Hard as it may be to believe, many of the locations in our favourite Disney movies are based on dreamy locations that actually exist. From Frozen to Aladdin to Beauty and the Beast, click through our gallery of Disney’s majestic destinations based on real life locations:
1. Khan el Khalili (Cairo, Egypt) – Aladdin
You may just find Genie’s lamp as you wander along Khan el Khalili – a bustling medieval souk in the heart of Cairo. Take in the unique sights and scents as merchants try to sell you their spices and ware. It may not be Agrabah, but it is definitely a dazzling place you never knew!
2. Duns Castle (Berwickshire, Scotland) – Beauty and the Beast
If you’ve been dying to channel Belle (or Emma Watson), Duns Castle may just be the place to do it. Surrounded by tranquil greenery, the castle is as old as time, dating back to 1320 and boasting ornate décor and vistas. We’re not sure if you can waltz into the ballroom with a shimmering yellow gown, but you can tour the castle and try your hand at falconry and archery, amongst other activities.
3. St. Olaf's Church (Balestrand, Norway) - Frozen
The Chapel in Frozen was inspired by St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway. The church was completed in 1897 as a memorial to Margaret Green. A British national who fell in love with and married Knut Kvikne, she was a very pious woman who wished for an Anglican church in Balestrand. Her wish came true but sadly she died before it was completed.
4. The Forbidden City (Beijing, China) – Mulan
While scaling the roof of Chinese imperial palace The Forbidden City will definitely make a man out of you. This gem in Beijing will be best viewed as you explore it on-ground. Recognised as one of the most important five palaces in the world, it once housed 24 emperors and flaunts classical Chinese and East architecture with intricate carvings and structures.
5. Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy, France) - Tangled
The team who designed the Kingdom of Corona in Tangled were inspired by Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. This unique island commune is periodically cut off from the mainland by tidal waters. One of France’s most recognisable landmarks, visited by more than three million people each year, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
6. Machu Picchu (Cusco, Peru) - The Emperor's New Groove
Pacha’s village in The Emperor’s New Groove was inspired by Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru. This Incan citadel is found 2,430m up in the mountains of Peru. Built in the 15th century, the site was abandoned in approximately 1550 during the Spanish Conquest. It remained forgotten to the outside world until it was rediscovered in 1911.
7. Alcázar de Segovia (Madrid, Spain) - Snow White
Segovia castle played a key part in inspiring the design of the Queen’s Castle in Snow White and is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in the world due to its shape – said to be based on the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then.
8. Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand) – The Little Mermaid
Sha la la la la la, my oh my! Marvel at the magical light display as you float through the lagoon of Glowworm Grotto. Glow worms light the cave formations creating a serene and romantic ambience. You’ll be left speechless in its wake – almost like Ariel!
9. Angel Falls (Auyantepui, Venezuela) - Up
Paradise Falls in Up was inspired by Venezuela’s Angel Falls, the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. It falls from a mountain called Auyantepui, which is one of several table-topped “tepui” mountains in Venezuela. Not content with featuring in Up, the falls also made an appearance in Disney’s 2000 film Dinosaur.
10. Neuschwanstein Castle (Bavaria, Germany) – Sleeping Beauty
Indeed a castle for fairytales, Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the “Fairytale King”. Perched atop a rocky hill, the castle is surrounded by a breath-taking landscape of majestic mountains and is said to be inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Disney’s iconic logo. Indeed an idyllic place to take a long nap.
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