When Does Aladdin Take Place in History? (and Where)

When Does Aladdin Take Place in History?

Aladdin is a classic rags to riches tale with a young hero, a pretty princess, a sinister villain, and a magical genie. It has become one of the most well-known and retold fairy tales in history which is why essentially everyone knows it. However, one thing that keeps everyone curious is the question of when is the story set. So, when exactly is Aladdin taking place?

Although there are a bunch of instances hinting at a certain time period they all clash with one another and we can’t conclusively decide when the story taking place is. One of the most popular explanations, although unconfirmed, states that the story is taking place in the future after an apocalyptic event.

Keep reading this article if you want a breakdown of the arguments which support and disapprove of the theory to figure out if you agree with it, maybe you’ll come up with a better solution and solve this question.  

When does Aladdin take place in history?

Because there are no clear clues that could lead us to a certain time period and the rest of the clues are or conflicting, we can’t actually conclude where in time Aladdin takes place.

However, after looking into this question a lot of fans declared that Disney’s attention to detail and content real-life references would not make sense with this and were convinced that there has to be an explanation and an answer to this question.

A group of fans actually created a theory that would perfectly explain everything in the movie and it hasn’t been disproven by the creator as of right now.

The idea presented in the theory which centers on the fact that Aladdin takes place in a post-apocalyptic future is a fan favorite and many people believe it is what Disney was originally going for.

Aladdin takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where only Arabic (and some Greek) survived. The name “Arabia” has been corrupted into “Agrabah” The Islamic religion has atrophied to the point where there are no mosques, Imams, or prayer mats. 

Amazing technological marvels left behind by the previous civilization are taken for granted by locals. The Aladdin genesis video game includes both a modern-day stop sign buried in the sand and a number of bones and skeletons. Also, the background of one level has what may appear to be an unexploded atomic bomb.

However, there are many fans that disagree with this theory and point out that there are a plethora of clues that point to it being incorrect.

Genie, like a time lord from Doctor Who, is an omnipotent entity with a different understanding of time and reality because he is a genie. Genie was not expected to be present at the time in order to have limitless knowledge of a particular culture; rather, he is simply making a joke. 

Leading theories contend that Aladdin would not only have missed the jokes the Genie was making, but he would also have forgotten who Groucho Marx was after 8000 years. Agrabah, sorcery, and the Islamic faith should have developed rather than devolved over thousands of years.

The most convincing piece of evidence for the supporters of this theory is the fact that Genie at one point refers to the indoor plumbing saying it will be huge, clearly using the future tense. 

This alludes to the fact that the story is taking place before the invention of indoor plumbing and supports the fact that Genie transcends time.

When does Aladdin 2019 take place in history?

When Does Aladdin Take Place in History?

The same thing can be said about the 2019 live-action remake of this Disney classic. Since the place where the events of the story are unfolding is fictional and reference many different cultures, the same was most likely applied to the time as well.

There aren’t that many elements that could hint at a certain time period and those that do would not be enough to figure out where does the story takes place.

The most likely explanation is that the filmmakers left the time period vague because the story takes place in a fictional universe, so why bother placing it in a certain time period especially if the story won’t benefit from it at all.

The story would work the same way if it was happening in the present, distant future or a long time ago and one of the most important rules of filmmaking says to remove anything that doesn’t add to the story and what the plot can survive without.

Where does Aladdin take place in history?

Although this may seem like a simple question since we get a straight answer in the movies, Agrabah, the place where the story takes place, doesn’t actually exist.

Many people assume it does exist since we get to see a number of different real-life landmarks throughout the movie, like the Taj Mahal.

The director of the 1992 Disney movie said in an interview that the original idea for the location of the story was the city of Baghdad in Iraq, however, they had to change it to a fictional location for the final product due to the backlash.

The biggest factor which led to this decision was the constantly increasing tension between the USA and the Iraqi government which ultimately led to the Gulf war.

The same thing applies to the 2019 live-action remake. The city in which the story takes place is also a fictional city and it was envisioned as a place where a lot of people constantly come and go by sea, giving it a good strategic position and a lot of connections.

The inspiration for the city was taken from Namibia in southwest Africa, where the desert stretches all the way to the ocean’s shore.

Meanwhile, the Sultan’s palace draws inspiration from all over Asia—the palace was modeled after a Burmese monastery, and the decor was inspired by Persia, India, Turkey, and even Byzantium.

Interestingly enough, if you look at the original version of the story and Victorian illustrations of it, it was supposed to be set in China or that the setting was supposed to be Turkestan in Central Asia.

The original tale of ‘Aladdin’ is set in China, which could come as a surprise. Aladdin is Chinese in the first versions of the story. He’s also not an orphaned street urchin, but rather a slacker who lives with his mother at home.

Except for the evil magician, who is from North Africa, all of the characters in the story are Chinese. While some scenes in the story take place in North Africa, the majority of the story takes place in China.

If you take into consideration all of these factors and the fact that the city seems to have elements of a wide array of Middle-Eastern cultures and a bit of Chinese influence by the extension it would be safe to assume that it is set somewhere along the trail of the Silk Road.

What is Aladdin based on?

When Does Aladdin Take Place in History?

The Arabian Nights stories, also known as One Thousand and One Nights, are a series of short stories from which this beloved fairytale originated. An enchanting and mystical series of Middle Eastern fairy tales. 

In 1704, Antoine Galland published a French version of the Arabian Nights tales, which was the first time they were brought to Europe. These fantastic and exotic tales grew in popularity quickly. Galland is said to have been awoken from his sleep in Paris by young men imploring him to tell him more tales.

Galland’s set is credited with popularizing the Aladdin story. In reality, the story was not included in the Thousand and One Nights Arabic manuscript. ‘Aladdin and his Magic Lamp’ was added by Galland, as well as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and ‘The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.