Disney has been known to bring out the dreamlands from fairytales into existence through its magical animated movies. While these magnificent locations are, in fact, manifestations of real-life monuments and places, we bring to you a list of ten wonderful tourist attractions from all around the world that inspired your favourite films and classics.
Neuschwanstein - Sleeping Beauty
Placed on a craggy hilltop above the Hohenschwangau village, the Neuschwanstein castle of Bavaria inspired the design for the dreamy castle in The Sleeping Beauty. Popularly known as the “Fairytale Castle”, Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwigs II in the honour of an Opera composer that he greatly admired; Richard Wagner. Despite the deceptive medieval architecture, it was actually built in the 19th century with state-of-the-art interiors. Open to the public since 1886, it is today the most popular tourist destinations of Europe.
Disney in fact later incorporated the castle in its film production logo.
Alsace - Beauty and the Beast
Alsace is a small Germanic region in France with villages painted in bright colours and lined with steep-roofed, half-timbered houses. Belle’s vibrant home town in Beauty and The Beast is based on these colourful villages. Placed between the river Rhine and the Vosges mountains, passing through some of the most beautiful vineyards, Alsace is an ideal escape from the chaos and hustle of daily life. With its unique architecture, special wines and perfect foaming beer, this region makes for a classic story-book town.
Angel Falls - Up
One of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, Angel Falls of Venezuela served as an inspiration to the makers of Up. The highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world and one of the most magnificent phenomena on Earth, it existence evaded most until 1937. The locals call it Kerekupai-Meru, meaning “falls of the water to the deepest site”. The new name actually came from Jimmy Angel, an American pilot who landed there in 1937 in search of gold.
Taj Mahal - Aladdin
Built in the 17th century and taking almost 17 years to complete, the Taj Mahal in India is what inspired the Sultan’s Castle in Aladdin. Recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was designed and constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife. An architectural epitome of Indo-Islamic culture, tradition and art, the monument stands tall at the banks of the Yamuna river as perhaps the most serene one on the planet.
Forbidden City - Mulan
The King’s palace in the film Mulan has drawn inspiration from the largest imperial palace in the world, The Forbidden City in Beijing. Built in the early 15th century, the complex housed the emperors of the Qing and Ming dynasties for over 24 generations. The city spread in an area of 150,000 square meters, comprises of 980 buildings and 90 palaces and more than 8,700 rooms. Hosting 14 million tourists every year, the city was once “forbidden” for the ordinary people, thus the name.
Chateau de Chillon - Little Mermaid
The Chateau de Chillon is a medieval fortress standing on the shores of Lake Geneva. The idea behind Eric’s castle in The Little Mermaid comes directly from here. The castle is built on a site occupied since the Bronze Age but its first written mention wasn't till the 12th century. After thousands of years of existence and changing hands between various rulers, it is today Switzerland’s most visited monument and can be rented for various events.
Louisiana Bayous - The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog loosely revolves around a marshy swamp which is influenced by the Bayous in Louisiana, Bayous are marshy lakes or wetlands categorised by slow-moving waters and thus also known as “sleeping waters”. This interesting nickname also forms the backdrop of some of the voodo myths and fairytales from the area. These tales have greatly influenced parts of the movie too.
Eilean Donan Castle - Brave
First built as a defence against the Vikings in the 13th century, the Castle was destroyed in the 18th century and reconstructed to create the present structure. In the animated film Brave, the Royal Castle DunBroch strikes shares a great deal of resemblance with this Scottish monument. Situated on an island, at the meeting point of the three seas, this marvel is now the icon of Scotland.
Segovia Castle - Snow White
This Fortress in Segovia, Spain was first constructed by the Arabs in the medieval era and later converted into a palace, very much like its current form by King Alfonzo VIII and Eleanor of England in the 12th century. This castle is said to have inspired the Evil Queen’s castle in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It in fact even draws the same mysterious look from the snowy forests surrounding the castle.
The French Laundry - Ratatouille
For the most part of the movie Ratatouille was to be set in a restaurant's kitchen in Paris, Pixar took it upon itself to find the best to model it on. The film’s kitchen thus based its design on the French Laundry, Nappa Valley restaurant. Ranked amongst the best places to eat in the world, the French Laundry is in fact located in a timber cottage from the 1880s. The top chefs design two unique nine-course tasting menus, every day, with fresh ingredients sourced locally, including a vegetarian one.