Watching a Disney movie and going on holiday have a lot of things in common: both involve escaping reality for a world full of wonder, if only for a short period of time. If you have ever longingly watched a Disney film yearning to escape, then these holiday destinations might just be for you.
The crystalline turquoise waters of the lagoons in Fiji will remind you of the ocean adventures of Moana in the hit 2016 Disney movie of the same name. The film is set in a fictional Polynesian island that was inspired by the likes of beautiful Fiji, where white sandy beaches, thriving coral reefs and lush, verdant rainforests are in abundance. Snorkelling, kayaking and swimming in the Pacific Ocean are some of the best ways to spend your holiday in Fiji and for an ultra-decadent experience, you can even rent an island to yourself!
Fans of The Princess and the Frog will recognise the fascinating Cajun culture of New Orleans in the American state of Louisiana. The movie is set in this southern US state during the Mardi Gras Festival, a carnival that takes place in the two weeks leading up to Shrove Tuesday. If visiting New Orleans during the festivities, make sure to book accommodation in advance and enjoy all this vibrant city has to offer from Louisiana voodoo to buzzing street parades. The city is well worth a trip even at quieter times of the year when you can wander the colourful streets, admire the intricate architecture of Creole townhouses and enjoy tasty gumbo.
Mardi Gras Festival
The thick layer of snow on the ground, the abundance of reindeer and sprinkling of snowflakes added a frostily beautiful backdrop to the smash-hit Disney movie Frozen. The creators of the film have declared that they were inspired by Norway when animating the home of Anna and Elsa, and who can blame them? The unparalleled beauty of the fjord lands, particularly in winter, is truly a sight to behold. For those looking to see these beautiful snowy mountains, a cruise around the fjords is an excellent way to do so, ideally with a few days in the charming city of Bergen either before or after. Embrace the cold, take in a deep breath of crisp air and let everything else go.
The scenery in Disney’s 1998 movie Mulan ranges from snowy mountains, precious gardens filled with cherry blossoms and, of course, the Great Wall of China itself. Beijing (and its surrounding areas) is a great place to visit if you want to see all of this and more: the Forbidden Palace in the capital city is clearly emulated in the film, and today houses not emperors but a museum documenting thousands of years of Chinese art and history. Badaling, one of the most popular sections of the Great Wall of China, is not far from Beijing and easy to see as a day trip. For a less crowded experience at this wonder of the world, Mutianyu is similarly accessible from Beijing and has a cable car to reach the upper parts of the wall.
The African country in which Disney’s 1999 movie Tarzan is set is never specified, but the gorilla population narrows it down to a few options, one of which is Uganda. The East African nation is home to around half of the remaining mountain gorilla population. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular options for gorilla treks, with the smaller Mgahinga offering an alternative. Permits and guides (which need booking in advance) are required to go on gorilla treks, and if you are lucky enough to spot these magnificent primates, you must keep a respectable distance and be very quiet. Catching a glimpse of this endangered animal is a truly unforgettable experience.
Whether you first saw the original animated version in 1994 or were stunned by the new photorealistic computer-animated remake in 2019, odds are that if you have seen any version of The Lion King, you have wanted to go to Africa. The Lion King is not only a great film but a great showcase for the African landscape and animals that are as captivating in 2019 as they were in 1994. Before the making of The Lion King, the animators of Disney’s travelled to Hell’s Gate National in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley to get a feel for, as Mufasa puts it, the great circle of life. As for finding the real-life Pride Rock, no one rock fits the bill. Instead, animators were inspired by Fischer’s Tower—one of the most notable of the park’s rock formations—in the north-eastern corner of the park. It doesn’t much resemble Pride Rock, but it’s stunning, nevertheless.
Filmed in Jordan, the live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, comes to the big screen in 2019. The movie is set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah—a city of "mystery and enchantment"— takes inspiration from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights. While Agrabah is meant to be located near the Jordan River, the live-action version was filmed in Jordan's UNESCO World Heritage site Wadi Rum. With burnt-orange sands, sweeping dunes and Martian-like mountains, it’s no surprise that this vast desert is often called the Valley of the Moon, or that it’s had a starring role in loads of movies. Travellers to the protected land usually embark on 4WD magic-carpet-excursions and take part in activities like quad biking, rock climbing, hiking and horse or camel trekking.
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