Ever since Disney released its first movie in 1937, the American entertainment company has taken the animated world by storm and has stolen the hearts of many. From the impenetrable bond of sisterhood in Frozen to the tackling of gender roles in Brave, Disney has taught us many important life lessons over the years as we have fallen in love with the images on screen.
Although these stories are fairytales, the locations used are almost always based on real-life destinations, those of which can be visited today!
When planning your next family vacation, be sure to check out these 5 destinations to see your favorite Disney movies come to life.
The Princess and the Frog: New Orleans, USA
The Princess and the Frog, loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale ‘The Frog Prince’, gave us a relatable, modern-day hero who works hard to accomplish her goals. The story follows Tiana around New Orleans as she is transformed into a frog and must find a way to return to human form before it is too late. Throughout the film, we are taken on a journey through the bustling streets and swamps of New Orleans, which is paired with the local music, food, and colors for a story we will never forget!
Beauty and the Beast: Alsace, France
Disney’s 1991 animated romantic musical, Beauty and the Beast, remains a ‘tale as old as time’ as we were taught that true beauty comes from within. During the opening song of the film, we are exposed to a small, cozy French village made up of wooden-frame buildings and cobblestone streets. This village was inspired after the town of Colmar, which is located in the French region of Alsace, only 20 minutes from the German border. Boasting canals lined with half-timbered early Renaissance buildings, the charming town of Colmar is a must-visit for those looking to discover the quiet life of the Alsatians while chasing your Disney dreams.
Frozen: Akershus Fortress, Oslo, Norway
Released in 2013, Disney’s Frozen was the highest-grossing animated film of all time and stole all of our hearts with its lovable characters, unique story and a captivating soundtrack. Although Arendelle, the film’s starting location, may be fictional, Elsa and Anna’s castle was inspired by the Norwegian Akershus Fortress. Guided walking tours are available to learn all about the secrets of the 500-year-old fortress. Frozen fans should also visit St. Olaf’s Church in Balestrand, Norway, which was the model for the chapel during Elsa’s coronation scene and, of course, the inspiration behind the name of everyone’s favorite snowman.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
The iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral is a Disney lover’s must-see when visiting France. The story of Quasimodo, the disfigured bell-ringer of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, exposed the undeniable beauty and magnificence of Gothic architecture in Disney’s 1995 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame while teaching us the importance of looking beyond appearances. Unfortunately, earlier this year the cathedral was destroyed by a devastating fire, but more than $1 billion has been pledged to restore the cathedral to its former glory.
Aladdin: Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Set in the fictional city of Agrabah near the River Jordan, Disney’s original 1992 film, Aladdin, enchanted us all with its dynamic characters and magical tale. Although the city portrayed in the film is not real, the sultan’s palace is identical to that of the iconic Taj Mahal. Often mistaken for a temple or palace, the Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum that was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan to honor his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. As one of the New7Wonders of the World and one of the most exquisite structures ever built, this renowned monument is a must-see for architects and Disney fans alike.