As part of Disney’s 100 year anniversary celebrations it has opened its vault doors and revealed the enchanting real world places that inspired Disney’s magical world. For the first time a list of 30 landmarks across Europe, Middle East and Africa that have inspired its movies, parks and fan’s hearts over the last century has been unveiled. It has been released in the run-up to Disney 100 The Exhibition which is being held at London’s Excel from 13th October.
From Big Ben in London to the colourful province of Cinque Terre in Italy and even to the Masai Mara, Kenya, the list of landmarks covers 13 countries and showcases the spots that have inspired some of Disney’s most famous stories. We all recognise Notre Dame Cathedral, France as featured in is name sake The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) and of course St Paul’s Cathedral, London as featured in Mary Poppins (1964), but some vistas are not so well known but no less magical. Who would have guessed that The Little Mermaid (1989) towns were inspired by Dubrovnik, Croatia!
Rebecca Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives, said: “Towards the end of his life, Walt Disney was honoured as the “Showman of the World”. It was a very apt honour, as he was fascinated and inspired by everything he experienced and saw, no matter where it was. As he once said himself, “Always, as you travel, assimilate the sounds and sights of the world.” And we have all benefited from his love of cultures the world over.”
As part of the celebrations, Disney has also recreated famous scenes from its 100-year history with exclusive photography, Iconic scenes in 101 Dalmatians were inspired by London’s Regent Park, St Paul’s Cathedral as seen in Mary Poppins, The Calanais Standing Stones inspired scenes in Brave and The Maze in Alice in Wonderland was inspired by Great Fosters, UK.
Encouraging fans to join in its celebration, Disney is offering one lucky winner a once in a lifetime photoshoot with photographer, Linda Blacker, who will transform them to look like one of their favourite Disney characters. Fans gain a chance to win by recreating their own favourite Disney scene or moment in the most creative way possible and uploading the photo with the hashtag #Disney100TheLandmarks to Instagram, or through Disney UK’s Facebook page. (See full T&C’s on Disney UK’s Instagram @DisneyUK or Facebook page.)
The list includes eight locations from UK shores including:
- Liberty London: The iconic department store in the heart of London, the original workplace of Cruella.
- Regents Park, London: One of the many parks around London which acts as the backdrop for the One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
- Calanais Standing Stones, Scotland: The team behind Disney and Pixar’s Brave said the stones on the Isle of Lewis were a key inspiration for the movie.
- Big Ben, London: Most famously, Big Ben is a key landmark spotted in Peter Pan as Wendy and the Darling children fly over London’s skyline on their way to Neverland.
- St Paul’s Cathedral, London: From Mary Poppins flying over London’s iconic skyline, to Mr. Banks taking the children to work and seeing the lady feeding the birds outside of St Paul’s, London’s iconic cathedral plays a prominent role throughout Mary Poppins.
- Abbs Village, Scotland: Located on the southern coast of Scotland on the Berwickshire coast, this picturesque fishing village inspired the fictional location where Thor and the remaining Asgardians resided after the war in Avengers: Endgame.
- Ashdown Forest (Hundred Acre Wood), England: The home for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends at Hundred Acre Woods, later animated by Disney. This location plays an integral part to the story, as Pooh and friends love to play in the woods, even playing Pooh Sticks at Pooh bridge.
- Great Fosters, England: During a 1935 trip to the UK, Walt Disney visited The Great Fosters, a Tudor era manor house. Many years later, when working on Alice in Wonderland, it’s likely that Walt fondly remembered the topiary maze of the English manor, drawing inspiration for the film as Alice gets lost in the maze.
Here is a full list of the world-wide locations:
UK and Ireland
Cruella (2021) / Liberty London
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)/ Regent’s Park, London
Peter Pan (1953) / Big Ben, London
Mary Poppins (1964) / St Paul’s Cathedral, London
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) / Skellig Michael, Ireland
Avengers: Endgame (2019) / St. Abbs Village, Berwickshire, Scotland
Winnie the Pooh (2011) / Ashdown Forest (Hundred Acre Wood), UK
Brave (2012)/ Calanais Standing Stones, Stornoway, Scotland
Alice in Wonderland (1951)/ Great Fosters, UK
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) / Notre Dame Cathedral, France
Ratatouille (2007) / Le Train Bleu, France
Beauty and the Beast (1991) / Chateau de Chambord, France
Sleeping Beauty (1959) / Château de Saumur, France
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) / Alcázar de Segovia, Spain
The Little Mermaid (1989) / Dubrovnik, Croatia
Black Panther (2018) / Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, South Africa
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) / The Black Forest, Germany
Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland, USA / Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Captain America: Civil War (2016) / Leipzig/ Halle Airport, Germany
Black Widow (2021) / Budapest, Hungary
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) / Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland
Disney and Pixar’s Luca (2021) / Cinque Terre, Italy
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) / Ear of Dionysius, Sicily, Italy
Hercules (1997)/ Mount Olympus, Greece
Aladdin (2019)/ Wadi Rum, Jordan
Exclusive research in the UK, commissioned by The Walt Disney Company, found that when the nation was asked which locations in the UK they would like to see featured in future Disney films, the Lake District topped the list (14%), followed by Loch Ness (10%) and Edinburgh Castle (10%) in Scotland. The research also found that almost half of Brits would love to use a Disney location for a once-in-a-lifetime moment, with four in ten (41%) 16 – 44-year-olds saying they would select their dream wedding destination based on castles and locations that inspired Disney’s stories.
Elsewhere, the research showed the nation’s top three most memorable Disney film scenes include the iconic Lady and the Tramp moment where a plate of spaghetti is shared in a demure restaurant (16%), the magical scene in Mary Poppins as she flies out of London with her umbrella (14%), and the musical march of ‘Heigh Ho’ from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (14%).
Disney 100 – The Exhibition will be on at Excel London and opens to the public on 13th October. Fans will be treated to a vault of treasures from the Walt Disney Archives showcasing hundreds of extraordinary objects across ten imaginatively themed galleries. These will include many of Disney’s “Crown Jewels” – more than 250 rarely-seen artefacts and works of art, costumes and props, and other incredible memorabilia. From classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Encanto (2021), including the latest members of the Disney family – Pixar, Star Wars and MARVEL!