The real places that inspired the Disney movies
"Once upon a time, long ago, in a kingdom far away..." They all begin more or less like this the fairy tales of our childhood, and immediately our head began to wander with the imagination, among mysterious enchanted forests, magical castles and exotic places reachable only with the power of imagination. From the pages of a book to the big screen, those once unimagined places have come alive thanks to the celluloid fairy tales by Disney. Yet in these cartoons there is almost nothing invented. The castle of Sleeping Beauty, the Paradise Falls in Up, the ice castle of Elsa in Frozen: these are not just places of fantasy. Some of the most beautiful locations we have admired in Walt Disney's animated films, in fact, are inspired by places that also exist in real life and can be visited!
Maybe for its particular shape or for its scenic location (at the foot of a mountain not far from a lake stands majestically on the edge of a dizzying gorge), but Walt Disney was so fascinated by Neuschwanstein Castle that he took it as a model not only for "Cinderella" but also for "Sleeping Beauty in the Woods"; the castle, built at the end of the 19th century, is located in the area of Fussen, almost on the border with Austria. Symbol of Bavaria and Germany in the world, it has also become the symbol of Disneyland amusement parks. From one castle to another: the castle of the Queen of "Snow White" is inspired by the Alcaázar in Segovia, Spain. It began as a fortress, but was also the seat of Spanish royalty and a military academy. Its particularity is that it rises above a rocky spur which gives even more grandeur to the whole structure.
The beautiful castle of "Rapunzel (Tangled)" on the other hand is inspired by the particular shape of the picturesque islet Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France. About 2 km from Stonehaven, Scotland, on a rocky spur overlooking the sea is the castle of Dunnottar, which is none other than the castle of the DunBroch clan, the family of the protagonist of "Brave" Merida. If instead you have been fascinated by the icy atmosphere of "Frozen" and then the destinations of your trip will be Quebec City, Canada, the Hotel de Glace, a hotel built entirely out of ice and the Icehotel in Sweden! It is located in Jukkasjärvi and was the first ice hotel in the world! Every year it is built with ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River, on the occasion of the annual ice sculpture festival. You can sleep in this particular hotel only from December to April and every year it hosts about 50,000 visitors.
When Ariel, the Little Mermaid with the long red hair, looks at her beloved prince from the sea, she is right in front of Chillon Castle, located on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The fortress has a great peculiarity: it consists of twenty-five independent buildings that were joined together into a single structure. Its red roofs and round towers are the unmistakable feature of the residence where the beloved Prince Eric of Ariel lived!
The story of Peter Pan, the child who didn't want to grow up and flew to Neverland, born from the pen of the Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie, begins in the city of London, and to be exact in the district of Bloomsbury, where Wendy's house was located. The first images of the film fly over the English capital at night, covered by a thick blanket of fog. From here you can admire Tower Bridge (one of the places I love the most!) and a little further on you can see the figure of the Tower of London. The Bloomsbury district really exists and has always been considered one of the most important cultural and artistic centres. Here lived artists such as John Constable, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf. Because of its cultural value it also hosts important museums such as the British Museum and historical bookshops. In a scene from the film Peter poses in the company of Wendy on the hands of a giant clock! Yes, that's him: Big Ben, one of the most famous places in the English capital! You can see the statue of Peter Pan on your way to Kensington Gardens.
"The Emperor's New Groove" was not a great success (perhaps because it was released in cinemas in the summer, when fewer people go to the cinema), but the story of this egocentric sovereign is set in Peru. "The Singing Hills" where he wants to place his personal swimming pool for the Cuscotopia project are none other than the mountains of Machu Picchu, where the farmer Pacha has had his house for generations! Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city that rises in the Andean mountains and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Thanks to the cliffs that surrounded it, it was the perfect place to defend against possible enemy attacks. The city then fell into neglect and was forgotten. It was rediscovered on July 24, 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a Yale historian, who was exploring the old Inca streets of the area in search of the last capital city: Vilcabamba.
The place inspired the rock of the "Lion King" is the Serengeti Park in Kenya. Here is a rock that is very reminiscent of the Pride Rock in the film. From Africa to South America, and precisely Venezuela, in the Parque Nacional de Canaima, where the Angel waterfall, the highest in the world, is located. A celestial name just like the Paradise Falls that the sprightly old man Carl Fredricksen dreams of reaching in the animated film "Up".
Let's move to India, in Agra, in front of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and declared one of the 7 wonders of the world. The mausoleum that the mogul emperor Shah Jahan had built in memory of his favourite wife seems to have inspired the film "Aladdin", becoming even the Sultan's Palace.
Have you and your language exchange friends ever been to one of the places that inspired the Disney films? Let us know in the comments!
- 15 Aug, 2020
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