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Destinations to Inspire Disney Fans

Destinations from a Disney dream

Disney films, be they live action, computer animated or the classic cartoon animated films almost always have an incredible setting as the backdrop. Beautiful landscapes, impressive palaces and wonderful scenery all help add a magical feeling to the world and the adventure. But have you considered what locations may have sparked such artistry?

Believe it or not many of the locations Disney use are indeed inspired by a real-world place and many of them are places you can go and visit and perhaps experience a little of the wonder and magnificence that caused them to be worthy of being the backdrop for the films in the first place.

Neuschwanstein - Cinderella

Destinations that may have inspired a Disney film location

There are plenty of places to choose from and some of the films take influence from multiple places. Here we have tried to match a location to an iconic moment or scene of the film:

  • Frozen: St. Olaf’s Church, Balestrand, Norway and Nærøyfjord, Aurland, Norway and Hotel De Glace, Quebec City, Canada. - Frozen takes it's location and landscape inspiration from Nærøyfjord or "Narrow Fjord" in Aurland, it's chapel in Arendelle could well be St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand both inspirational places in Norway. However, Elsa's ice palace is almost certainly inspired by Hotel De Glace, a seasonal structure and hotel, constructed from bricks of ice that goes up somewhere near Quebec City during Canadas winter season each year.
  • Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella: Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany. - This German castle, built for the 19th-century Bavarian king Ludwig II, with its pointed towers and turrets certainly looks the part and many Disney fans will instantly recognise it as the inspiration for at least two of Disney's fictional castles.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Alsace, France. - The Alsace region of France is well known for its colourful villages with interesting mixed, almost whimsical, architecture and a village like Ribeauville, from the region, could well have been Belle's quaint village or at least an inspiration for it.
  • Tangled: Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France. - The French commune of Mont Saint-Michel was originally built as an abbey and is now a World Heritage site that is still open to visitors. It is the basis of the design for Rapunzel's kingdom in Tangled and is quite a sight to behold in person.
Mont Saint Michel - Tangled
  • The Little Mermaid: Chateau De Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland. - The Château de Chillon, or Chillon castle as it's known in English, is a medieval fortress on the shores of Lake Geneva that was built in 1150 and along with the colour scheme, and style, it juts out into the water just like Prince Eric's home in the little mermaid.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Grand Central Terminal, New York City, USA. - Game Central Station in Wreck-It Ralph is almost definitely based on the Grand Central Station found in New York City, the great windows, the style and the hustle and bustle of the station helps give the film the feeling of life and movement that can certainly be felt at the Grand Central Terminal.
  • The Princess And The Frog: Louisiana bayous, USA. - New Orleans and the Louisiana bayous are a famous natural swampland that was definitely the inspiration for this disney film and should you be in the United States on a visit New Orleans you can take airboat tours to see the marshy swamplands yourself.
  • Brave: Scotland, UK. - Brave is obviously based in Scotland, with the old medieval castle look that can be found in many castles from across the UK. One such inspirational place could be Eilean Donan Castle which is a completed reconstruction of a castle that had been there in the past, another could be the ruins found at Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire where churches and castles have been built, destroyed and rebuilt since the 3rd century.
  • Hercules: Greece. - Many places in Greece are a great visit and the film is not specific to a location, with inspiration coming from all over, so a cruise is probably the best way to get a feel for the place in one trip.
  • Finding Nemo: Sydney Harbour, Australia. - An easy one this and a must see if you plan on going to Sydney as the opera house is one of Australias iconic symbolic sites.
  • Up: Angel Falls, Venezuela. - The natural beauty of this landscape and its high waterfalls makes this an amazing location for the film and an adventure to see for real.
Taj Mahal - Aladdin
  • Aladdin: Taj Mahal, Agra, India. - To put it simply the palace in Aladdin is based on the Taj Mahal and is a fantastic visit should you go to India.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru. - The ruins, way up in the Andes mountains were once part of the Incan empire and it is entirely possible to see wild llamas while visiting this incredible and mysterious site.
  • Mulan: Forbidden City, Beijing, China. - is the largest ancient palace in the world and was originally forbidden to the ordinary citizens of China. Now it is a spectacular World Heritage site that is well worth getting the guided tour to see and discover its history.
  • The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. - The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is the direct inspiration for The Hunchback Of Notre Dame novels setting and is a great sight that Disney animators recreated well for the film.
  • Cars: U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas. - The U-Drop Inn, the inspiration for Ramone’s House of Body Art in the film, was closed down and fell into disrepair after route 66 was decommissioned but has since become a national art-deco architectural monument and the site of a Tesla electric vehicle charging station.
  • Atlantis The Lost Empire: Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia. - Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a world heritage site and is the is the largest religious monument in the world. Even if you haven't seen the Disney movie this is a sight to behold and if you have you may recognise it as the inspiration for the sunken island's structures and scenery.
  • Snow White: Segovia Castle, Spain. - The castle found in snow white could certainly be based on Alcazar of Segovia, a castle found in central Spain. With lots of rounded and spired towers, the density of walls and the position on top of a rock on a hill the castle certainly looks like the classic Disney castle.
  • Moana: Samoa - The directors of Disney's animated film Moana are known to have travelled to Fiji, Tonga, and of course Samoa to get ideas for what their fictional Polynesian island of Motunui should look like so they could give this film an accurate feel of a Polynesian island in the South Pacific.

If you are thinking of booking a trip to see one of the real-life locations to make it into a Disney film make sure you plan well, keep yourself safe and enjoy your own little adventure. Of course, you could also go to one of Disney's theme parks to experience a little of the magic that they bring to their films in person, either way, we hope this has given you some inspiration for your next getaway.

Disney castle

Don't forget your travel insurance!

An adventure of your own, while hopefully enjoyable, can be a little risky with a myriad of things that can go wrong we would always recommend you get travel insurance that fully covers you and any needs that you may have. Given the large range of places that Disney took their inspiration from, we cannot really give specific suggestions as to what to look for in your travel insurance, however, there are a few general areas to look at that are handy for any trip.

Medical cover is an important aspect if you have any medical conditions that you want to be covered particularly if you plan on going to the United States or Canada as the cost of any medical treatment there is high. We can also recommend checking your Baggage and Cancellation cover for any holiday as these areas will help should you have any issues with lost luggage or having to cancel or cut short your trip for any unfortunate reasons.

You may wish to check out some of our other posts for guides, tips and other useful information, otherwise, if you are ready to look for some travel insurance, we at medical travel insurance can aid you in finding a quote that's right for you.

In need of assistance?

Our medical travel insurance team are ready to provide you with assistance regarding your quote. If you would prefer to talk to an advisor to receive a quote or have a query please contact our UK based customer service team. Find out details on our contact us page.


Sand and clear blue water