Have you ever wondered how your favorite Walt Disney World Resort attraction was created, or what goes into designing the perfect outfit for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse? Enter Disney Insider, your VIP ticket to the most magical company on earth, now streaming on Disney+. Disney Insider peels back the curtain of The Walt Disney Company like never before. Each week, the series transports viewers behind the scenes of their favorite movies, shows, theme parks, destinations, and more. Every episode tells three unique stories that capture the magical moments and heartfelt storytelling that is Disney.
The making of Disney Insider has been just as magical as the content within. Here are some fun facts and Easter eggs that take you inside the design process of Disney Insider’s whimsical opening sequence.
The opening title sequence took more than four months to create, with five different motion graphics artists working on various elements that included 3D modeling, lighting, camera blocking, and compositing. Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios were all in on the process to bring this animated world to life. The three film studios provided 3D models to precisely capture the Pixar Ball, the Millennium Falcon, and Avengers Tower. Captain America’s shield can also be spotted flying through the air as a nod to the first MCU Disney+ original series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is coming soon!
If you look closely, at the start of each episode, you can see an original model sheet of Mickey Mouse from 1938 above the animator’s desk. The opening sequence for the show was designed to be a bit of a time machine, taking you from the early days of the company all the way through to the present. This image of Mickey Mouse was chosen for two reasons. First, Walt Disney once said of the company, “that it was all started by a mouse” — so what better way to start your journey inside Disney than with the mouse that started it all?
Second, this sketch of Mickey Mouse is from 1938, the same year that Walt Disney Animation Studios continued to take the world by storm with their first feature film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film was released nationwide throughout the United States on a rolling basis during 1938 (though its Los Angeles, California, premiere was a few weeks earlier on December 21, 1937), and it later earned Walt a special Oscar® – presented as one full-sized statuette accompanied by seven miniature versions. With the success of this film, among other successes, Walt was able to break ground on a new studio lot in Burbank, California. The building that houses animators’ offices in the opening sequence of Disney Insider was designed based on that original Animation Building in Burbank, which is still used at The Walt Disney Studios today.
The famous Mickey Avenue and Dopey Drive street sign from the 1941 film The Reluctant Dragon can be seen popping up outside of the Animation Building as the camera moves down the street. This same sign can also be seen in real life at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. If you ever have a chance to visit The Walt Disney Studios lot, you can also find Pluto’s paw prints in the pavement below the sign.
Three different nods to theatres can be seen as the camera makes its way down the street. Blink and you might miss the Carthay Circle Theatre, tucked behind the Roy E. Disney Animation building, home to Walt Disney Animation Studios. The design of the theatre in the opening sequence is based on the Carthay Circle Restaurant found at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, itself a nod to the original Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. This famous movie palace dated back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, and housed the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
Next, Broadway’s famous New Amsterdam marquee is utilized as a screen to show teasers for the upcoming episode. The New Amsterdam Theatre has been the home for a number of Disney’s Broadway shows, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Aladdin!
Finally, the El Capitan Theatre builds before your eyes as the camera moves down the aisle and out to the marquee. The first Disney film to premiere at the El Capitan Theatre was The Rocketeer in 1991. The El Capitan Theatre is now the destination for many Walt Disney Studios movie premieres, including recent Academy Award® winners Coco (2017) and Toy Story 4 (2019).
If you thought you saw two “El Caps,” you were right! The mountain seen on the left side of the screen during the final shot of the opening sequence is actually El Capitan summit in Yosemite National Park. This was placed in the opening sequence of Disney Insider for two reasons. First, El Cap was added as a nod to the Academy Award-winning film Free Solo, the epic Oscar®-winning film from National Geographic. Second, the El Cap summit mirrors the El Capitan Theatre, providing the perfect framing for the Disney Insider title!
This incredible 45-second sequence took two full days to render, using more than 30 computers.
Make sure you watch Disney Insider, now streaming on Disney+, for your ticket inside the magic (and to spot even more Easter eggs)!