Real Life Places That Inspired Disney Movies


Have you ever secretly wanted to visit Cinderella’s castle, or maybe explore the African Safaris from the Lion King? Did you know that those places were inspired by REAL-LIFE locations that you can actually go visit? Here are the Top Ten Real-Life Places that Inspired Disney Movies.

Number One: Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany 

The castle that started it all. Inspiring Walt Disney’s trademark Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland, this 19th-century Bavarian castle remains one of the leading influences of Disney today. If you care to visit, it’s just a quick day-trip outside of Munich, Germany.

Number Two: Mont-Saint Michael, Normany France

Inspiring Tangled’s Kingdom of Corona, this tidal island in Normandy, France dates back as early as the 400s.

Number Three: Alsace, France

Inspiring Belle’s ‘provincial life’ in Beauty and the Beast, this quaint french village is like something out of a fairytale.

Number Four: Frozen – Hotel De Glace, Quebec City, Canada

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Elsa’s ice palace from Frozen was actually inspired by Hotel De Glace in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel is literally made of ice! Every winter, architects add a new look or change to the structure, spicing things up every season.

Number Five: Chillon Castle, Switzerland 

When Ariel traded her voice for legs, she reached Prince Eric’s castle. But did you know that castle was inspired by the real-life Chillon Castle in Switzerland? It rests right beside the beautiful Lake Geneva, framed by snowcapped peaks of the Alps. What a tough view!

Number sixth: Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the evil queen’s castle was inspired by the Spanish fortress- Alcázar of Segovia- which overlooks the top of a rocky crag and two rivers.

Number seven: Taj Mahal, India 

Did you know that the Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin was actually inspired by the Taj Mahal? The Taj Mahal is based in India, but the creators wanted to loosely base its colossal structure off of the Sultan’s Palace in their fictional kingdom Agrabah.

Number eight: Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Numerous of the landscape animation from The Lion King was inspired by Amboseli National Park in Kenya. If you check out the opening number of The Circle of Life, you can see how closely they copied the geography.

Number nine: St. Olaf’s Church, Balestrand, Norway

St. Olaf’s Church in Norway was the inspiration behind the church in Frozen, where Elsa’s coronation takes place. Its Scandinavian architecture and water-front position make it the perfect model for the animators of Frozen.

Number ten: Cars – U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas

Yes, that gas station in Cars is based on a real place. If you’re ever in Shamrock, Texas, make sure to check out the U-Drop Inn. This is what inspired Cars’s Ramone’s House of Body Art. After Route 66 was decommissioned, the inn closed down and fell into despair. Nowadays, it’s a tourist attraction and the site of a Tesla electric vehicle charging station! Thanks, Cars!

If you’re interested in travel, or want to find more hidden gems like these, make sure to check out the rest of our blogs under the Travel Segment!