18 Real-Life Locations That Inspired Disney
The beautiful worlds found in our favorite Disney movies are works of imagination, but even they are rooted in real-life locations. These images comparing some of Disney’s most iconic locations with their real-life counterparts will make you believe in magic!
The degrees to which Disney’s artists borrowed on these real-life sources can vary, but for most, the link is obvious. A number of Disney’s classics were also based on existing traditional fairy tales, meaning that the references to real-life castles were all the more appropriate.
Image credits: paparountas
The Royal Castle in Sleeping Beauty was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. This castle was built by Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1892 as a personal retreat and a tribute to Richard Wagner, his favorite composer. Ludwig II, known by some as the Swan King, was an enthusiastic art patron, leaving beautiful structures throughout Bavaria.
Beauty and the Beast – Alsace, France
Image credits: Tambako The Jaguar
This small village square in Beauty And The Beast was inspired by Alsace, a picturesque region in North-West France that, throughout most of Europe’s history, was politically German. As such, it has a blend of these two cultures, which can be found in the names of various locations and especially in the region’s beautiful pastoral architecture.
Tangled – Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
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Image credits: Stéphane Briand
The cathedral in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame was none other than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The iconic and imposing cathedral is one of the most well-known examples of Gothic architecture in the world. It took almost 200 years to complete and was one of the first buildings to use flying buttresses in Europe – architects had to add these imposing supports when they noticed that the upper walls were buckling under the building’s weight.
The Little Mermaid – Chateau De Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
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Image credits: Heather Tesch
The Chapel in Frozen was inspired by St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway. It was also known as the English church because its construction was begun by Margaret Green, an Englishwoman who lived in the nearby mountains with Knut Kvikne, the man she fell in love with. Though she stayed there with him, she was also very pious, and began building the church with him to be able to practice her Anglican faith. Unfortunately, she died before it was completed.
The Princess And The Frog – Louisiana bayous, USA
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The bayou of New Orleans from Princess And The Frog was inspired by the real-life swampy lakes, marshes and slow-moving rivers that characterize the state of Louisiana. The bayous are home to swamp creatures like alligators, catfish and turtles, which have inspired creepy tales of ravenous supernatural swamp beasts.
Brave – Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK
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Image credits: Oliver J Davis Photography
The city of Atlantis in Atlantis: The Lost Empire was inspired by Angkor Wat in Angkor, Cambodia. Though Atlantis was based on a legendary sunken Greek island that may or may not have existed, its visual inspiration is definitely real. Angkor Wat began as a Hindu temple and was later re-purposed as a Buddhist temple complex in the 12th century. In any case, it is the largest religious monument in the world!
Frozen – Hotel De Glace, Quebec City, Canada
Image credits: Pierre-Arnaud
Elsa’s ice palace in Frozen was inspired by Hotel De Glace in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel is a seasonal structure that appears on the outskirts of Quebec City in Canada every winter. Its architecture actually varies from year to year, but its extraordinary nature – the fact that it is constructed from bricks of ice – made it the perfect inspiration for a palace in Frozen.
Snow White – Segovia Castle, Spain
Image credits: Fernando de Antonio
The Queen’s castle in Snow White was inspired by the Alcazar of Segovia, a castle found in central Spain. It was used, to various, for hundreds and hundreds of years by various Spanish monarchs until it was badly damaged by a fire in 1862. It stands on a cliff at the confluence of two rivers, giving it a shape similar to the prow of a ship.