Have you recently been bitten by the travel bug? Ready to see the world? Well, then do we have some awesomeness to share with you. Some of your favorite locations from Disney films have their roots firmly planted in actual locations. After all, the filmmakers and animators have to get their inspiration from somewhere, right? Get close to the characters and stories you love on a Disney holiday experience; adventure is out there!
Angel Falls, Venezuela
It turns out that Angel Falls is the inspiration behind Disney and Pixar’s Paradise Falls in the film Up, not surprising at all considering it’s the highest waterfall in the world. The Churum river teeters over the top and free falls for a gut-wrenching 979 metres. Due to the sheer height, with the feeling of the peak being in the clouds, you would assume that this is where the falls got their name from – it was in actual fact named after adventurous pilot, Jimmy Angel. He first laid his eyes on the waterfall in 1933 when he was searching for The Golden City. It wasn’t until four years later that he retraced the journey and discovered the falls with an abrupt emergency landing on the top.
Their little ears will love to hear the heroic story of how Jimmy Angel landed on top of the falls, where his plane rested for 33 years. They’ll find the parallel between Jimmy Angel landing his plane, and the main character of Up – Carl Fredrickson landing his house atop the waterfall amusing. If they could float away in a house, where would the wind take them?
The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing on Earth that is visible from space, therefore the wide inspiration it has is only to be expected. This Marine Park was chosen to be the location used in Disney and Pixar’s collaboration, Finding Nemo. Stretching over 1800 miles you can expect to find around 1500 species of tropical fish, 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays, and even giant clams over 120 years old. This Wonder of The World is home to an abundance of marine life, including Clownfish – the species of fish used in Finding Nemo.
The Clownfish is only found within the warmer waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans – including northwest Australia, southeast Asia, Japan and the Indo-Malaysian region. The fish rely on sea anemone, living their lives together. They can only live in ten out of more than one thousand species of sea anemone, so once your little swimmers don their goggles expect them to find Nemo and all of his friends.
Alsace is within the Germanic region in France and over the last two centuries has passed back and forth from Germany to France. Once you walk the old lanes of the villages in this area, you’ll feel just like Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Located between the Rhine and Vosges mountains, you’ll find quaint painted timber buildings in a rainbow of colours.
These beautiful villages will transport your kids into a fairy tale world, where they will be able to see Belle’s village come to life before their very eyes. Historically the buildings were painted in specific colours so that buildings such as the bakeries, butchers and shoemakers were easily identifiable. Will the kids be able to guess which building used to serve which function?
Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
This island commune can be found in Normandy a mere 600m from land, boasting a minuscule population of around 44 people. Disney not only took inspiration from this location for their film Tangled, but the resemblance is pretty uncanny. The 247 acre island was previously structured with the abbey and monastery at the top, the stores and houses just below that, and the fishermen and farmers outside the wall.
This World Heritage Site attracts 3 million visitors a year. Within the film, the kingdom Corona is based on Mont Saint-Michel, and it’s the perfect mirror image. Watch the land of Corona unfold before their very eyes like Rapunzel’s hairs. The prison within the story of Tangled is an unlikely reminder that the island used to be used as a prison many years ago.
Louisiana Bayou, Louisiana
These swampy delights from New Orleans made an animated appearance in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. The wondrous setting transports visitors from reality to a mystical setting, making this the perfect setting for an animated film. The term “bayou” is said to have originated from the local Native American Tongue’s “bayuk”, meaning small stream.
As they make their way along the narrow streams encompassed with Spanish moss and distorted Cypress trees, they will feel as if they’ve delved into something that can’t be real, exploring the mysterious unknown. They’ll be able to spot prehistoric alligators, and even hear tales of the sightings of the legendary bigfoot.
Machu Picchu, Andes Mountains
Standing at 2430m above sea level, this is probably the highest Disney inspiration on our list. Built in the 15th century, the citadel was later abandoned when the Inca empire was conquered by the Spaniards, leaving many wondering why the mystery of why this city in the skies was built. The breathtaking views leave visitors in awe, which makes this the perfect destination for The Emperor’s New Groove.
It’s been a World Heritage Site since 1981, and Disney was inspired by this citadel when creating Pacha’s village in The Emperor’s New Groove. Animal friends and Disney fans alike will fall in love with this magical place, but will be blown away by llama spottings – could that be Kuzco?
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
King Ludwig II built this fairy-tale story to escape from public life, and it was only opened to the public after seven weeks after his death. Ludwig is often known as the fairy-tale king, with 1.4 million people visiting to witness the enchanting building ruling over the village of Hohenschwangau.
It is said that Walt Disney sought inspiration from this beautiful destination in creating the most symbolic image for Disney – The Magic Kingdom. It will transport Disney fans back through Disney history, as well as the castle’s, as they envisage Kings and Queens and Disney princesses walking the vast halls, side-by-side.
Cadillac Ranch, Texas
Although this looks a little disastrous, it was actually a planned artistic venture from a Texan millionaire called Stanley Marsh. In 1973 he invited a collective called the Ant Farm from San Francisco, where they created this piece with cars models ranging from the years 1948-1963. It was once rumoured that these cars were buried by a millionaire, he would lay one to rest before he got a new one.
If you look closely you’ll see the Cadillac Ranch appear as the Cadillac Range in Disney Pixar’s Cars – you’ll see mountain ranges in the back that look quite a lot like Cadillacs. If your little ones get the chance to visit, they’ll absolutely love the fact that they’ll be able to leave their mark upon one of the vehicles, so make sure you visit with marker pen in hand.