These 10 real life destinations that inspired Disney films are anything but two dimensional.
Woody and Buzz are back in Toy Story 4. While Disney Pixar's latest film is fun for all the family, look for hidden references to the hotel in Kubrick's The Shining – based on Colorado’s spooky real life Stanley hotel. Here, we look at other real life destinations that inspired Disney films.
10. Angel Falls, Venezuela: Up
Up's lost world of Paradise Falls was rendered by a team of creatives who headed to Venezuela’s table-top mountains for inspiration. They visited the world’s tallest waterfall, taking photos and video and sketching. The result is a dead ringer in director Peter Docter’s film as elderly hero Carl Frederiskon takes a memorable bucket-list, or should that be balloon-list, trip.
9. Alcázar of Segovia, Spain: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The home to Disney’s Evil Queen in Disney’s 1937 classic was modeled after the Alcázar of Segovia. The castle perched on a crag in central Spain has endured since the 12th century as a military fort, home to Spanish royalty, as a prison, an artillery college, and now as a museum. Visit visit to find out who really is the fairest of them all. As long as the answer doesn't make you grumpy.
8. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Sadly partly destroyed by fire earlier this year, Notre Dame represents one of the world’s finest examples of gothic architecture. Billions of French francs have been donated to help restore the historic cathedral, part of which was saved by brave firefighters. Disney’s 1995 film adapted the tale of the hunchback who risks everything to help his gypsy dancer friend.
7. The Forbidden City, Beijing, China: Mulan
The city palace and gates of the Imperial City in the 1998 film Mulan were based on Beijing’s Forbidden City, a UNESCO protected site where Chinese emperors lived from 1420 to 1912. Now a museum overlooking Tiananmen Square, the 180 acre Forbidden City museum is filled with ancient artefacts and art. Disney's animated musical was based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a female warrior who disguised as a man takes the place of her father in the army.
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6. Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France: Tangled
Looking for a Renaissance castle from which Rapunzel could let her hair down, the French artist Laurent Ben-Mimoun turned to the romantic oil paintings of 18th-century artist Fragonard for his concept art for Tangled. Taking his cue Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, he added medieval touches to complete the architectural look.
5. Taj Mahal, Agra, India: Aladdin
The ivory white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son before he could build a black replica of the Taj Mahal on the other side of the river, having planned to be buried there. Both mausoleums would meet in the water’s reflection. His body now rests entombed alongside his wife inside the Taj Mahal. In Aladdin, the city of “mystery and enchantment” Agrabah is located near the Jordan river but is near identical to the Taj Mahal, which many people mistake for a temple or palace.
4. Big Ben, London: Peter Pan
London remains a favorite destination for American tourists and is often a stopping point for a more expansive tour of Europe. Red double-decker buses, the London Underground, pearly kings and queens and Buckingham Palace are among the favorite things to see and so too is Big Ben. In Disney’s 1953 film, the clock tower's minute hand provides a stopping place for Peter Pan to take the trio of Darling children on their maiden flight.
3. Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland: Brave
Lonely Planet have named the Scottish highlands and islands one of the top tourist destinations in the world to visit in 2019. Whether you’re there to drive along the acclaimed North Coast 500 – recently voted the best road trip in the world – do an Outlander tour or to savor the delights of the country’s whisky distilleries, the region is steeped in history. Disney’s design team checked out the Scottish glens and mountains for the movie Brave for the story of rebellious princess Merida. Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and Dun Carloway broch on the Isle of Lewis both provided inspiration though much of Merida’s DunBroch Castle came from the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle on Scotland’s west coast. The banqueting hall and much of the interiors were based on this home to the Clan MacRae and are well worth a visit.
2. Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru: The Emperor’s New Groove
Perched thousands of feet above sea level, the abandoned Inca settlement inspired Pacha’s village in The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s where Kuzco wanted to build a theme park called Kuzcotopia. Machu Picchu is in the Cuzco region of Southwestern Peru. Get it? Kuzco… Cuzco… Machu Picchu, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Peru’s top tourist destination.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany: Sleeping Beauty
This 19th century castle nestled upon a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau – that's easy for you to say – was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as his retreat and in honour of the composer Richard Wagner. Over 60 million people have visited the castle since it was opened to the public after the king’s death in 1886. The castle provided the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the 1959 film. Walt Disney also visited Neuschwanstein Castle prior to construction of the Disneyland theme park.