25 Real Life Places That Inspired The Makers Of Disney Movies

Posted by , Updated on November 11, 2022

Disney movies’ landscape are known for being some of the most stunning creations in animation. But as magical as these fantasy worlds may appear, did you know that they are actually based on real places? Whether it’s a castle in the heart of the Swiss Alps or a desert road winding through the middle of Texas, these are 25 real life places that inspired the makers of Disney Movies.



U-Drop Inn (United States)

disney inspirations

In Cars, Ramone’s House of Body Art is based on this real-life hotel along Route 66.


Chateau de Chillon (Switzerland)

disney inspirations

Sitting on the shores of Lake Geneva, this quaint little fortress is believed to be the inspiration for Prince Eric’s castle in the Little Mermaid.


The Forbidden City (China)

disney inspirations

The design of the emperor’s home in Mulan is based on the design of the Forbidden City in Beijing although the Forbidden City wouldn’t be built until over 1,000 years later (Mulan is set during the Han Dynasty which lasted from 200BC to 200AD).


Eilean Donan (Scotland)

disney inspirations

Although you probably already knew that the Pixar movie Brave was set in the Scottish Highlands, this castle in particular was a big inspiration.


Hotel de Glace (Canada)

disney inspirations

This ice hotel in Quebec was the inspiration behind Elsa’s Palace in Frozen.


Alsace (France)

disney inspirations

The small villages of this region in France provided the inspiration for Belle’s home of Little Town in Beauty and the Beast.


Chateau de Chambord (France)

disney inspirations

This is the real-life inspiration for the beast’s castle in The Beauty And The Beast.


Route 66 (United States)

disney inspirations

Cars is based largely on the scenery that you would find along this classic American road.


The French Laundry (California)

disney inspirationshttps://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/13042291715/

This California restaurant is consistently rated as one of the best in the world and was the inspiration for the Paris based Ratatouille.


The Serengeti (Tanzania)

disney inspirationshttps://www.flickr.com/photos/endogamia/3918228439/

Famous for its massive migrations, the Serengeti was a huge inspiration behind the Lion King.


Yi Peng Festival (Thailand)

disney inspirations

Remember in Tangled when the parents released balloons to commemorate their daughter’s death? Well it’s based on the real life Yi Peng festival in Thailand.


The Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

disney inspirations

In Finding Nemo, the movie starts off in and around the Great Barrier Reef and ends up in Sydney Harbor.


Akershus Fortress (Norway)

disney inspirations

This fortress provided the inspiration for Anna and Elsa’s home in Frozen.


Alcázar de Segovia (Spain)

disney inspirations

Spain’s most famous castle is the real-life version of the Queen’s Castle in Snow White.


The Taj Mahal (India)

disney inspirations

This famous landmark was the inspiration for Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin.


Mont Saint-Michel (France)

disney inspirations

The home of Rapunzel’s parents in Tangled is based on this French commune.


New Orleans (United States)

disney inspirations

The Princess and the Frog isn’t just based on New Orleans, it’s actually set in New Orleans.


Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

The tallest mountain in Africa had several cameo appearances in the Lion King.


Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany)

Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany)

If you have ever seen a Disney Movie then you know the Disney Castle that appears before the start of every film. This is it.


Angel Falls (Venezuela)

Angel Falls (Venezuela)

This was the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the movie Up.


New Forest (England)

New Forest (England)

This English forest provided the setting for Sleeping Beauty.


Notre Dame (France)

Notre Dame (France)

It may be obvious but this famous cathedral in the heart of Paris was used as the backdrop for the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even the gargoyles were featured as characters!


Kauai (Hawaii)

Kauai (Hawaii)

You already knew that Lilo And Stitch took place in Hawaii, but did you know which island? If you guessed Kauai then you were right!


Ashdown Forest (England)

Ashdown Forest (England)

In this forest in southern England is Five Hundred Acres of Wood. It is the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh.


Machu Picchu (Peru)

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Pacha’s village in the Emperor’s New Groove is set on a very similar mountainside.

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