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1. Hotel De Glace, Quebec City, Canada: Frozen
At Quebec’s famed Hotel de Glace, guests can sleep on an ice bed, sip hot chocolate while sitting on ice benches and even say “I do” in an ice chapel – sounds like the perfect home for a princess with the power to freeze things, no? In fact, Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee did indeed visit the hotel while coming up with the design for Else’a Ice Palace. Now, there are even Frozen ice and snow sculptures in the hotel – including one of Olaf!
2. Machu Picchu, Peru: The Emperor's New Groove
Wonder why Emperor Kuzco thought Pacha’s hilltop village was the ideal spot for his elaborate summer vacation home Kuzcotopia? Perhaps because it was inspired by Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city situated atop a similarly pointed mountain. The emperor’s name is also no coincidence: Machu Picchu is located in Peru’s Cusco region.
3. Mont Saint-Michel, Normany, France: Tangled
Corona, the island castle home of Rapunzel’s parents in Tangled, seems too magical to be real, but according to Disney art director Laurent Ben-Mimoun, it’s based on Mont Saint-Michel, a seaside castle in Normandy, France. We’ll assume you don’t have to climb a pile of hair to reach the towers.
4. Angel's Falls, Venezuela: Up
5. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany: Sleeping Beauty
Recognize those spires and turrets? Once the residence of King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein is now better known as the home of the fictional Princess Aurora. In fact, the iconic structure, which Walt Disney himself toured during a trip to Bavaria, is often referred to by visitors as the “Sleeping Beauty” castle. The actual interior, however, is far more elaborate than what Disney’s animators dreamed up.
6. Chateau De Chambord, Loire Valley, France: Beauty and the Beast
If you have to be locked away with a (lovable) beast, it might as well be here! The creature’s elaborate, cursed hideaway is modeled after this stunning French Renaissance-style castle, the Chateau de Chambord, in France’s Loire Valley. And just like in Beauty and the Beast, the castle is surrounded by a dense, tree-filled forest – the biggest in Europe. Perfect for keeping out all outsiders – except ones with the power to break a curse, non?
7. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland: Brave
With its lush greenery and imposing stone, the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, nestled between the Scottish Highlands and the Loch Duich, looks like something out of a fable – which is why it was the perfect model for Brave‘s DunBroch Castle, home to red-haired heroine Princess Merida. Legend has it that the grand table the young royal dined at with her family was based on the one found in the Banqueting Hall at Eilean Donan.
8. Forbidden City, Beijing, China: Mulan
Built in 1420, the imperial palace was immortalized on film in Disney’s 1998 movie set during the Han Dynasty. Still following us? Good. The structure, which served as the home of the Emperor in the animated tale, is now a museum, where visitors can view over 5,000 years of Chinese art and artifacts – and act out the Emperor’s famous “thank you” to Mulan on the structure’s steps.
9. Chateau De Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland: The Little Mermaid
10. Taj Mahal, India: Aladdin
If you thought the imposing domes looked familiar, it’s because the home of Aladdin‘s Princess Jasmine and Rajah the tiger was actually inspired by the world-famous mausoleum. While you won’t find any genies at the massive UNESCO World Heritage site, the white marble structure and elaborate detailing hold plenty of magic.
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