Real-life magical places that influenced Disney movies

Posted by Imogen on 4 January 2019 Tags:, ,

The Walt Disney Studios has created some of the world’s most beloved films over the years.

Each story brings imaginary worlds filled with excitement, adventure and fairytales to life.

The artistic talent and creativity behind these films have often been inspired by real-life locations—some of which are even quite close to home.

The Lion King: inspired by the Serengeti, Tanzania


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Our next stop is Pemba Island … a small island in the Indian Ocean … no wifi or cell service so I won’t be bugging you for awhile #safariAri #adventuresofsummerandari

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Animators were sent to observe the Serengeti and its colours, animals, landscapes and sunsets in order to capture the essence of the place as authentically as possible.

The Serengeti has the highest lion population in Africa, so its no wonder Disney sought out this location as the inspiration and setting of Simba’s story.

Tarzan: inspired by Cameroon

Tarzan of the Apes, a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs that was first published in 1912, was what inspired Disney to create Tarzan.

Disney never confirmed that Cameroon was the particular location the movie’s jungle setting was based on, yet the gorillas, lush rainforests and diverse wildlife seem to be more than just coincidental.

Beauty and the Beast: inspired by Château de Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France

It’s clear to see how Château de Chambord inspired the original 1991 animation and recent live action retelling of this fairytale Disney film. With its exquisite Renaissance architecture, the Château has become a popular tourist destination and is open daily for tours.

Hercules: inspired by Athens, Greece


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The Erechtheion stands on Athens acropolis, and is considered the most sacred part of the location. This is because of the ‘sacred tokens’ which take residency at this temple, one is the hole on the north porch roof which is thought to be a mark from Poseidon’s trident, and the other is an olive tree which was gifted by Athena. The eastern part of temple was dedicated to Athena, whereas the western part was dedicated to local hero’s. The most celebrated part of the temple however is the south porch, where the Caryatids stand. These six statues double as columns to support the roof and are depicted wearing a clinging peplos and himation. . . . . . #art #history #arthistory #greece #acropolis #athens #caryatids

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Given this film’s strong Greek mythology theme, it is only fitting that its setting was inspired by the ancient city of Athens.

Mulan: inspired by the Forbidden City, China


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Previously the seat of the Chinese imperial palace for half a century, the Forbidden City was felt to be a suitable setting for Mulan, wherein the heroine defeated the HunsThe Forbidden City is now a palace museum for tourists to visit.

For other real-life places that inspired Disney movies, watch below:


Image: Pixabay

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