No matter how old you are, Disney has probably been a staple of your life at some point. Maybe you first felt the spark of romance while watching Sleeping Beauty, or you just couldn’t quite tear your kids (or yourself) away from a Lion King VHS tape… either way, Disney has the world hooked. (No wonder they make about $40 billion a year.)
Did you know that some of the most iconic and beloved Disney cartoons were based on real things? Characters, castles and stories all have real-life inspirations that you probably weren’t aware of. Buckle in, your nostalgic memories are about to be turned upside down.
1.) The Evil Queen from Snow White was based on Joan Crawford.
2.) Snow White was based on Marge Champion, a star from the 30s and 40s.
3.) The Queen’s castle in Snow White was inspired by Segovia Castle.
4.) Elsa’s palace in Frozen was based on the Hotel de Glace in Cananda.
5.) Pocahontas was based on Irene Bedard (who was also her voice in the film).
6.) Ursula from The Little Mermaid was based on Divine, an iconic drag queen.
7.) Eric’s castle in The Little Mermaid was based on Mont Saint-Michel.
8.) Ariel from The Little Mermaid was based on Alyssa Milano.
9.) The castle in Sleeping Beauty was based on Neuschwanstein Castle.
10.) Belle from Beauty and the Beast was based on Sherri Stoner, a Disney writer.
11.) Maleficent was based on Eleanor Audley.
12.) The vultures in The Jungle Book were based on The Beatles.
13.) Peter Pan was based on Bobby Driscoll (he also provided a voice for Peter).
14.) Chernabog from Fantasia was based on Bela Lugosi.
15.) Aladdin was based on Tom Cruise.
16.) The Sultan’s palace from Aladdin was based on the Taj Mahal.
17.) Jafar from Aladdin was based on Conrad Veidt.
18.) Genie from Aladdin was based on Robin Williams (who also provided the voice for Genie).
19.) The city and castle in Tangled was also based on Mont Saint-Michel.
20.) Hook was based on Hans Conried, in both look and voice.
21.) The castle in Atlantis was based on Angkor Wat.
22.) The village in The Emperor’s New Groove was based on Machu Piccu.
23.) DunBroch Castle in Brave was based on Dunnottar Castle.
24.) Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians was based on Tallulah Bankhead.
25.) Professor Ratigan was based on Professor James Moriarty (from Sherlock Holmes).
26.) The Big Bad Wolf in The Three Little Pigs was based on Jed Harris.
27.) Scar from The Lion King was based on Jeremy Irons.
Maybe these real inspirations are why we can connect to Disney movies so well. Even though we know the cartoons are just fantasy, there’s just a hint of reality that gives us hope. You may know that magical genies don’t really exist… but seeing Aladdin run around something that looks like the Taj Mahal? It’s easy to hope it’s more than just a story.
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