Pixar and Disney have a long and rich history together. Many Disney animators, notably John Lasseter, sharpened their skills originally at Disney Animation, and of course there’s the original multi-film agreement in which Pixar created and Disney marketed and distributed the early films, all which defined Pixar as a studio above the rest. Disney’s purchase of Pixar in 2006 made permanent this amazing relationship.
With this background, it should come as no surprise that Pixar films include nods to Disney and its history. One such instance recently bubbled back into my head while enjoying the deliciously oversized Poster Art of the Disney Parks book. This treasure highlights poster art from the Disney parks around the globe and is a wonderful way to capture a unique slice of Disney history in vibrant color.
Two such classic Disneyland posters from the 1950’s are featured, albeit briefly, in Monsters, Inc.
Near the end of the movie, Mike Wazowski is trying out his standup routine in a little boy’s bedroom, working to elicit laughs instead of screams. The boy’s room has the usual artifacts - bed, dresser, bookshelf, and toys and clothes on the floor. Two posters on his wall, however, are directly inspired by Disneyland posters from its early years.
Above his bed headboard is a fleeting glimpse of the AstroJet ride in Tomorrowland. This is a direct reference to the 1956 attraction poster by artist Bjorn Aronson.
Next to the boy’s bedroom door and above the bookshelf is another classic poster, also by Aronson, of the Sailing Ship Columbia. This three-masted vessel, which debuted in 1958, is celebrating its 55th year and continues to serve as an iconic attraction with lineage tracing back to the early years of the park.
The next time you’re enjoying Monsters, Inc, keep a sharp eye out for these quick nods to Disney. There are other unique tributes tucked inside the film, but those can be shared another day. And on a related note, I’m looking forward to seeing hidden tributes in the Mike and Sully’s prequel, Monsters University.
Finally - if you’re a fan of the Disney parks, then you must add this book to your collection.