If you’ve been mesmerized by the Magic of Disney on the big screen, there are a few places to vacation where you can relive the experience in reality.
As it happens, many of the media giant’s Stunning visuals across its numerous blockbusters over the decades have been inspired by real locations. Leaving out the parks, these handful of sites are the closest you can get to experience the magic of Disney in real life.
Disney has long taken inspiration from picturesque real-life locations to dazzle audiences with an enhanced digital experience in its movies. For those of us who grew up on a healthy dose of media from the House of Mouse, an uninformed visit to these locations cannot help but give rise to feelings of deja vu, accompanied by sweet nostalgia all the same.
In this article, we dive deep into some locations that have inspired iconic scenes and still seem straight out of the best places to vacation.
Want More Disney? Check Out This List of Disney Locations
While nothing beats the real thing, Disney does a remarkable job at bringing its characters and cinematic experiences to life at its popular international theme parks.
There are currently 12 Disney Parks places to vacation located in various major cities worldwide, with six being Disneyland-style ‘Castle Parks’ and the other six having different themes.
Here is a list of Disney locations around the world:
- Disneyland Resort – California
- Walt Disney World Resort – Florida
- Disney Resort – Tokyo
- Disneyland – Paris
- Disneyland – Hong Kong
- Disney Resort – Shanghai
1. The Great Barrier Reef In Australia
The few best places to vacation on Earth are as exquisite and awe-inspiring as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The 1,600-mile 500 million years old reef that attracts millions of tourists each year houses and supports a thriving ecosystem of 100s of thousands of plants and animal species. Still, at first sight, it reminds of an iconic visual that many millennials and Gen-Zers are all too familiar with.
Even though the reef has been a popular place to visit for decades, it really stuck in the minds of kids and adults all over the world when the animated movie Finding Nemo came out in 2004.
In the movie, the stunning representation of the reef in all its splendour and glory served as a home for Marlin, Nemo, and Dory, while inspiring global conservation efforts ever since.
2. Pride Rock In Serengeti National Park
Another iconic scene embedded in a viewer’s psyche is the sequence that first saw Simba being introduced to the Pride Landers by Rafiki in the first Lion King movie.
Apart from serving as the home of the reigning monarch and his pride, it served as the best place to vacation or gathered for all the forest dwellers to discuss issues and conduct official business.
The real inspiration for Pride Rock lies deep in the heart of the Serengeti, which inspired many visual and storytelling features of the Lion King movies. Fantastic Places to vacation Located in Kenya, it now serves as a popular sundowner spot with many lodges and resorts surrounding it. It remains a must-visit spot for safari-goers and other tourists in the country.
3. The Callanish Stones In Scotland
Disney’s 2012 Brave was a testament to its attention to detail, animation prowess, and captivating storylines. While the movie makers have extensively researched real-world locations, customs, and practices for making this movie, one place that stood out the most was its Ring of Stones, which served as a backdrop for the showdown between Elinor and Mor’du.
The Callanish Standing Stones inspired the Ring of Stones in the UK, erected roughly 5,000 years ago to perform rituals and predate even the famous Stonehenge.
This monumental historic site has extensive and often contrasting folklore behind it and has since received its share of recognition from pop culture, with Outlander and the Last Highlander mentioning it, apart from Brave.
4. Mont Saint-Michel In France
A glance at this 15th-century tidal island and mainland commune should get the butter churning for most Disney fans. While it is not too obvious, it helped inspire the town and castle in the 2010 hit movie, Tangled.
It serves as the castle for Rapunzel, and even though the court in the movie borrows from several different castles and builds on it, the essence remains the Mont Saint-Michel.
This has long been a significant pilgrimage destination within Europe. It is famous for its accessibility during low tides, with the high waves capable of stranding or driving off would-be assailants.
The medieval Christian site has over 60 buildings and receives over 3 million visitors each year; and has since been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, given its unique architecture and aesthetics.
5. The Taj Mahal In India
There is hardly a soul who fails to recognize the Taj Mahal, the undisputed symbol of an eternal love story that stands tall and shines brightly till this day, nearly 400 years after it was unveiled. Built at an estimated cost of $1 billion at the time, the monument rightfully serves as one of the Seven Wonders of The World, apart from being a universally admired masterpiece in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Considered to be a marvel of Islamic art and architecture, it has helped inspire many works of art and artists over the years. The most recent one is Sultan’s palace in Disney’s 1992 movie, Aladdin.
While it’s difficult to see it at first glance, the resemblance becomes uncanny within a few minutes, despite the contrasting colours and a somewhat absurdist take on the art and architecture.
The Kingdom of Disney continues to deliver magic to inspire and entertain millions of children worldwide. As we grow up, we can still reignite the magic and keep it alive by travelling to these idyllic, picturesque, and exquisite locations that made our childhoods much more special.