Have you ever wondered if there was a location in real life that looked like some of those picturesque scenes in Disney films? You might be surprised to learn that there are a number of locations around the world that served as the inspiration for many of those beloved movies, in fact, you may even want to plan your next trip around one of them.
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Eguisheim, Alsace, France (Nearby Hotels)
This small village square you might recall from “Beauty And The Beast “was inspired by the Alsace region, an incredibly picturesque area in north-west France that throughout much of Europe’s history was politically German. With that, it offers an idyllic mix of the two cultures which can be found in places like Eguisheim, a colorful town surrounded by vineyards, tucked into the lush green hills of the Alsatian Wine Route. in addition to multiple wine cellars and wine bars, by strolling the narrow, medieval streets lined with half-timbered houses decorated with flowers, you’ll feel as if you’re in a storybook or Disney film.
Samoa (Nearby Hotels)
One of Disney’s more recent films, “Moana” is the tale of a teenage girl who embarks on an adventure to save her Polynesian Island and its people. While it takes place on a fictional island some 2,000 years ago, the filmmakers wanted it to be as true to the South Pacific as possible, so they visited Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, but it was Samoa that ultimately became the primary inspiration for the fictional isle of “Motunui.” If you go, be sure to visit To Sua, a natural 100-foot-deep swimming pool on the south coast of Upolu Island, famous for its gorgeous beaches and unspoiled nature.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland (Nearby Hotels)
If “The Little Mermaid” is one of your favorites, you may want to visit Lake Geneva.That’s because it’s the home of Chillon Castle, also known as Chateau de Chillon, which served as the inspiration for Eric’s castle in the movie. Walk alongside the lake and explore the11th-century island castle, or take a tour of the tower, courtyards, dungeons and its rooms. Most impressive is Camera domini, one of the oldest rooms, once occupied by the Duke of Savoy and decorated with 14th-century medieval murals.
Macchu Pichu, Peru (Nearby Hotels)
The art and design of “The Emperor’s New Groove” was heavily influenced by Incan culture, and Pacha’s village sits on some mountains that are likely to look rather familiar. Machu Picchu, the lost city that explorer Hiram Bingham discovered a century ago offers a transformational experience. The journey to get here challenging visitors to follow the footsteps of ancient Incas through nine different biozones, changing altitudes and diverse terrain. Your reward is this well-preserved Incan site that features the almost always mist-shrouded.
Angel Falls, Venezuela (Hotel Prices & Photos)
“Paradise Falls” in the movie “Up” was based on the real life Angel Falls in Venezuela. Nestled within Canaima National Park, it’s the world’s highest waterfall. This astonishing cascade tumbles 3,212 feet – 19 times higher than Niagara Falls, which stands 170 feet at its highest point. Aside from the breathtaking scale of the falls, the remote location makes it a much less-visited attraction, located 1,000 miles southeast of the capital city of Carcas and 160 miles southeast of Ciudad Bolivar. To view it, you’ll need to take a boat ride up the Churun River, a flight over the top or a jungle trek through grasslands, rivers and mountains.
Mont Saint-Michel, France (Hotel Prices & Photos)
One of the most iconic attractions in France, Mont Saint-Michel was the inspiration for Rapunzel’s parents’ castle in “Tangled.” Set upon a rocky tidal island it’s connected by a causeway to the mainland. The awe-inspiring abbey was built by devoted monks in the early 8th-century after the Bishop of Avranches was said to have been visited by the Archangel Michael. At its entrance, is the ancient Burgher’s Guardroom, now serving as a tourist office. Visitors walk through the Boulevard Gate and then the fortified King’s Gate, where the Grand Rue, or main street, is lined with shops, museums and houses that date from the 15th and 16th centuries. Take a stroll along the mud flats of the bay during low tide, for an impressive photo of the magnificent abbey from afar.
Kauai (Nearby Hotels)
You already know that “Lilo and Stitch” is Hawaiian, but which island was it based on? The Garden Isle of course, officially known as Kauai. One of the world’s most romantic islands, it boasts countless waterfalls, flower-filled gardens and lush green valleys, and offers the opportunity to kayak the only navigable river in Hawaii. Visitors can also enjoy secluded dips in hidden pools, sailing the coast or taking a helicopter tour over the Na Pali Coast for a bird’s eye view of one of the most jaw-dropping sights on Earth.
Alcazar of Segovia, Spain (Nearby Hotels)
The Alcazar, or El Alcazar de Segovia, in Spain’s old city of Segovia, also inspired Mr. Walt Disney. It was said to be the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, as well as the castle in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” It sits atop a craggy hill, and at some angles appears to actually be sailing toward the viewer.
Serengeti, National Park, Tanzania, Africa (Nearby Hotels)
Disney’s global hit, “The Lion King,” was inspired by The Serengeti of Africa, and it also served to inspire many to travel to this region of the world. Tanzania is home to 10,000 lions, nearly half the world’s population, and over a third live in Serengeti National Park. Established in 1929, this is the oldest protected conservation area in Tanzania and is one of the hottest places on the planet to see lions and the other Big Five: elephants, rhino, leopards and buffalo.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands (Nearby Hotels)
Eilean Donan Castle was used in Disney’s recent feature, “Brave.” Clan MacRae’s grand table at the center of the Banqueting Hall was the model for Merida’s royal family gatherings. Set along the main route to the Isle of Skye in the western highlands, it’s strategically located on a tiny island where three sea-lochs meet, linked to the mainland by a footbridge and surrounded by forested mountains. It’s also open for public tours.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Nearby Hotels)
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, in the 1959 film and at Disneyland. Built in the late 19th century, it wasn’t meant for defense purposes as most castles were, but as an elaborate retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The interior of the castle can be explored through a guided tour.