Europe for Disney Lovers: 7 Must-See Places
When you’re hunkered down in a dark movie theater indulging in the guilty pleasure of a Disney film, it’s easy to think that these worlds are completely make-believe. But the good news is that many of these magical scenes are real, and just a train ride away on your next European rail journey. There are many places in Europe for Disney lovers. Here are 7 real-life locations that inspired the films.
Europe for Disney lovers
1. Sleeping Beauty | Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Your first words when you see Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria will likely be along the lines, “This is straight out of a fairytale.” Though the castle predates the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, you may find it hard to separate the two. Ludwig II of Bavaria built this beautiful castle in 1892 as a tribute to his favorite composer, Richard Wagner. Disney used it as inspiration for The Royal Castle in Sleeping Beauty many years later. It’s a popular fixture on many tourist itineraries, but it still retains its mythical charm and photogenic façade.
How to get there by train: Learn more about how to reach it on your Eurail trip with our guide to Neuschwanstein Castle.
2. Tangled | Mont Saint-Michel, France
Normandy’s Mont Saint-Michel is a popular tourist attraction in its own right, but its obvious inspiration for Tangled’s Kingdom of Corona has simply added to its appeal and allure. Treacherous tides cut off this dramatic island from the mainland, which made it the perfect location for a fortified cloister. Today it’s simply a stunning attraction that will whisk you away to another dimension.
How to get there by train: The closest railway station is Pontorson, reachable by regional train from Paris. From there, catch a shuttle to the island.
3. Beauty and the Beast | Alsace, France
The Disney classic Beauty and the Beast has several important real-world themes and lessons that remain relevant to this day. But many viewers aren’t aware that the animated town was inspired by the Alsace region of North-East France. Towns in this region offer an intriguing blend of French and German influence, which is evident in everything from local dialect through to architecture. At times you may feel as if you’ve stepped directly into the set of the Disney film.
How to get there by train: There are regular TGV trains from Paris to the Alsace region of France. The most central rail hub is Strasbourg. From there, regional trains can get you into the smaller towns in the area.
4. The Little Mermaid | Chateau De Chillon, Switzerland
A trip to pretty much any town on the banks of Lake Geneva will make you feel like you’re stepping into a Disney movie. So it’s no surprise that Switzerland’s Chateau De Chillon bears an obvious resemblance to Prince Eric’s castle in the Little Mermaid.
How to get there by train: Chateau De Chillon is a short train ride away from the city of Montreux, which is an accessible rail hub on the banks of Lake Geneva.
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame | Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
This one is hardly a surprise, since the movie title shares the name of the attraction. But given the popularity of the movie and the impressive nature of the Parisian cathedral, it still has to be mentioned. A walk around Notre Dame is a moving experience for the beauty of the architecture alone. If you were inspired by the Hunchback of Notre Dame, it will be even more profound.
How to get there by train: Paris is a major European rail hub. There are several regional and high speed trains that connect it with the rest of France and many cities throughout the continent.
6. Frozen | Balestrand, Norway
The biggest Disney hit of recent times, Frozen, features scenes based on real-life attractions that you’ll find in Europe. The chapel in Frozen is believed to have been inspired by St. Olaf’s Church in the Norwegian municipality of Balestrand. The humble wooden church dates back to 1897. It’s as charming in real life as it was in the movie.
How to get there by train: The nearest train station to Balestrand from Oslo is Flåm, and there are five trains operating on this route daily. From there, catch a twice-daily ferry to Balestrand.
7. Snow White | Segovia Castle, Spain
The Queen’s Castle in the all-time Disney classic of Snow White is another fictionalized attraction that exists in Europe. You’ll find the castle in the small town of Segovia, not far from the Spanish capital of Madrid. You may have to take a bit of a walk to find the right angle. But when you do, the otherworld qualities will transport you directly into the famous fairytale.
How to get there by train: Segovia is a two-hour train ride northeast of Madrid. There are typically five trains a day operating on this route.
Bonus: Disneyland Paris
Join the magic and experience the ultimate place in Europe for Disney lovers – Disneyland Paris! Did you know that you can get 20 euros off pre-booked entrance tickets? All you have to do is choose your date and book your tickets on the dedicated Eurail discount page.
How to get there by train: It’s easy to reach Disneyland Paris by train. Take the RER train from Paris to station Marne la Vallée – Chessy. If you’re in London, you can take the Eurostar high-speed train directly to the Magic Kingdom.
Few can deny that there’s something magical about Disney movies. But there’s something even more special about traveling to the places that inspired these surreal worlds. You can reach many of these attractions by rail. And with a Eurail Global Pass, a trip to Europe for Disney lovers can easily be planned.