15 Amazing Real World Inspirations for Disney and Pixar Movies

The animators and filmmakers at Disney and Pixar have very active imaginations and are incredibly creative, but not everything comes purely from their brains. There are a lot of real world inspirations that they pull from, and one of the most evident ways is in the locations and places they place their characters in. From German castles to South American waterfalls to LA suburban schools, there are places all over the world that they look at and incorporate into the movies and parks, always in unique and wonderful ways.

Check out these 15 amazing real world inspirations for these famous Disney and Pixar movies!

  • Real World Inspiration 1 of 28

    Check out these 15 real world inspirations for Disney Pixar movie locations!

  • Up 2 of 28

    Mr. Fredricksen in Up was on a quest to go to Paradise Falls, and if you want a similar quest, there is a real world equivalent ...

    Photo Source: Disney/Pixar

  • The Real Paradise Falls 3 of 28

    The inspiration for Paradise Falls was Angel Falls in Venezuela, which just so happens to be the world's highest waterfall.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/Yosemite

  • Cinderella’s Castle 4 of 28

    Cinderella's castle is like a fairy tale dwelling that has come to life. It's so epically romantic and over the top, but it has a real world inspiration.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Chris Harrison

  • Castle Neuschwanstein 5 of 28

    The main inspiration for Cinderella's castle was the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The massive structure was built by King Ludwig II in the mid-1800s and is a great example of the "Romanesque" style of castle architecture. The main thing borrowed for Cinderella's castle are the stately turrets. This was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle as well.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/Softeis

  • Cars and Cars Land 6 of 28

    One thing about Cars and Cars Land is there are so many details that make you really feel like you have been transported to one of America's most legendary roadways.

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Imagineers on Route 66 7 of 28
    route 66

    While developing Cars Land at California Adventure, Disney imagineers went on a road trip to Route 66 — the same research done when the Pixar team was developing Cars. "We followed in the same footsteps that John Lasseter and the Pixar team took during the development of Cars," Imagineer Kathy Mangum said of the trip. "In fact, we were led by the same expert guide Michael Wallis. You know him as the voice of Sheriff in the Cars movies, but he's also a well-known writer, historian and author of Route 66: The Mother Road."

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Imagineers

  • Aladdin 8 of 28

    The Sultan's Palace in Aladdin is a huge dwelling that houses Jasmine, her Sultan dad, and her pet tiger Rajah. And although a palace exactly like this does not exist in real life, there was an inspiration ...

    Photo Source: DisneyWiki


  • Taj Mahal 9 of 28

    One of the biggest inspirations was the Taj Mahal in India, which would be inspiring to anyone!

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Dhirad

  • The Beast’s Castle 10 of 28

    The Beast's castle in Beauty and the Beast may be a place of magic and curses, but the inspiration for the palace has a very real world model ...

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Inspiration 11 of 28

    The animators were inspired by Chateau of Chambord in the Loire Valley of France. Animator Glen Keane said, "It was an ominous, impressive place with all of these spires and just standing there before us. I mean I'll never forget the morning driving up there through the mist and fog and seeing it there. I thought this is the Beast's castle. This is where he lives."

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/Telemaque MySon

  • Brave 12 of 28

    The team of behind Pixar's Brave took their research seriously. A team went to Scotland and explored the natural beauty, the castles, and even tried haggis.

    Photo Source: Disney/ Pixar

  • Scotland 13 of 28

    And the beauty of Scotland was very evident in Brave with the texture, lighting, and feel being very strong.

    Photo Source: Adventures by Disney

  • Frankenweenie 14 of 28

    Tim Burton's Frankenweenie takes place in a moody American suburb that had a very personal inspiration to the director ...

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Burbank 15 of 28

    Director Tim Burton looked at his childhood home of Burbank for inspiration, especially for the architecture of the buildings in the film, such as the school shown in the film — a style Tim Burton said was "oppressively boring."

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/Ucla90024


  • Winnie-the-Pooh 16 of 28

    When making Winnie-the-Pooh, the directors were given the direction to "return Pooh to his roots," and to do so, they went to where Winnie-the-Pooh was born. They went to the real life Hundred-Acre Wood, aka Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, for inspiration. And you know what? We went to the Hundred-Acre Wood to see for ourselves! You can check out our visit right here.

    Photo Source: Sunny Chanel

  • The Princess and the Frog 17 of 28

    The Princess and the Frog took place in the gorgeous city of New Orleans ...

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Buildings 18 of 28

    And there was inspiration everywhere in New Orleans, from the music to the nearby swamps to the buildings of the French Quarter.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Sami99tr

  • Ratatouille 19 of 28

    The creators of Pixar's Ratatouille didn't get their inspiration from a kitchen in France, but rather from somewhere just a couple of hours away from their Emeryville, CA headquarters.

    Photo Source: Pixar

  • French Laundry 20 of 28

    For the kitchen of Gusteau (the restaurant in Ratatouille), the inspiration was from Thomas Kellar's legendary restaurant French Laundry in Yountville in the Napa Valley. But the animators at Pixar definitely kicked up the style in their film version. The Pixar team also studied how Thomas Kellar cooked and had one of the French Laundry chefs come to Pixar to prepare plates of food for them to study. They also looked at real Paris high-end eateries, such as Guy Savoy, Le Train Bleu, and Taillevent, for inspiration as well.

    Photo Source: Mo Pie/ Flickr

  • Lilo and Stitch 21 of 28

    The laid back Hawaiian town where Lilo and Stitch reside has a very real world counterpart.

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Kauai 22 of 28

    The Disney animators looked to Hawaii's island of Kauai, and although they used a mix of different looks and styles that appear on the island, they found their main inspiration in Hanapepe. "In the small town of Hanapepe, I found all the usual homey details, ranging from rusted-out bridges to homemade mailboxes," said Paul Felix, the film's production designer.

    Photo Source: Joel Bradshaw/ WikiCommons


  • The Incredibles 23 of 28

    The suburban neighborhood in The Incredibles was very post modern and had a very stylish inspiration.

    Photo Source: Disney/Pixar

  • Palm Springs 24 of 28

    The animators looked at post modern homes, like this Alexander Home located in Palm Springs.

    Photo Source:


  • Monsters University 25 of 28

    The Pixar team looked to a whole bunch of colleges when gathering inspiration for Monters University, and they didn't go with just one school for their look. But there are some things that really stand out ...

    Photo Source: Disney Pixar

  • Harvard 26 of 28

    One example is Harvard, namely the Weeks Footbridge that goes across the Charles River with the Eliot House cupola in the background. 

    Photo Source: Flickr/Matt Kromer

  • The Lion King 27 of 28

    We all know that the The Lion King was set in Africa. The animators looked at the continent for their locales and sets. One place in particular stands out ...

    Photo Source: Disney

  • Pride Rock 28 of 28

    Pride Rock, as well as the gorges, were inspired by Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya. A stunning place in real life and in the animated world.

    Photo Source: Maclemo/WikiCommons


Article Posted 3 years Ago

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