By Wishes Diva
One of my favorite places to visit on Walt Disney World property is EPCOT’s World Showcase. It is such a fun experience to walk through each country in the showcase and be immersed in their culture. The countries found on this magical walk are also the settings for many Disney movie favorites. Take a virtual walkthrough World Showcase as I highlight the movies that take place in these countries!
Canada- Brother Bear: This movie follows the story of a human boy turned bear named Kenai. It takes place in a post-ice age in Alaska & Canada. The animation in this film shows the beautiful and vast greenery that can be found in this region of the world. Beautiful snowy mountains and thick forests along with rocks and streams complete the setting.
U.K.- Mary Poppins: Based on the P.L. Travers book series of the same name, Mary Poppins is a family favorite and an ultimate classic! The setting is London, England (despite the movie being filmed entirely in Burbank, California.) Throughout the story, we get many different glimpses of London including a city view from both the streets and the rooftops courtesy of chimney sweep Bert and Mary Poppins herself.
France- Beauty and the Beast: Set in a small town in the French countryside, this film showcases the scenic views that France has to offer. Not far away, through a dark forest, lives the Beast (former prince) in his stately castle. The setting in the film truly embraces how diverse France can be, showcasing both the quaint towns and elaborate ornate castles.
Morocco- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: This may seem like an odd pairing, however, a quick google search will show you that the film’s expedition leads to the coast of Morocco! While this movie takes place primarily underwater and underground in this specific setting it still has roots in the country located above. It is said that the South-West Morocco area at the Atlantic Ocean is believed to be the location of the lost continent of Atlantis based on an approach to writings by Plato. The interpretation of Plato’s Atlantis Nesos points to the Souss-Massa plain which translates to southwest Morocco. Amazing!
Japan- Spirited Away: This may seem like a no-brainer to tie this location and this movie, however, this is a bit of a stretch. Although the film itself was written and produced by a Japanese film company (Studio Ghibli), the setting was actually inspired by a city in Taiwan. The busy streets and elaborate boathouse featured in the film come directly from downtown Juifen, Taiwan.
America- Princess and the Frog: There are many many Disney and Pixar movies alike that take place in the United States, but for me, it felt right to feature such an iconic area of the U.S. in this list. This music-filled, animated film takes place in the city of New Orleans and also the surrounding bayou. Full of Cajun flavor and swinging jazz, the music and characters add so much to the feel and the setting in this pick.
Italy- Pinocchio: This story begins in the Italian workshop of Geppetto, who is a very gifted marionette maker. Throughout the story, like the little wooden boy Pinocchio goes on his adventures in attempts to become a real boy, the viewers get to experience the beauty that is the Tuscan area of Italy. However there has been some debate as to whether or not the geography of this film was portrayed with accuracy, as the original story suggests Tuscany, Central Italy, but the mountains that were drawn in the backgrounds of numerous shots in the film could suggest the village depicted is more Northern Italy, near Austria. Either way, we are lucky to have a small glimpse into Italian life in the 1800s throughout the entirety of this animated feature.
Germany- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Much like the other princess and fairytale films in the earlier days of the Disney animated feature film, Snow White takes place in a small town in the countryside, with a castle, and vast forest just to the edge of the village.
China- Mulan: Mulan takes place in China, during the Han dynasty. In this film, we get to see many aspects of the country, from the Great Wall along the northern border, to the small towns and the imperial city. The animators truly captured the beauty and serenity of the Chinese landscape in this movie.
Norway- Frozen: When it comes to Disney, you can’t even start to think about the Norway pavilion without simultaneously thinking Frozen! Despite the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, Frozen takes place in a very real place and time: Norway in the 1840s. The look and feel of the kingdom in Frozen are very much based on the city of Bergen in Norway’s western fjord lands. This area of Norway is the primary trade hub of Norway for centuries and actually served as the capital during the Viking era. The waterways, mountains, and meadows of Arendelle can easily be traced back to this city.
Mexico- Coco: This beautifully animated film is set in the fictional town of Santa Cecilia, Mexico. The second important setting to this movie is the Land of the Dead and the concept of the entire movie is based around the Mexican Day of the Dead. The culture surrounding this Mexican holiday has a heavy impact on the setting of this movie, as authentic settings, clothing, and experiences are depicted. All of this together provides for an immersive experience into the Mexican culture.
Outpost (Africa)- Lion King: Not technically considered one of the countries in the World Showcase, the African outpost is situated between China and Germany. In the Pride Lands of sub-Sahara Africa, a pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom from Pride Rock. The real-life inspiration for this movie setting is Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya. The area is situated in the Great Rift Valley, a tectonic tear that stretches for miles upon miles and virtually splits the vast continent in two. The sprawling plains in juxtaposition against the jagged rocks serve for the perfect contrasting landscape for this Shakespeare inspired tale.
I hope you enjoyed our stroll through the movies of World Showcase. Next time you visit, try to put yourself in the character’s shoes and truly immerse yourself in the amazing culture that World Showcase has to share with all guests that visit.