Behind the scenes
Disney100: The Landmarks

Disney has brought magical worlds to our screens, parks, high streets and hearts for 100 years. 

But did you know that some of Disney’s most loved stories were inspired by real-world locations around us?  

This year, Disney celebrated the story behind their stories as part of its 100-year anniversary. By revealing the favourite locations across Europe, it gave thanks to the real-world places that have acted as inspiration, giving fans the opportunity to go and explore them for themselves. 

We worked with Disney to recreate famous scenes from its 100-year history, as it opened its vaults for the first time to reveal a list of 30 locations across the world that have inspired its iconic movies and parks over the years. So, we’re now opening our (slightly smaller) vaults to give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of our best PR campaigns. 

Creating the campaign

We were given a brief to drive awareness and brand love for Disney ahead of its 100th anniversary earlier this year, at a time when there would already be plenty of noise about the company. Disney has so many iconic scenes and films, and everyone has their favourite, but we wanted to highlight the inspiration behind everyone’s favourites from the last 100 years. Enter: Disney100: The Landmarks. 

Research commissioned by The Walt Disney Company, found two in five (42%) Brits are completely unaware that many Disney films and parks are based on real-world locations. Three-quarters of Brits were unaware that the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, with its fairy-tale architecture and picturesque setting, influenced the design of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California, USA. 

Challenges faced

It was challenging actually proving that certain locations across EMEA inspired these Disney classics. The team were given exclusive access to many historic Disney press kits, and Disney fan sites, to compile a list of locations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa that inspired Disney films, scenes and parks. For example, it’s general knowledge among Disney fans that the restaurant in Ratatouille is inspired by a restaurant in Paris, but we had to find evidence that filmmakers, writers or directors, had confirmed this in writing.

One of our best PR campaigns so far (we loved it!) 

The reception to the campaign from the media was so positive! Every Disney fan thinks they know everything about Disney, so it was great to see their reactions when they found out locations in the UK and beyond had directly inspired iconic scenes.   

We also recreated four iconic Disney scenes in their real-life locations in a photoshoot, which meant the PR team took on the role of models; something new for all of us. This included several 5 AM wake-up calls – one in the Outer Hebrides for a Brave shoot (Calanais Standing Stones, Scotland) and another shoot at St Paul’s Cathedral for Mary Poppins, highly entertaining for eager London commuters. There was also a shoot that involved running around a maze in Hertfordshire in a huge blue dress (Alice in Wonderland).