10 Secrets About Disney Pixar's 'Coco' Most Fans Probably Don't Know

Disney Pixar

Disney Pixar

The first time I watched Disney Pixar's new Oscar-nominated film Coco, in the theater, I found myself blown away, incredibly moved, and trying not to break down into a bout of ugly crying -- even though judging from the sniffles around me, there wasn't a single dry eye in the house. Anyone who has seen Coco will certainly agree with me. This isn't your average "kids" flick. It has depth. It tells a story. It puts life into perspective and reminds us of what's truly important. And because of that, it's developed a fan base of people who can't resist watching it over and over again. But I had the privilege of finding out some fun and interesting facts about Coco that even "superfans" might not be privy to.

  • An incredible amount of time, research, and dedication goes into making these movies -- much more than one would expect.

    Disney Pixar

    I had the opportunity to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, with Disney Pixar to experience firsthand the sites, culture, and traditions that inspired Coco -- and let me be the first to tell you that this film is truly a labor of love. My group had the pleasure of taking the trip with Coco co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina, who gave us more insight about how Coco went from a story board to the big screen. The research trips for the film began all the way back in 2012, and the directors and screenwriters were intent on getting Miguel's story line right, so it would accurately capture the traditions and culture of this part of Mexico.

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  • Many different areas of Mexico influenced the film.

    Oaxaca was ultimately chosen, however, because they wanted Miguel and his family to come from a specific place, in particular one where the Day of the Dead, which is integral to the plot of Coco, is celebrated with time-honored traditions.

  • The way the "ofrenda" and cemetery are set up for the Day of the Dead were of particular importance.

    Disney Pixar

    In talking with Adrian Molina, he explained how heavily referencing Oaxaca in regards to Miguel's family gave the filmmakers some clarity as far as what people would be wearing, and what kind of music you would hear in the Land of the Living. And in terms of the Land of the Dead, it incorporates many of the different things they saw in their research, since the Land of the Dead is "where everyone winds up."

  • The Monte Alban ruins served as the inspiration for the Land of the Dead.

    Since Coco is a film about not only family history, but also Mexican history, they thought it was important to make sure that Mexican architecture was apparent as an influencer for the Land of the Dead. As Adrian explained to me, the bottoms of the towers in the Land of the Dead are all Meso-American pyramids, and are the roots of where the spirits residing there exist.

  • And remember the spirit animals in the Land of the Dead who protect Miguel?

    Disney Pixar

    They are called "alebrijes." Yes, they are real, and they are a huge part of the culture here. 

  • We toured the workshop of Jacob and Maria Angeles, who are famous for making alebrijes in their village of San Martin Tilcajete.

    Every person has an animal spirit protector, which is based on an ancient Zapotec calendar, so the alebrijes are representative of that. Some of these creations can take months to make, from carving the wood, to the intricate painting of each statue. Jacob and Maria Angeles have provided many jobs at their workshop to the people in their community, and they even teach local children the trade of making the alebrijes, so the tradition can continue.

  • Remember how Dante, the street dog, was revealed to be a spirit protector for Miguel toward the end of the movie?

    Disney Pixar

    Sweetest. Alebrije. EVER!

  • Well, it turns out that Dante was based on a real-life dog.

    This sweet little guy is actually one of the pups of the dog who Dante was based on! (Heart eyes for days.)

  • Guess what other character actually "exists" too?

    Miguel's abuelita is real! We got to meet her at Jacob and Maria Angeles' workshop, where she works every day cooking food for all the students and workers there. Her hair, the way she dresses, the way she walks ... it's all exactly like her character in Coco

    Of course, the real-life abuelita is perfectly fine with music being played!

  • For more fun facts about "Coco," along with the key message parents and kids should take away from the film, check out my interview with Adrian Molina.

    Disney Pixar's Coco is officially out as of today on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital!

    *Disclosure -- I attended the trip to Oaxaca, Mexico on behalf of Disney Pixar, and my travel, meals, tours, and accommodations were provided by them. However, all opinions and thoughts expressed in this article are my own, and were not influenced by Disney Pixar.