10 Real-Life Locations That Inspired Our Favourite Animations

13th October 2017
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Our kids love Disney animations, and with such wonderful characters, storylines and scenery, we can certainly understand why! But did you know these 10 animations were actually inspired by real locations? You can even take your children to visit the places that inspired some of their favourite Disney animations…

  1. Sleeping Beauty

    Sleeping Beauty

    The Royal Castle in Sleeping Beauty was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Erected by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late 19th century, the castle was used as a personal retreat and built in honour of Richard Wagner, his favourite composer. Known in Germany as the Swan King, Ludwig II was a passionate art benefactor, leaving beautiful constructions throughout Bavaria.

  2. Frozen


Copyright Disney

Ice Hotel Norway

Copyright Pierre-Arnaud

Hotel De Glace in Quebec, Canada was the inspiration for Elsa’s renowned ice palace in Frozen. The hotel is seasonal and melts away every summer. Its style differs from year to year. Its unusual structure made from ice bricks and sculpted by artists made it the perfect inspiration for a castle in Disney’s popular animation.


3. Beauty and The Beast


Copyright Disney

The picturesque area of Alsace in North-West France served as inspiration for the small village square in Beauty And The Beast. The area is a blend of German and French architecture, as, throughout most of Europe’s history, it belonged to Germany. The blend of these two cultures can be seen in the names of different locations and especially in its superb pastoral architecture.


4. Up

Copyright Pixar

Copyright Pixar

Close-up of Angel Falls in mornign light

The world’s highest waterfall, situated in Venezuela is Paradise Falls found in Pixar’s animation Up. Its real name is Angel Falls or Kerepakupai Vena in the indigenous Pemon language. With an uninterrupted fall that’s almost 1 kilometre long, it falls from a mountain called Auyantepui, which is one of the table-topped “tepui” mountains in Venezuela.

5. Tangled

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney

Le Mont Saint Michel

The Kingdom of Corona’s real-life equivalent is none other than Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. This exclusive island commune is periodically flooded and therefore cut off from the mainland by tidal waters. This made it an impregnable fortress in the past. Nowadays, its striking similarity to Tangled’s kingdom makes it a popular attraction for tourists.

6. Aladdin

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney


This next one is an easy guess: the Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin is actually the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Often mistaken to be a palace, the Taj Mahal is actually a wonderful tomb that Emperor Shah Jahan started building in 1632 for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The iconic tomb is coated with white marble and surrounded by luxurious gardens.

7. The Little Mermaid

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney


Prince Eric’s castle in the beloved Little Mermaid animation was inspired by Chateau De Chillon. Situated on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, it dates back to the Roman Empire, when its purpose was to protect a road through the Alps. Not only is the castle striking, but being located on the shores of Lake Geneva makes it the ideal fairytale setting.

8. The Princess and The Frog

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney


The swamp of New Orleans from Princess and The Frog was inspired by the swampy lakes of Louisiana. The swamplands and lazy rivers characterize the state of Louisiana. The bayous are home to animals like alligators, catfish and turtles. They have served as inspiration for creepy tales of voracious mystical swamp beasts.

9. Snow White

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney


The Alcazar of Segovia, a castle situated in central Spain is the Queen’s castle in Snow White. Throughout history, it was used by various Spanish monarchs. In 1862, the beautiful castle was badly damaged in a fire and most of it had to be rebuilt.The castle stands tall on a cliff at the convergence of two rivers, dominating the landscape with its beauty.

10. Brave


Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney


The Royal Castle in Brave also has a real-life equivalent: the Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland. It is believed to have been served as a monastery between the 6th and 7th century, later becoming home to a castle that safeguarded the Mackenzie clan.


If you’re thinking of visiting any of these superb fairytale locations, just place an enquiry and our travel experts will offer you a unique holiday for you and your children! 

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