Disney movies have always been an important part of our lives. Most kids used to love singing all the songs, while dreaming about being like a real princess or character and imagining living in those beautiful castles. But did you know that to come face to face with these magical ambiences you don’t even need to wish upon a star to enter the cinema screen? Some places that appear in Disney movies were hugely inspired by real life cities and constructions! So here’s a list of 10 magical places that actually exist - and, after the pandemic, you can visit and really feel like a Disney star! So, while you can't go there in person, just check the list below, grab your magic carpet and be prepared to a virtual tour around the world!
- Mont Saint-Michel, France (Tangled)
In 2010, Laurent Ben-Mimoun, a famous art designer, gave an interview to a website called Animate Views, in which he said that he was the responsible for the aesthetic of Tangled. Besides that, Laurent confirmed that his main influence while making the kingdom of Corona in the movie was a monastery construction situated on Mont Saint-Michel. This French ambience is located in the north of the country (Normandia) and is considered one of UNESCO's world heritages.
- Château de Chambord, France (The Beauty and The Beast)
Yes, the Beast’s breathtaking castle is available to visit! Some of the rooms were changed by CGI for the live-action movie released in 2017, but the essence definitely remains and it is easy to see many similarities. The castle was constructed in 1519 and is still one of the most beautiful constructions in the world! In real life, Beast’s mansion is as enormous as it is in the movie: It has more than 120 meters of facade, 800 sculpted columns and a decoration inspired by the French Renaissance.
Oh, and more: The small village where Belle lived with her father in the beginning of the movie accurately portrays the picturesque region of northwest France, where it is common to see alleys, medieval stone buildings and shacks in various colors!
- Cliveden House Clock Tower, England (Cinderella)
One of the most spectacular scenes from Cinderella’s live action movie is real and available to visit too! The Clock Tower, part of the Cliveden Palace in Buckinghamshire, is shown when the twelve strokes that mark midnight start ringing in the night, reminding Ella that she has to go home before all the magic runs out. It is also there where she loses her famous cristal slippers. You can re-watch this unforgettable scene in this YouTube video!
- Big Ben, England (Peter Pan)
To be honest, it is almost impossible to see the famous tower in England without remembering Peter, Wendy, John and Michael landing in the minute hand while heading to Neverland. The clock, which is more than 90 meters high, was installed in the Westminster Palace, London, in 1859 and is still one of the most touristic places in the world. Since December 31st, 1923, the BBC radio broadcasts the chimes of Big Ben every single day.
- Angel Falls, Venezuela (Up!)
Carl Frederiksen’s biggest desire is to visit the South American forest where he and his dead wife, Ellie, always dreamt of living. The inspiration for the movie was The Angel Falls, a stunning waterfall from the Canaima National Park, in Venezuela. It is the highest waterfall in the world, with an area that is larger than Belgium! Some tourists say that going there is the same as getting inside the movie. Amazing, right?!
- Dunnottar Castle, Scotland (Brave)
Merida’s castle is one of the oldest and most beautiful palaces in history! Located in the northeast of Scotland, the castle was built in 1392 and played an essential role in the country's history: in the Middle Ages, due to its strategic location, it allowed an accurate vigilance of the movement of physical coastal ships, as well as land movements. Currently in ruins, it is privately owned, but before the pandemic it was still opened to the public, being visited by elderly tourists every year!
- Château de Chillon, Switzerland (The Little Mermaid)
Prince Eric’s castle is almost identical to the one in real life, in Switzerland. Located on the beach, the palace is the most visited and known Swiss castle. It is not possible to date its exactly year of construction, but the first written records of the castle are from 1150. Nowadays, it’s considered a historical monument and receives thousands of tourists every year. A perfect place to find a mermaid lying in the sand!
- Taj Mahal, India (Aladdin)
It is easy to fall in love with the story of Aladdin, one of the most famous Disney movies and a great love story. The movie takes place in the fictional reign in Arabia, Agrabah, but the sultan’s palace was actually inspired by the Indian construction, Taj Mahal. They have a little difference, but are equally beautiful!
- The Forbidden City in Beijing, China (Mulan)
One of Disney’s most girl power movies, Mulan tells the story of a princess who wants to live freely and on her own terms. Actually, Mulan’s home is a real place! Located in Beijing, the palace was built in 1406 and still receives a lot of visitors every year.
- New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (The Princess and The Frog)
Tiana, from The Princess and The Frog, was Disney’s first black princess and has an amazing background story. Involving dreams, self-confidence, love and even a villain involved with voodoo, the animation takes place in New Orleans, an old city in the state of Louisiana. This city is known around the world by being the crib of Jazz music - exactly because of it, the film’s soundtrack is so inspired by this contagious musical style! People use to say that going there is like traveling back in time, which is surely amazing! If you would like to see New Orleans in real life, just click here.
So, have you ever visited one of these places? If not, which of them are you more excited about knowing after this pandemic? Well, the good thing is that, even if you can’t visit these places personally, you can use the list to re-watch all your favorite Disney movies and, equally, travel everywhere your imagination allows! After all, Disney is about turning any place into your own magical castle, right?
The article above was edited by Helena Cardoso.
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