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DISNEY DESTINATIONS

As Disneyland Resort California celebrates 60 years we take a look at the fantastical locations featured in your favourite Disney movies, which might not be as far away as you thought. From Sleeping Beauty to Frozen, magic is just around the corner… if you know where to look.


WORDS Amelia Hungerford

 

Frozen (2013)
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec, Canada

The fjords and fortresses of Norway have done a roaring trade in the wake of ‘Frozen’-inspired journeys, but if your little snow queen is eyeing off the frozen fractals of Elsa’s Ice Palace, Canada is your ultimate destination. Rebuilt each winter, Hôtel de Glace is made entirely of snow and ice, carved into majestic sculptures and crystalline halls. This year the must-see attraction is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a unique Space-Time theme that sees ‘time bubbles’ throughout the hotel blurring the lines between past and future. Make yours a magical experience by staying the night in an ice room, cosy in a Nordic sleeping bag.

Aladdin (1992)
Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Just as Aladdin looks from his 'street-rat' hideaway to the majesty of the Sultan's Palace, so too will little ones gaze in amazement upon India's most famous landmark and one of the world's seven wonders. The white mausoleum of the Taj Mahal not only entrances visitors with its delicate marble lacework, but with the love story it tells. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the building is a memorial to his beloved third wife, completed in 1648. For the most dazzling view, arrive at sunrise. The sheer size of the monument is rendered enchanting by the play of morning light; little ones can easily imagine Princess Jasmine watching her bluebirds take flight into the dawn sun.

Brave (2012
Dunnottar Castle

The mythical story of a rebellious red-haired princess wouldn't be quite so evocative without its setting in the Scottish Highlands, a brooding land of warriors and legends. Merida's home of DunBroch Castle was drawn from a range of influences, including Urquhart Castle, Dun Carloway broch and the interiors of Eilean Donan Castle, but you'll see a large resemblance between DunBroch and the ruins of Dunnottar Castle, set on a rocky headland on the north-east coast. The history of this fortress spans royal visits, sieges, rebellions, treason and the Scottish Crown Jewels, layering story upon story for a fascinating visit. Young explorers can make like Merida by exploring the wide, grassy grounds, seeking out hidden nooks and untold adventure.

Tangled (2010)
Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

Every year on Rapunzel's birthday, the kidnapped princess looks to the sky above the island citadel of Corona and admires the paper lanterns illuminating the sky. Just like its animated counterpart, Mont-Saint-Michel draws the eye from the bay where Normandy and Brittany meet to its vertiginous peak at the top of its namesake abbey. While the castle that crowns the 'Tangled' island is inspired by French Renaissance castles including Chateau de Chenonceau, the Benedictine abbey is a marvel of Italian Romanesque architecture and one of France's most recognisable attractions. After centuries of modification for farming and tourism, Mont-Saint-Michel is once more an island. Make the most of your enchanted adventure by staying in one of the quaint hotels within the stone walls and feasting on the island's famous fluffy omelettes.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Of all the Disney locations, Aurora’s blue-tinged fairytale castle is the most enduring, both as a film presence, a logo and the centrepiece of Disneyland, California. Even today, the image of its crisp, delicate towers is a promise of Disney magic. Walt and Lillian Disney visited the fantastical vision commissioned by eccentric Ludwig II, perched on a rocky outcrop high above the Bavarian village of Hohenschwangau, just before they began construction on Disneyland. The combination of the intricate Romanesque architecture, vibrant medieval interiors and isolated forest location have turned this dream-like royal retreat into one of the world’s most visited castles. Take a tour to immerse your princes and princesses in this enchanted world… just beware of any spinning-wheel needles.

UP (2009)

Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela

All Carl and Ellie Frederickson wanted to do was take flight and discover the world. When Carl finally escapes his elderly life (with an unconventional kid companion), he stumbles upon the place he dreamed of: Paradise Falls. While you might not find Paradise Falls on a map, you will find its real-life counterpart in Venezuela. At 979 metres, Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, plunging more than 800 metres from the edge of Auyantepui Mountain. Disney/Pixar director Pete Docter visited Venezuela, the falls and the surrounding tepuis (table-top mountains) in search of the Frederickson’s dream destination. Make your Angel Falls experience all the more memorable by taking flight on a helicopter tour and having a uniquely up-close encounter with these thundering waters.



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