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Real-Life Places That Are Behind Our Favorite Disney Movies

Walt Disney Studios has been the force behind some of the most enduring and beloved animated films of all time. Although Disney movies often tell stories of places "far, far away," in reality — they're actually much closer to home than some would think.

Below is a list of real-life places that have inspired some of our favorite Disney movies. If you, like me, have ever dreamed of dipping your toes into the waters of Prince Eric's lagoon or have longed to see the viewpoint from Princess Aurora's castle, now is your chance.

The Kingdom of Corona in 'Tangled' has a lot in common with Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France.

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France.
Unsplash | Gilles DETOT

Both Corona and Mont Saint-Michel are two kingdoms surrounded by the sea. Needless to say that Rapunzel would've felt right at home here.

Princess Aurora's castle in 'Sleeping Beauty' was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.
Unsplash | Mathias Konrath

Ironically enough, Neuschwanstein Castle also served as the inspiration for Cinderella's castle in the Disney animated classic of the same name. Considering its breathtaking scenery and iconic architecture, it isn't hard to imagine why.

The Cathedral in 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame' and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France are one and the same.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
Unsplash | Kayla Koss

I suppose that this one was kind of a dead giveaway. Notre Dame caught fire back in 2019 and is due to reopen sometime in 2024 if all goes according to plan.

The Emperor's palace in 'Mulan' was based on the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

The Forbidden City in Beijing.
Unsplash | __ drz __

The influence of China's architecture is blatantly obvious when you look at the Emperor's palace in Mulan. The film is also based on the ancient Chinese legend of Hua Mulan.

DunBroch Castle in 'Brave' is barely distinguishable from Eilean Donan Castle located in the Scottish highlands.

Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland.
instagram | @radeken

Just like DunBroch Castle in Brave, Eilean Donan Castle overlooks the hills of the Scottish highlands and is nestled right against the rolling sea.

The wedding venue in 'The Princess And The Frog' was made to look just like the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisianna.

St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
instagram | @robinsoka

The next time you plan a trip to the Big Easy, be sure to check out this sight-seeing itinerary and witness the city through the eyes of Princess Tiana.

The Palace of the Sultan in 'Aladdin' looks just like the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

The Taj Mahal.
Unsplash | AussieActive

The Sultan's palace Aladdin resides in the city of Agrabah. The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, India. Coincidence? I am inclined to think not.

The Beast's castle in 'Beauty And The Beast' was designed after the Château de Chambord in Chambord, France.

View of the Château de Chambord in France.
Unsplash | Antonin Carvalho

Be our guest and visit the Château de Chambord for a true taste of what Belle must've experienced as she pined for freedom while locked away in the Beast's dungeon. Be sure to stay out of the west wing, though.

Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru was the inspiration for Pacha's village in 'The Emperor's New Groove'.

Machu Pichu, Peru.
Unsplash | Wells Baum

Is it just me or do Pacha and Picchu sound eerily alike? Also, the character Kuzco (voiced by David Spade) seems to take his name from Cusco — the city wherein Machu Picchu is located.

Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya served as the basis for Pride Rock in 'The Lion King'.

Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya.
instagram | @_dreadlox

I'm starting to get a strong sense of deja vu. Call me crazy, but this canyon looks all but identical to the one wherein Mufasa lost his life.

Angkor Wat in Angkor, Cambodia helped animators envision what Atlantis must've looked like in 'Atlantis: The Lost Empire'.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Unsplash | Paul Szewczyk

Much like some scientists believe Atlantis to be, Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a jungle city lost to the annals of time.

Belle's hometown in 'Beauty And The Beast' is the spitting image of Alsace, France.

Alsace, France main square.
instagram | @eevelyntomeka

Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour! I can almost hear Belle's voice as she ever so passive-aggressively rails against the trappings of her provincial life in the foothills of the Basque country.

Primrose Hill in London, England looks just like the flat where Rodger and Anita lived in '101 Dalmations'.

Primrose Hill in London, England.
Unsplash | Anthony Bressy

The colorful facades of Primrose Hill's various rowhouses no doubt served as a muse for Rodger Radcliffe's earworm "Cruella de Vil"

The Evil Queen's castle in 'Snow White' bears a striking resemblance to Segovia Castle in Spain.

Segovia Castle in Spain.
Unsplash | Diego Allen

Walt Disney has confirmed that the Evil Queen's castle was inspired by the great castles of Europe. However, after a quick examination of the Segovia Castle in Spain — it isn't hard to figure out which one they're referring to.

Prince Eric's castle in 'The Little Mermaid' was inspired by Chateau de Chillon in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

Chateau de Chillon in Lake Geneva, Switzerland
instagram | @traveling_life_1976

If you happen to visit Chateau de Chillon at the right time, you just might be lucky enough to witness a mermaid sunning herself by the rocks in the cool waters.