#1 Notre Dame Cathedral, ParisIf you have ever seen the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame you have seen the cathedral in the movie. The film takes place in Paris, France. The film’s creators visited the actual Notre Dame cathedral to get inspiration for the artwork. Much of the scenery in the film is very similar to real Notre Dame cathedral from the gargoyles to the stained glass. Even the iconic twin towers are exactly the same. Of the 10 Disney locations that exist in real life, this one is the most obvious because they share the same name. If you look at photos of them both, the resemblance is uncanny.
#2 Hotel De Glace, CanadaIn 2013, Disney released the movie Frozen and it became an instant success. The ice palace that Elsa lived in didn’t come from the artist’s creativity, it is actually inspired by a real location. Each year in Quebec, Canada, workers build the Hotel De Glace completely out of ice and snow. The hotel has several rooms furnished with ice furniture, a chapel, and bar, and a grand hall. Five years before the movie came out, the director, Chris Buck stayed at the hotel. The castle in Frozen is amazing, however, the fact that this castle actually exists and that it is really made of ice is even more amazing.
#3 Mont Saint-Michel, FranceIf you are ever going to be traveling to Normandy France to see the Mont Saint-Michel castle, you might feel like you are at the Kingdom of Corona from Rapunzel. While Rapunzel doesn’t live there, it really does look similar to the castle in the movie Tangled. The artists say that they got a great deal of their inspiration from this castle in France. It seems as though Disney really likes French architecture.
#4 Machu Picchu, PeruUp in the mountains of Peru is the ancient city of Machu Picchu. This city was built hundreds of years ago, and it is the inspiration for Disney’s The Emperor’s New Grove. The Disney team actually traveled to Peru and visited several destinations for their inspiration for the move. There are plenty of places in the movie that were inspired by the trip they took, but Machu Picchu is the most obvious.
#5 Alcazar of Segovia, SpainThis castle was built up high on a ridge in Spain and it looks like it should be in a fairy tale. The castle is so amazing that it influenced castles in two different Disney movies. This castle inspired the castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and in Cinderella. Disney artists thought that this castle was so impressive that it should be used twice. The castle was also built at Disneyland and Disney World.
#6 Shamrock, TexasWhen most people think about Disney locations they think about fancy castles. The movies’ creators don’t always come from royal locations. The inspiration from the movie Cars came from Shamrock, Texas in the United States. At the center of town is the U-Drop Inn Cafe. It is a restored gas station that Ramone’s Body Shop in the film is based on. It is also located on the historic and iconic road, Route 66. This was a very popular movie, and Disney created several cartoons that play on the Disney Channel. If you watch hard enough and if you have taken a road trip across America, you might actually recognize a few other places in the movie.
#7 Chateau De Chillon, SwitzerlandWhen it comes to inspiration for Disney castles, Disney didn’t forget to consider Switzerland. The Chateau De Chillon is located on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva. This place is so beautiful, it made its way into The Little Mermaid as Prince Eric’s castle. What makes it so obvious is that Prince Eric’s castle and the real life castle are on the shore of the water and it looks as though the castles are halfway in the water and halfway out of the water.
#8 Taj Mahal, IndiaTaj Mahal translates to “Crown of Palaces.” It is one of the most famous man-made structures on Earth. Because of this, Disney artists used it for inspiration when they created the palace in the 1992 film, Aladdin. The Taj Mahal is located in India and Aladdin took place in the Middle East, but it works and the palace in the film is amazing.
#9 Neuschwanstein Castle, GermanyIf you have seen Disney films or if you have traveled to the theme parks, you know that there is a castle in almost all of their stories. The iconic castle from the first Disney theme park was inspired by this castle in Germany. When Walt Disney was traveling through Europe he was so impressed by this castle, it became the design of Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland.
#10 Kenya and the Samburu DistrictIf you have ever seen Lion King, you have seen Simba sitting out on a rock that overlooks the Pride Lands. The inspiration for Pride Rock and the Pride Lands came from several different areas in Kenya. The artists also took some inspiration from the landscape around the Samburu District. Many people think that this rock was based on a rock in the Serengeti of Kenya, however, according to Lion King’s co-director, Roger Allen, this isn’t the case.