A Touch of Reality in the Animated World

A Touch of Reality in the Animated World
Real life locations have helped the filmmakers make the film more appealing and relatable, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Castles and magical lands, you may recognise these locations from the most iconic animated movies

Sahana Iyer
July 05 , 2019
05 Min Read

The revival of trends has been perpetual throughout history. The animated movies we watched and rewatched as children are now on screens again as live-action films, taking us down a path of crippling nostalgia. The 2019 Lion King and Aladdin have been some of the most anticipated films this year. This ongoing wave of translating animated films with a dash of reality is quite the opposite to the time when real locations were studied as the muse to create a fantastical counterpart. Let’s revisit that era and scroll through these real-life locations that have inspired some of the most iconic structures in the animated movies.

An enchanting sunset upon a Serengeti landscape

The Lion King Landscapes

Undoubtedly the talk of the town, the much awaited live-action version of the Lion King is soon to hit the screens. A classic, most millenials can recount the catchy tune of Hakuna Matata and the heart-breaking death of Mufasa in an instant. While the movie touches on all the emotions, the opening scene with a view of serene, expansive landscapes to the score of Circle of Life leaves you haunted with an indescribable feeling. These views have been plucked from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and even a few locations in the wild of Kenya. Serengeti is a popular tourist hotspot for the biodiversity it fosters. The vast grounds of the Serengeti alive with the wildlife has an unmistakable resemblance in the movie.

Close-up of the stunning Angel Falls in soft morning light

Paradise Falls, UP

The grumpy nature of protagonist Carl Fredricksen is rightfully forgiven when the viewer gets a peek at the background. The montage that starts off the movie- if you could see it past the tears in your eyes- shows us his late wife’s dream of visiting Paradise falls. The enchanting Paradise falls are an animated version of the Angel Falls in Venezuela. The world’s highest waterfall, the view will transport you to the climax of the movie, as you see the clear waters pouring down a massive mountain. Angel Falls is located in Canaima National Park at Bolivar State.

The ivory white mausoleum is a symbol of love

The Sultan’s Palace, Aladdin

Another box-office hit live-action was the return of the 1992 Disney movie, Aladdin. While the locations in the 2019 version were more elaborately rooted to the Middle Eastern background, a few of the originals had some scattered inspiration. The Sultan’s lavish palace is the most seen, not to mention iconic, location in the original version. The love story of Jasmine and Aladdin is seen blossoming in that palace. What better location to inspire romance than the monument of love? One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was the  muse for the palace. Built in the 1600s by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the monument is an awe-inducing structure made out of pure white marble. The movie version was altered to make it more appropriate to the Middle-East setting.

The U-Drop Inn at Shamrock, Texas

Ramone’s House of Body Art, Cars

The amusement of life in inanimate objects has driven children to movies such as Toy Story, Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast. But when the same formula was added to a race car, the thrill magnified multifolds. The 2006 Cars depicts the life of Lightning McQueen, a race car, in the desert town of Radiator Springs. The town closely resembles the city of Shamrock in Texas and one can identify the wide roads and even some of the locations shown in the movie. Ramone’s House of Body Art from the movie almost accurately mimics the 1936 built U-Drop Inn. The location is a gas station attached to a cafe.

Commuters and tourists at the Grand Central Station in New York

Game Central Station, Wreck-it Ralph

80s and 90s kids can probably reminisce of a time when arcades were the watering holes for children. The video game world exposed the children to a fantasy world in their control. The 2012 movie Wreck-It Ralph brings this world to life as it shows the arcade game characters as living creatures. All characters are seen gathering at what the movie calls Game Central Station. This intricately designed platform of sorts has been inspired by the Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, New York. The structure is an amalgamation of both intricate details as well as abundant spaces. The resemblance in the movie is uncanny.

St. Olaf Church is a quaint yet charming location

Church at Elsa’s coronation, Frozen

A cultural phenomenon, Frozen pleasantly surprised the audience when it narrated a tale of two princesses who weren’t saved by princes. The creative plotline showcased a more logical new-age woman; add to that the catchy tunes and the most amicable (and only) talking snowman ever seen and it makes a hard-to-beat combination. The early parts of the movie show Elsa’s coronation in a gorgeous, wooden arched church inspired by St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway. It is a funny coincidence that the snowman in the film was given the same name- or was it? The younger generation who have watched the movie uncountable times may be able to spot any differences, however, for the first-timer, the two locations are almost splitting images.


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