Enchanting Destinations From Your Favourite Disney Films in the Real World

September 7, 2023 in Destinations, France, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland & United Kingdom

Fairytales don’t exist, or do they? We bet you didn’t know that the enchanting destinations in your favourite Disney films are based on real-world locations. Best of all, you’re able to visit them on your next campervan road trip! We’ve rounded up the most charming in this blog for you, so load up the family and all the princess dresses you can find, press play on the Disney Hits playlist and head to a world of pure imagination.

The Little Mermaid — Chateau de Chillon, Switzerland 

Let's kick off with our favourite aquatic princess, “The Little Mermaid”. The 2023 release of this classic has stirred our love for Disney right back up from the deep, but did you know Prince Eric’s castle in the original film was inspired by the 13th-century Chateau de Chillon on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland? You’ll recognize the castle from its red turrets and the steep cliffs to which the castle owes its strategic position. Chateau de Chillon is one of Europe’s best-kept medieval castles, so it definitely deserves a spot on your Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled on the rocks beneath the lake, and you’ll never know what might pop up from beneath the lake's surface…
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Sleeping Beauty —  Castle Neuschwanstein, Germany 

If you recognize Castle Neuschwanstein in the German state of Beieren from a vague childhood memory, you’re not alone. The castle was the one and only inspiration for the famous saga of “Sleeping Beauty”. Arriving at the castle truly is like stepping into a real-life fairytale. The structure is a sight for sore eyes, and one you’ll not likely forget due to the sheer size of it. It breathes pure splendour and mightiness, with ginormous towers that pillar high above the treetops. It’s the kind of residence that could only be inhabited by magical figures, such as a dormant princess that will live in children's minds for eternity. Walt Disney even visited the castle himself, and let the building serve as the base idea for the first Disney theme park he built in 1955. This real-world Disney destination is included on the Romantische Strasse route through Germany, which we highly recommend for a motorhome trip, whether you’d like to kiss a prince or not. 
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Beauty and the Beast — Eguisheim village, France 

The impossibly cute village of Eguisheim in France is next on your list of real-world Disney locations. The quaint and characteristic streets form the decor for the touching story of “Beauty and the Beast”, which was also re-released in 2017. The village’s name, but also architecture has a little German feel to it, which is explained by the fact that it was in the hands of the Germans during large parts of the 18th century. Walk around the scenic setting of Eguisheim and catch yourself belting out the lyrics to “Gaston!” while daily French life plays out in the streets and squares around you. Eguisheim is only one of many stops you’ll not want to miss on a road trip through the French region of Elzas, which is dotted with other beautiful medieval villages, colourful squares and hills covered by vineyards. Why not hire a motorhome in France and see for yourself? 
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

The Hunchback of Notre Dame — Notre Dame, France

What other landmark could better set the scene for this iconic Parisian tale than the real-life Notre Dame in Paris? The cathedral forms a spectacular decor for Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The story, which stars the cathedral bell ringer, was originally written by Victor Hugo in 1831. Unfortunately, due to a devastating fire, the beautiful Notre Dame has been closed to the public for a while now as massive parts of the structure have been destroyed. However, the two main towers which feature prominently in the films are still very much intact and can be admired from the outside. Spectators only need a tad of imagination to see Quasimodo swing from the top of them. 
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Rapunzel — Mont Saint-Michel, France

Only a short trip from the capital to the coast, we’re staying in France for the next spot on this list of Disney destinations in the real world. Do you remember the story about “Rapunzel”? The baby girl that got stolen from her crib by a wicked witch who locked her away in a tower? Worst of all, the only way to access the tower was if Rapunzel let down her hair, so the witch “may climb the golden stair”.  

Well, if you were paying attention, you may recognize the kingdom from which Rapunzel was stolen as the tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel on the coast of Normandy. This spot is truly mesmerizing, whether you’re a Disney fan or not, and we recommend you don’t miss it when exploring the northwest of France in a motorhome. Luckily our Normandy Road Trip Itinerary will guide you right to it. 

Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Brave — Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Finally, a real-life Disney destination a little closer to home! In Disney’s “Brave”, the courageous Princess Merida is deemed to get married, so she can take over the throne four clans are fighting over. As expected, the little lass has other plans for her life. Fun fact: the house that the clan DunBroch calls home is inspired by the real-life Eilean Donan Castle! The massive table in the middle of the great hall even stood as a model for the one around which Merida’s family gatherings are held in the film. A visit to Eilean Donan Castle is just one of many reasons to visit the Scottish Highlands, but don’t take our word for it! Rather hop in a motorhome and check out our many itineraries for a road trip through Scotland
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Frozen — St. Olaf’s Church, Norway

Take a good look at the chapel of St. Olaf’s Church in Norway and tell us it isn’t the spitting image of the chapel in the blockbuster “Frozen”. You’ll find the chapel on the Norwegian village of Balestrand. It was built by Margaret Green, the English wife of Knut Kvikne. The beautiful chapel plays an important role in the goosebumps-inflicting story about two sisters, love and of course, the indispensable snowman who goes by the name of… surprise, surprise… Olaf!
Thinking of embarking on a Norwegian adventure yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Norway by motorhome
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — Alcázar Castle, Spain

In the Spanish city of Segovia, Alcázar Castle is proudly perched on top of a hill. The stunning structure closely resembles the residence of a certain self-absorbed queen, who was determined to turn the life of her fair roommate into a nightmare. The real-life castle from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was built by King Alfonso VI. Luckily, those who visit it nowadays don’t have to worry about talking mirrors that reflect their worst impulses. However, if anyone offers you an apple, maybe politely decline just in case. 
Real-life Disney Destinations Disney Film Locations Inspired by Real-Life Places

Has your favourite Disney film made the list? And what destinations have you always fantasised about visiting? Wherever your imagination takes you, the road is sure to be less long and more adventurous in a campervan!

Check out our motorhomes available for hire and set off on your own trip of dreams.