Everyone loves a good Disney movie, but how do they come up with their locations or inspirations for movies? We found the real-life versions of the movie sets, compiled them into a simple list of 18, and discovered that animators didn’t just dream up the quaint villages and grandiose castles in our favorite Disney movies. Many of these iconic locations were inspired by real-life events. The locations hand-picked by the movie production teams go from dramatic castles to enchanted forests to natural formations, and we love them.
Disney has spot-on in bringing fairy tales to life, and it always seems to bring our inner child out. The contrast between reality and imagination is a delight for all ages. It seems everyone has a favorite Walt Disney movie. Is yours on our list? From a tomb in India to a town square in France to an ice hotel in Canada, find out which of your favorite places from Disney movies you can visit around the world.
#1 “Moana” – Samoa
Samoa is a small island country in the central South Pacific Ocean. It is made up of an archipelago of nine islands, four of which are inhabited. The two largest islands are Savai’i and Upolu. Samoa sits about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii.
#2 “Oliver & Company” – New York City
#3 “Up” – Angel Falls, Venezuela
Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. Located in Canaima National Park, the second-largest national park in Venezuela. The falls are a tributary of the Carrao River, itself part of Venezuela’s Orinoco River system. Considered among the world’s most dazzling natural wonders, Angel Falls is a truly unforgettable spectacle.
#4 “Snow White” – Alcazar, In Segovia, Spain
It was built on top of a rock, a testament to its original military status. It was used as a residence by Alfonso VIII. In the 13th century, the building took on an air of Gothic elegance thanks to the Spanish architects working for John II and Henry IV.
#5 “Finding Nemo” – Sydney Harbour, Australia
#6 “Cars” – U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas
The historic Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café were built in 1936 to serve travelers along Route 66. Used as a model for Ramone’s Body Art in the movies “Cars” and “Cars II”, it now serves as the Shamrock Visitor Information Center.
#7 “The Emperor’s New Groove” – Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu, also spelled Machupijchu, site of ancient Inca ruins located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Cuzco, Peru, in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. One of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
#8 “Mulan” – The Forbidden City, Beijing
Forbidden City, Chinese (Pinyin) Zijincheng or (Wade-Giles romanization) Tzu-chin-cheng, imperial palace complex at the heart of Beijing (Peking), China. Commissioned in 1406 by the Yongle emperor of the Ming dynasty, it was first officially occupied by the court in 1420.
#9 “Brave” – Eilean Donan in The Scottish Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle is situated in Loch Duich near Dornie about 8 miles from Kyle of Lochalsh on the A87 road on the west coast of Scotland near the Isle of Skye. Loch Long and Loch Alsh are close by.
#10 “Peter Pan” – Big Ben, London
Big Ben is a tower clock known for its accuracy and its massive hour bell. Strictly speaking, the name refers only to the bell, which weighs 15.1 tons (13.7 metric tons), but it is commonly associated with the whole clock tower at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament, in the London borough of Westminster.
#11 “Hercules” – Ancient Greece
#12 “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” – Paris
#13 “Tangled” – Mont Saint-Michel, in Normandy
Mont-Saint-Michel is a rocky islet and famous sanctuary in Manche département, Normandy région, France, off the coast of Normandy. Around its base are medieval walls and towers above which rise the clustered buildings of the village with the ancient abbey crowning the mount. One of the more popular tourist attractions in France, Mont-Saint-Michel was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
#14 “Aladdin” – The Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum complex in Agra, western Uttar Pradesh state, northern India. It is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture (a blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles). The Taj Mahal is also one of the world’s most iconic monuments, visited by millions of tourists each year. The complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
#15 “Sleeping Beauty” – Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle, German Schloss Neuschwanstein, an elaborate castle near Füssen, Germany, built atop a rock ledge over the Pöllat Gorge in the Bavarian Alps by order of Bavaria’s King Louis II (“Mad King Ludwig”). Construction began in 1868 and was never completed.
#16 “Pinocchio” – Collodi Village, Italy
The Castle of Collodi, as it is also called, presents itself as a true and proper “cascade” of small houses and climbing on the slope of a hill steep, arranged on the sides of the two triangles which are touching with the vertices. At the summit there is the ancient fortress, to the base, on the other hand, the majestic Villa Garzoni, which stands on the ruins of the ancient medieval castle and that seems to hold the entire village. Strolling through the streets of the country it is observed with amazement the state of preservation of the village.
#17 “The Little Mermaid” – Chateau De Chillon, On Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Chillon Castle is located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. The water castle is the most visited historic building in Switzerland. For nearly four centuries Chillon was the residence and profitable toll station of the Counts of Savoy.
#18 “Frozen” – St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway
The English church in Balestrand was built as an imitation of a stave church. St. Olaf’s Church is Anglican and is owned and operated by the Church of England. This church built in a stave church style was completed in 1897. It belongs to the Church of England and is under the spiritual administration of the Bishop of Gibraltar who is in charge of all Anglican churches on the European mainland.