The classic Disney animations have provided an escape into worlds of fantasy for generations of viewers. They’re often set in magical realms where princesses are placed under spells, princes fight dragons, animals talk, and the entire population can mysteriously sing in key. It’s sometimes hard to believe that many of our favorite Disney movies are set in real locations—many of which we can actually visit!
While the real-life destinations where Disney movies were set might not be home to sorcerers and witches, they are often as beautiful as they’re depicted in the animations. Read below to find out where these 10 Disney movies were set.
10 The Lion King: Kenya/Tanzania
Everybody’s favorite story about lions may be a work of fiction, but it is set in a very real location. We know that The Lion King is set in either Kenya or Tanzania from the presence of Mount Kilimanjaro in the scenery.
Although the iconic mountain is located entirely within Tanzanian soil, it is situated close to the border between Tanzania and Kenya. You can see it from both countries, so The Lion King could be set in either one. You can travel to both Kenya and Tanzania to walk in the footsteps of Simba!
9 Lilo & Stitch: Hawaii, USA
It doesn’t take a genius to work out where Lilo and Stitch is set! Lilo isn’t technically a Disney princess, but she is the first Disney main character to be Hawaiian. The film takes place on the island of Kauai, which happens to be the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is also referred to as the Garden Island thanks to its luscious landscape, which is obvious in the movie.
In recent years, another Disney production set its story in Polynesia. Moana is the first Disney film to feature an islander princess.
8 The Princess And The Frog: New Orleans, USA
The setting of The Princess and the Frog is part of what makes this retelling of an age-old fairytale so magical. The Disney version of events is set in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is here that Tiana is working as a waitress, dreaming of opening her own restaurant one day.
As Tiana sets off on an adventure with Prince Naveen, we get to see beautiful landscape that is so typical of Louisiana and the rest of the South in general. The soundtrack is also heavily influenced by classic Southern genres like jazz and blues.
7 Peter Pan: London, England
The majority of Peter Pan takes place on the island of Neverland. Sadly, we can’t visit and frolic with the mermaids the way we’d like to. But the beginning of the story is set in London, where the Darling children are left alone in their nursery for the night. Peter Pan comes to their house to collect his shadow and then takes the children back with him to Neverland.
As Peter, Tinkerbell, and the Darling children fly off to Neverland, we get to see the sleepy streets of the English capital from a bird’s-eye view, as well as the iconic landmark Big Ben. It's definitely a place Disney fans must visit!
6 The Aristocats: Paris, France
Even without the charming backdrop of cobblestone streets, quintessential cafes and period mansions, it wouldn’t be difficult to gather that The Aristocats is set in France. Thanks to characters being given such names as Toulouse, Berlioz, Roquefort, and Napoleon, it’s easy to tell!
Paris is where Madame lives alone in her mansion with Duchess the cat and her three kittens. Around half of the story is set in the idyllic French countryside, where the resentful butler Edgar abandons the cats in an attempt to secure Madame’s fortune for himself.
5 Finding Nemo: The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Finding Nemo follows the long journey that a clownfish embarks on to retrieve his son after he was stolen by divers. Little Nemo is taken to Sydney, Australia (in particular, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney), but originally, he lives with his dad in one of the most fascinating underwater eco-systems on the planet: The Great Barrier Reef.
Nemo’s home is located in the coral sea, just off the coast of the Australian state of Queensland. You can explore the reef through diving and snorkeling, although we doubt you’ll come across any talking clownfish!
4 The Little Mermaid: US Virgin Islands, Caribbean
In recent times, The Little Mermaid has been the subject of controversy over an actress of color being chosen to play the red-headed Ariel in the live-action remake. Some argue that since the original tale is the work of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, someone who resembles the cartoon version of Ariel—a European-looking Ariel—should have been cast.
Interestingly, the Disney version of the tale isn’t actually set in Denmark, but the Caribbean. Specifically, the inclusion of certain underwater scenery and sea creatures point to the fact that the story is set in the US Virgin Islands.
3 Robin Hood: Nottingham, England
The Disney adaptation of Robin Hood has a few differences from the original legend that’s been told around the British Isles for centuries. For one thing, the characters are animals rather than humans, with Robin being a fox and Prince John being a lion.
The film is still set in Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, even though many aspects of the story might make you think that it takes place in the United States. You can still visit Sherwood Forest today and see the Great Oak tree where Robin and his gang of outlaws are thought to have gathered.
2 The Sword In The Stone: England
Another Disney story to be set in England is The Sword in the Stone. This is an adaptation of the legend of King Arthur, though it follows his early years under the protection of the wizard Merlin and his journey to pulling Excalibur from the stone, rather than his time as ruler.
Where Arthur actually came from (if he did exist at all) is debated. The Disney version of the film is set in an unspecified location in England, but some historians believe that the legend of King Arthur actually originated in Wales.
1 Sleeping Beauty: France
It’s never specifically stated that Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty is set in France. We can make a pretty good guess that it is, though, because the Disney adaptation is based on Charles Perrault’s version of events.
Another big giveaway that the film is set in France is that the French national anthem is played to announce the arrival of Princess Aurora. We also see a lot of fleur-de-lis in the illustrations, which is a typical symbol of the Catholic saints of France. While we are reasonably sure that it’s set in France, we don’t know exactly where we can find Sleeping Beauty’s castle (other than maybe Disneyland Paris).