When creating new characters and stories, Disney often uses references to real life to create a unique effect. Have you ever thought about the fact that cities and sights from our favorite cartoons exist? Disney’s creative team takes inspiration from historic buildings and world wonders and brings them to screens. We found 8 real-world locations that Disney uses in its most popular animated films.
The Forbidden City, Beijing (Mulan)
All children and adults remember Mulan’s final battle with the Hun’s leader. But not everyone knows that Imperial City was inspired by the real Forbidden City located somewhere in Beijing. UNESCO protects this place where several generations of Chinese emperors have lived since the mid-1420. What a striking resemblance we have!
Mount Saint-Michel, Normandy (Tangled)
Before embarking on the concept art of Tangled, Laurent Ben-Mimoun French artist explored many castles. As a result, he recreated the Renaissance castle where Rapunzel lived, and Mount Saint-Michel in Normandy became the main landmark of the story. Laurent Ben-Mimoun offers a great combination of ancient architecture and modern culture.
Samoa Islands (Moana)
The magnificent mountain landscapes and nature depicted exactly copy the South Pacific Ocean. The directors of the cartoon (Ron Clements, Jon Musker) did some research in Samoa and Tonga to get all the information they needed. That allowed them to create an authentic atmosphere and a fictional island of MotuNui that became home to Moana and her people.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands (Brave)
Scotland is a unique country with beautiful landscapes and ancient structures. For this reason, the creative team behind Brave began looking for images to create a suitable castle for the main character. They visited several parts of Scotland and then created DubBroch Castle in the style of Urquhart Castle located near Loch Ness. However, DubBroch’s interior was taken from the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
In fact, this is not surprising. The directors even chose an appropriate name for their cartoon. Thus, the Cathédrale Notre Dame located in Paris was taken as a basis. It is noteworthy that the structure is depicted before the fire, which caused great damage to its unique architecture and design. The Hunchback accurately conveys the real building with all buttresses and gargoyles in mind.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India (Aladdin)
Even though the events take place far from India, the main palace resembles the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra. Viewers found another similarity. Taj Mahal is considered not a palace but the tomb of the Sultan built for his wife who died early. It is noteworthy that Aladdin’s sultan is a widower too. Jasmine considers this palace to be her prison, from which she wants to escape.
Château de Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland (The Little Mermaid)
Since the Bronze Age, the Chateau de Chillon has been used as a prison, arsenal, powerful fortress, and the count’s residence. That’s why Disney wanted to use its greatness and imagery in at least one cartoon. As a result, Château de Chillon became the home of Prince Eric.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Sleeping Beauty)
If you ever visit Neuschwanstein Castle, you will notice with the naked eye its similarities to the castle depicted in the Sleeping Beauty cartoon. During another trip by Europe, Neuschwanstein Castle impressed Mr. Walt Disney so much, and he portrayed it not only in cartoons but also in several Disneyland parks.