place: Akershus Slott, Oslo, Norway

The medieval fortress of Akershus Slott was built to protect Norway’s capital Oslo. It has been previously used as a prison. The exact date of construction is unknown though it is believed to date back to the late 1290s.

The Norwegian Ministry of Defense and Defense Staff Norway have a joint headquarters in the eastern wing of Akershus Fortress.

The Disney Location: Elsa’s Ice Castle

When her powers are exposed, Elsa runs off into the mountains to hide. There she makes herself a stunning ice castle on the North Mountain.

The Real Place: Hotel de Glace

Quebec City creates the Hotel de Glace three months of the year. It uses 10,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice. Visitors are given warm blankets and snow jackets.

This place is so famous, it’s hard to get a reservation. This hotel has been in operation since 2001.


Now, here is everyone’s favorite thief:

The Disney Location: Sultan’s Palace

It’s hard to forget the scenes of Aladdin. The inspiration of the Sultan’s Palace comes from a romantic, if somewhat, morbid story.





The Real Place: The Taj Mahal

Mughal Emperor Sha Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. Found in Agra, India, this is a building that represents love with romantic colors and white marble.

It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Shah Jahan gave the world a beautiful building and eternal memorial for his wife.

The Disney Location: Agrabah

The city of Agrabah is said to be city of mystery and enchantment.

The Real Place: The Round City of Ancient Baghdad

In 762, the construction began on Baghdad. It was build to circle around the main palace and main mosque. It had four main streets going in and out of the city.

It was called the City of Peace.


And, here is our favorite bookworm, Belle:

The Disney Location: Belle’s Village

In Beauty and the Beast, Belle strolls through a quaint little town, while reading a book. She avoided Gaston while doing this as well as the carts, and all other townspeople.





The Real Place: Alsace, France

Alsace, France, is the basis of this Belle’s town. This lovely town is an important part of the European Union. It is also the location for headquarters of some international organizations.

The Disney Location: The Beast’s castle

Belle’s father Maurice and his horse get lost in the woods while traveling to a fair. He discovers the Beast’s castle and becomes a prisoner. When Belle finds out her father was detained, she shows up at the castle and asks to take his place as prisoner.

The Real Place: The Royal Château de Chambord

The Château de Chambord is a great example of French Renaissance architecture. This building was never completed. It can be found in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France.


Who could forget our fave Disney tomboy:

The Disney Location: DunBroch Castle

Brave‘s Merida was a headstrong heroine. The setting for her story is in Scotland.




The Real Place: Dunnotar Castle

DunBroch was inspired by Dunnotar Castle in Scotland. This medieval fortress now lies in ruins, but it was the place where the Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden from Oliver Cromwell and his army.


There’s also our charming race car:

The Disney films Location: Radiator Springs in Cars

The movie Cars references Route 66 landmarks. It’s shown that Radiator Springs is between New Mexico and California.

The Real Place: Cadillac Ranch

In Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture. It was created in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm. It consists of a timeline of Cadillacs that are half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle similar to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

The Disney films Location: Ramone’s Body Shop

Ramone’s is Lightning McQueen’s best friend’s shop where they hang and get handy police service.





The Real Place: The U-Drop Inn

The U-Drop Inn is an art-deco building built in 1936 in Shamrock, Texas along the historic Route 66 highway.  The building has two flared towers with geometric detailing, glazed ceramic tile walls, and curvilinear massing accented with neon lights.


And, of course, we will never forget Ariel:

The Disney films Location: Prince Eric’s Castle

In the Little Mermaid Prince Eric’s castle is hardly seen. In the Little Mermaid II you see a lot more of the Danish style castle. The castle is located near a cliff overlooking an ocean.

The Real Place: Chateau de Chillon

Island castle Chateau de Chillon is located on Lake Geneva, south of Veytaux in the canton of Vaud. Chillon is a popular tourist destination in Switzerland.


