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Real Places that Inspired Disney Classics

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by PerthKel (subscribe)
I'm a part time actor and part time writer living in Perth. I love being on stage. I love going out with friends, doesn't matter what we do
Published July 11th 2015
10 Real Life Places That Inspired Disney
Many of us have gone 'wow' at some of the landscapes and buildings we see in Disney's famous animated movies, but did you know that many of them have actually been inspired by real life places! From the Scottish Highlands, to the desert of Texas to the Swiss Alps, here's 10 real life places that have inspired Disney's breathtaking landscapes and buildings.

1. U-Drop Inn (United States)

Photo by Billy Hathorn


This historic building was once a bustling hotel along the now decommissioned Route 66. Built in 1936, it's now a museum, visitors' centre, gift shop and the Shamrock City of Commerce. Described as 'one of the most impressive examples' of Route 66 architecture, this Texan building was in the inspiration for Ramone's House of Body Art in Cars.

2. Chateau de Chillon (Switzerland)

Photo by Zacharie Grossen


Perched on its own island on Lake Geneva, this quaint little fortress is believed to be the inspiration behind Prince Eric's castle from The Little Mermaid. Chillon Castle is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe.

3. The Forbidden City (China)

Phot by Gisling


The Forbidden City is believed to be the inspiration behind the emperor's home in Mulan, even though it was built after the time setting of the movie. Mulan is set during the Han Dynasty, while the Forbidden City was built during the Ming Dynasty some 1000 years later. In its time it has been the home of emperors, the ceremonial and political centre of the Chinese government and now serves as a museum.

4. Eilean Donan (Scotland)

Phot by Diliff


Located in the highlands of Scotland, this castle was inspiration for the Pixar movie Brave, which itself is set in Scotland. Eilean Donan, simply which means 'island of Donnan', is named after Donnan of Eigg, a Celtic saint who was martyred in 617. It's set on a small tidal island where three lochs meet and is connected to the mainland by a footbridge.

5. Hotel de Glace (Canada)

Photo by Chensiyuan


Bet you can't guess this one. The ice may give it away, it's Elsa's Palace from Frozen. This hotel near Quebec is carved out of actual ice, has to be freshly constructed each year and only lasts for about three months. It was first constructed and opened in 2001, with only 11 double beds, but now has more than 50 double beds available each year.

6. Alsace (France)

Photo by Tizianok


This region of France, which is the fifth smallest of the 27 regions of France, and its quaint little villages was the inspiration behind Little Town, Belle's home in Beauty and The Beast. The region is also the seventh most densely populated in France.

7. Chateau de Chambord (France)

Photo by Lieven Smits


This French castle was the inspiration behind Beast's castle in Beauty and The Beast. Although 28 years (1519-1547) were spent in constructing this huge place, it has never actually been finished. Today the chateau is now open to the public and received 700,000 visitors in 2007.

8. Route 66

Photo by Dietmar Rabich


It's one of the most well known highways in America, and it and its scenery it winds through, was the setting for Cars. In its heyday it was a major roadway connecting the west and east coasts of the states, between 1926 and 1985 when it was removed from the US highway system.

9. The French Laundry (California)

Photo by Peter Merholz


This historic building, in Yountville, California, is the home of The French Laundry. This restaurant, which is consistently rated amongst the best in the world, is behind the setting for Ratatouille.

10. The Serengeti (Tanzania)

Photo by Stefan Swanepoel


This one might be obvious to you, but The Lion King got its scenery from the wild plains and the animal migrations of the Serengeti. It spans approximately 30,000 square km with around 70 larger mammal and 500 bird species being found there.

All images appear courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Why? Interesting facts
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Interesting article PerthKell, especially when these places are also accessible to the public so we can see them for ourselves.
The ultimate one for me would have to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Germany, it's the inspiration behind the Disney logo :)
by Pynylopy (score: 1|42) 1192 days ago
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