It's safe to say that Disney fans need to try to hit up as many of the brand’s theme parks as possible, but there are places beyond even Disney World that are worth visiting.
There are real-life locations that inspired rides and films. There are landmarks and attractions dedicated to specific movies and characters. There are places close to the Disney family, like their museums and their houses. In short, there is so much magic out there, waiting to be discovered! Here are ten spots that all Disney fans should add to their bucket lists.
This list is starting off strong… Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a beautiful place situated in Normandy, France. The island you see here has a population of 50, has had strategic fortifications since ancient times and is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
This location has also been an inspiration for works such as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, New Londo Ruins from Dark Souls and, of course, Tangled. The castle and the town down below it definitely look a lot like they do in this film - just minus all of those pretty, lit-up, paper lanterns.
The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Swiss Alps, and the first ascent up it was made in 1865, which ended on a not-so-great note. In fact, this is a place where many lives have been lost, but even so, numerous people try to climb it. People also enjoy tackling the 10-day-long circuit around the mountain.
More importantly (as far as this list is concerned), the Matterhorn and news of the first ascent inspired different artists and producers, which is why a large-scale replica can now be found at Disneyland. So after riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds, just go ahead and visit this real-life mountain!
This bronze statue features Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and other cute critters, and it was built in by José de Creeft in 1959, under the commission of philanthropist George Delacorte.
While it was largely based on original illustrations from the first published edition of the book, Alice’s face is sculpted in the likeness of Creeft’s daughter’s face, and the Hatter is a caricature of Delacorte. This tourist attraction, which can be found in Central Park, also has a line from “The Jabberwocky” on it, and it is a must-see landmark for Disney and Wonderland fans.
The Alcázar of Segovia, which means Segovia Fortress, is a medieval alcázar in Segovia, Spain. It is located up on rocks, above two rivers, near the Guadarrama mountains, and this distinctive castle-palace has been used as a fortress, royal palace, state prison, Royal Artillery College, military academy, museum and military archives building.
It makes sense that it was actually a palace since it looks like Snow White’s castle! It is said to have served as the inspiration in the animated movie, with the white points reaching up and the different levels of turrets all over this impressive structure.
The Hollywood Tower, which was originally known as La Belle Tour, is an apartment building in California that was built in 1929. It was a popular residence for those in the entertainment industry, and it is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
This wonderful building definitely smacks of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions at Disney parks in Florida, California, Paris, and Tokyo. It has similar elements, and both are icons in their respective areas. If anyone is heading to Disneyland, take a long way there, in order to drive by this tower!
Most of the Disney castles are pointy and pretty, but there is one that looks like this. This is Eilean Donan, a small island among the beautiful waters of the Highlands of Scotland. The main focal point here is a castle that frequently appears in photographs, film, and television.
There is also a footbridge that connects the island - with its population of just one person! - to the mainland. Yes, this structure is long and strong, making it more of a defensive strategy… like the castle in Brave, all about Merida, the daughter of a Scottish king and queen.
Another unique palace from one of these movies is seen in Aladdin, and it is clear that Princess Jasmine’s home was modeled after the Taj Mahal. Made out of ivory-white marble, it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.
Just like in this Disney flick, it has rounded structures at the top of it, and we can just imagine the Sultan roaming around the halls here. So, if any Disney fans are looking for an excuse to take an incredible and an exotic vacation - in order to see a castle like Jasmine’s - then here you go!
Alsace is a region in France, next to Germany and Switzerland, and doesn’t it look familiar? Beauty and the Beast could and should have been filmed here! It has this quaint and, well, provincial vibe to it, but it also has little details that make it sort of magical.
The shapes of the buildings, the green surrounding it all, the picture-perfect moments seen in the numerous photos of this place… Yes, we can just see Belle singing and reading here, and we are adding it to the top of our travel list, as we imagine many fans of this film will do.
Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century palace in Bavaria, Germany. It was originally intended as a retreat and as a home for the king, but now, it is open to the public, and more than 1.3 million people visit it each year (as many as 6,000 each day in the summer months).
This Romanesque Revival castle has appeared in movies like Ludwig II from 1955, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from 1968, The Great Escape from 1963, and Ludwig from 1972. Oh, and it inspired Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is quite clear and quite extraordinary.
In 1906, when Walt Disney was four, his family moved to Marceline, Missouri. Its Main Street is pictured here. Does it look familiar? Well, Main Street USA, the first themed land inside the entrance of many Disney parks, was modeled after it. Walt wanted it to look like a normal, small, downtown area.
While there is a little bit of Marceline in Disney, there is a little bit of Disney in Marceline. After his passing, The Walt Disney Hometown Museum opened up in this town, and the elementary school is even named after Walt Disney, with walls featuring beloved characters.