Places In Disney Movies You Didn’t Realize Were Based On Real Life

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Places In Disney Movies You Didn’t Realize Were Based On Real Life
Voting Rules
Vote up the magical locations you didn't realize were inspired by a real-life place.

Disney movies are filled with magical locations, many of which seem like they came straight from a fantasy world. But while these Disney locales certainly have fantastical elements, it's not uncommon for the production teams to take inspiration from the real world

If you've seen Encanto, you've also seen the gorgeous rainbow river. That's based on the River of Five Colors, a real river in Columbia. Would you rather see a real-life Coco than a real-life Encanto? Then head to Guanajuato, Mexico. Want to visit the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast? Head to the Chateau de Chambord, which is a short trip away from Paris. Wish you could see Pride Rock? You can see a version of it at Kenya's Hell’s Gate National Park.

The fact that these films are inspired by real-world locations makes them feel even more magical. Which one is your favorite?  

  • 1
    94 VOTES

    The Ring Of Stones From ‘Brave’ Was Inspired By The Calanais Standing Stones In Scotland

    In order to get a feel for the environment they'd be working off of, Pixar's Brave team traveled to Scotland. One of the spots that inspired them the most was the Calanais Standing Stones. This structure was created over 5,000 years ago. No one knows for sure what its purpose was, but many believe they were used to observe the stars - or were for religious rituals. 

    Brave's Ring of Stones was directly inspired by the Standing Stones. These stones were the site of Elinor and Mor'du's fight and the place where Merida first encountered the Will O' the Wisps.

    94 votes
  • 2
    99 VOTES

    The Magical River From ‘Encanto’ Resembles Colombia’s ‘River Of Five Colors’

    Encanto takes place in Columbia. Its cultural and visual ties to this real-world location are part of what makes the film so incredible. One of the most stunning examples of this is the rainbow-colored river that appears in the film. This is actually a real spot called the River of Five Colors. Also known as Caño Cristales, this 100-kilometer combination of streams, rivers, and waterfalls is a natural wonder.

    The riverbed is lined with a moss called Macarenia clavigera. This moss is dark green throughout most of the year, but during the rainy season, it transforms into a vibrant spectrum of purple, fuchsia, pink, yellow, and green. Because the exact colors are determined by water levels in the river and the amount of sunlight the moss is exposed to, the colors are different each year. 

    99 votes
  • 3
    78 VOTES

    Island Kingdom In 'Tangled' Was Inspired By Mont-Saint-Michel

    If you want a name to associate with the kingdom from Tangled that isn't as unfortunate as Corona, try Mont-Saint-Michel. This is the real island off the coast of Normandy that the movie kingdom is inspired by. The island only has about 30 residents, but it's a major tourist destination with over three million visitors every year.

    Its most notable feature is the abbey, which was constructed over 1,000 years ago. Because it's accessible from Normandy by foot during low tide but difficult to access during high tide, it was an ideal sanctuary for refugees. 

    78 votes
  • 4
    68 VOTES

    Kokaua From 'Lilo & Stitch' Is Basically Hanapepe

    Though it isn't named until Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lilo & Stitch takes place in a fictional Hawaiian town called Kokaua. Kokaua is modeled after a town on the island of Kauai called Hanapepe. 

    It's a small beach town with about 2,600 residents. Its architecture is largely plantation-style, with many of the older buildings housing art galleries and restaurants. The town celebrates its connection with Lilo & Stitch with a mural featuring the Disney characters. 

    68 votes
  • 5
    57 VOTES

    Game Central Station From 'Wreck-It Ralph' Is A Take On NYC's Grand Central

    Game Central Station is a hub for Litwak's Arcade. It's a place where characters from different video games can meet each other, socialize, and travel from game to game. They travel using trains that represent the games in question. If a game is unplugged, its residents resemble unhoused people who are often seen in big cities. 

    It's clearly modeled off of Grand Central Station in New York City. The station has a number of restaurants, shops, and events that provide socializing opportunities, but it's also a major transportation hub where people can access both the NYC subway system and the Metro-North Railroad. 

    57 votes
  • 6
    51 VOTES

    The Queen's Castle In 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' Is A Near Replica Of A Spanish Castle

    The Queen's Castle looks like a perfect fairy tale location from the outside, but on the inside, it hides disturbing secrets like a dungeon and a laboratory. This makes perfect sense for the villainous queen, and it also might explain why the castle is nearly identical to Alcázar of Segovia.

    Alcázar of Segovia is a Spanish castle built during the medieval period. Though it was originally designed like a fortress, it has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College, and a military academy. Today, it's a museum and military archive. The 100+ years that it was used as a prison makes it an interesting model for a castle belonging to a fictional villain, and its overall grandiosity is fit for a queen. 

    51 votes