Then, there is the brave Simba:




The Disney films Location: Rafiki’s Tree

Rafiki, is a baboon who is the advisor to the king in The Lion King.  He helped Simba claim his rightful place.

The Real Place: Baobab tree, Africa

The baobab tree or the Adansonia digitata is found in the hot, dry area of sub-Saharan Africa. Its nickname is Monkey Bread Tree because it has soft, dry edible fruit that attracts a lot of hungry monkeys.


There is also the Warrior Princess:

The Disney films Location: The Emperor’s Castle

Mulan was the first Disney princess who did not count on the prince to save her. She joined the army, while impersonating a man and saved all of China. She became a hero after killing Shan Yu.

The Real Place: The Forbidden City

The Emperor’s Palace was modeled after the Forbidden City. It was the home of many emperors and their families and servants. Hua Mulan was the real character said to have pretended to be a man to join the army.




We will always remember the princess who slept for a hundred years:

The Disney films Location: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

As a baby, Princess Aurora was cursed to die via spinning wheel. One of her fairy godmothers changed it, so that she wouldn’t die, but merely be in a coma. The king and queen sent her off to live with the fairies.

When she turns sixteen, she still pricks her finger on a spindle. Prince Philip, then rescues her and slays the dragon. They live happily ever after.


The Real Place: Schloß Neuschwanstein

Ludwig II of Bulgaria commissioned Schloß Neuschwanstein as a retreat for himself. Sleeping Beauty’s castle was based on this actual building. This palace has been featured in other movies.


Who wouldn’t want to be part of Snow White’s world?

The Disney ​films Location: The Queen’s Castle

The Evil Queen is the stepmother of Snow White. The Queen is scared Snow White’s beauty will surpass her own, so she makes her work as a scullery maid. She then plots to have Snow White murdered.

She eventually finds out that Snow White is still alive and makes another plan to poison her. Snow White is saved by true love’s kiss. She lives happily ever after with her prince.




The Real Place: Segovia Castle

Segovia Castle juts out from a rocky crag in Spain. This gigantic building has served a number of purposes aside from being a royal palace. It was a state prison and a military academy.

This multi-purpose castle may even have a magic mirror.


Then, there’s Rapunzel and her family’s kingdom:

The Disney films Location: The Castle in Tangled

Princess Rapunzel was kidnapped by Mother Gothel. She needed her because she did not want to grow old. Rapunzel remains trapped in a tower overlooking her kingdom, which she doesn’t know is rightfully hers.


The Real Place: Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France

Mont Saint-Michel is an island community with 44 residents. As a recognizable landmark in France, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and garners 3 million visitors per year.

The Disney films Location: Rapunzel’s Birthday Celebration

The king and queen continuously searched for Rapunzel to no avail. To commemorate her birthday, they would release hundreds of lanterns into the sky.




The Real Place: Lanna Thai Yi Peng festival which means Full Moon Day

Floating lanterns are a Buddhist concept that if done are supposed to result in good deeds, acts, and thoughts.


Who will ever forget the scenes in The Emperor’s New Groove:

The Disney films Location: Pacha’s Village

Kuzco was a selfish emperor, who decided that his summer home Kuzcotopia will be built on Pacha’s home. Kuzco is turned into a llama and eventually becomes friends with Kuzco.

The Real Place: Machu Picchu

The hills of Kuzcotopia looks similar to Machu Picchu. Archaelogists believe that Machu Picchu was built for the Inca emperor Pachacuti.


Then, there’s the picturesque views from Up:






The Disney flims Location: Paradise Falls

Ellie and her husband Carl had a life goal to go to Paradise Falls. When Ellie dies, Carl plans to take the trip they never got to go on. He uses thousands of balloons to bring his house to the location.


The Real Place: Angel Falls in Venezuela

Salto Ángel, which means “waterfall of the deepest place” in Pemon language, is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is 3,212 feet tall with a plunge of 2,648 feet. This area is hard to reach because there are no overland routes.


To know more about the happiest place on earth, check this out: Disneyland Celebrates it’s 60th Birthday!



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