Many of the settings that are brought to life through Disney animations may be fictional, but the Disney princesses themselves do have real backgrounds, whether they are based on real people or they are totally imagined. Their heritage is often credited to the original author of the fairy tales and the culture that said author came from.
You might never be able to visit King Triton’s underwater Kingdom or the sweeping land of Arendelle, but you can check out these real-life destinations where the Disney princesses came from. Keep reading to find out where they are!
10 Aurora From Sleeping Beauty: France
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty doesn’t specifically state that it’s set in France; however, there are several clues throughout which certainly allude to that fact, including the playing of the French national anthem and the presence of the French symbol fleur-de-lis. So, it’s reasonable to assume that Princess Aurora comes from France.
Although there’s no specific destination in France where you can get close to Aurora’s roots, the country is scattered with castles. Visit locations like Chateau d’Angers and Castle Rouquetaillade and you’ll feel like you’ve landed at King Stephen’s palace!
9 Mulan From Mulan: China
While it’s debated whether Mulan ever really existed, we do know for a fact that the Disney version of the character comes from China. The film is set in the north of the country during the Sui dynasty when the population was under attack from the invading Huns. Mulan also features a couple of famous Chinese landmarks.
When visiting China, Disney fans and non-Disney fans alike flock to the Great Wall. Not only was this featured in the movie, but it’s one of the most impressive manmade landmarks on the planet.
8 Cinderella From Cinderella: France
It’s common knowledge that Cinderella is another Disney princess that hails from France. We can tell from the chateau, where she lives with her stepmother and stepsisters before marrying the prince. Also, the film is adapted from the classic tale written by Frenchman Charles Perrault.
Perrault is also responsible for several other fairy tales that are popular today, some of which have been also turned into classic animations by Disney. He is credited with writing Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Little Tom Thumb, and a later version of Sleeping Beauty.
7 Snow White From Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs: Germany
A classic story from the Brothers Grimm, most experts agree that Snow White comes from Germany. In the original German tale, the evil Queen, who is Snow White’s stepmother, is actually named Queen Grimhilde, giving away the story’s German heritage. There are a number of differences between the Disney version and the original tale, so it’s worth reading the original just to be surprised!
Interestingly, the stunning Bavarian castle known as Neuschwanstein Castle was actually the inspiration for another Disney princess’s home: Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland.
6 Merida From Brave: Scotland
If there’s one Disney princess that is very proud of where she comes from, it’s Merida. Living in medieval Scotland, Merida is quite different from most of the other Disney princesses. She’s not looking for a prince, shoots her own arrows, and cares more about her relationship with her mom than boys.
Scotland is a great destination if you’re interested in seeing medieval castles, just like the one we see in Brave. The scenery in the movie is also dramatic, misty, and green. Visit the Scottish Highlands and you’ll see it for real!
5 Pocahontas From Pocahontas: Virginia
Unlike other Disney characters, Pocahontas was a real person. She came from the Tidewater region of the state of Virginia and is now associated with the colonial settlement at Jamestown. The village she was born in no longer exists but was located in Gloucester County. Although she came from Virginia, she was buried in England, in the ancient town of Gravesend.
Pocahontas may have been a real figure but the character we see in the Disney movie leads a very different life from her historical counterpart. Let’s just say her story was Disney-fied to have a happy ending!
4 Moana From Moana: Hawaii
One of Disney’s more recent main characters, and not strictly a princess, Moana is the daughter of a Hawaiian chief. The story is straight out of mythology, based on the tale of Maui and how he created the Pacific Islands by fishing them out of the ocean.
Watching the idyllic island scenery in Moana definitely makes you want to jump on a plane to the Hawaiian Islands! This isn’t the first Disney film to be set in Hawaii, by the way. The first was Lilo & Stitch, though there definitely aren’t any princesses in that one.
3 Ariel From The Little Mermaid: Denmark
There’s been a lot of debate over where Disney’s The Little Mermaid is set. The original tale is by Hans Christian Andersen, who was Danish, which leads many to attribute the story to Denmark. But if we look at the species of fish and sea life in the movie, it’s really not typical of Northern Europe. In fact, some believe that the Disney version is set in the Caribbean.
If we focus specifically on Ariel and her origins, it makes sense to trace her back to Denmark. If you actually want to go and pay tribute to Ariel, you can do so at The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
2 Tiana From The Princess And The Frog: Louisiana
Princess Tiana made waves back in 2009 for being the very first African-American Disney princess. She hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, where she becomes entangled in a mess with the handsome Prince Naveen. Although everything is embellished in Disney animations, there is still a lot of Louisiana culture that seeps into the story.
You can certainly visit New Orleans today, although it might look a little different from the way it looks in the movie, which was set in the early 20th century. There are even Tiana-inspired tours you can take while in the city!
1 Anna And Elsa From Frozen: Norway
In recent times, Anna and Elsa have risen to become some of the most popular Disney characters ever. These sisters are the Princesses of a kingdom called Arendelle. Unfortunately, there is no real place called Arendelle, but many believe that the fictional land is based on the Scandinavian country of Norway.
The Disney art directors took inspiration from Norway when designing the background animation for Arendelle, so this is the closest real-life destination that we can place the sisters in. There are plenty of other clues pointing toward the Scandinavian culture of the kingdom, including the names of some of the characters (looking at you, Olaf).