In Disney•Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” Arlo the Apatosaurus is taught follow the river in order to find his way back home. However, it would appear that he might have followed the wrong body of water and ended up finding his way to Disney Springs instead. To promote the film’s home entertainment release, a photo opportunity featuring a large cutout of Arlo and feral human friend, Spot, was installed between the Strawberry parking lot and the West Side’s “Cirque du Solei Theater.” While “The Good Dinosaur” may be brand new, its roots can be traced back to the early days of Disney animation.
While its more famous for its mice, ducks, and princesses, the Walt Disney Company has a long association with dinosaurs. In 1940, the studio released the groundbreaking “Fantasia,” which featured a segment depicting prehistory, most notable the time of the dinosaurs, set to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Years later, some of the visuals of this film, including the life-or-death battle between a stegosaurus and a tyrannosaurus rex, would go on to inspire the early Imagineers while working on exhibits for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. At the Disney-produced Ford Pavilion, visitors could observe an audio-animatronics recreation of that scene and others as they rode the “Ford Magic Skyway”.
One of the many children who experienced the Ford Pavilion during its two year run at the World’s Fair was Bob Peterson. As an adult, Peterson has contributed greatly to several beloved Pixar projects including “Monster Inc,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Up” as well as pitching the original concept for “The Good Dinosaur.” When the film was first announced at the 2011 “D23 Expo” in Anaheim, he explained that seeing the dinosaurs Walt Disney’s Imagineers created for “Magic Skyway” left a major impression on him that eventually led to the idea for Pixar’s 16th animated feature.
65 million years after they disappeared from the face of the earth, and mysteries of the dinosaurs continue to fascinate us. As a company that specializes in bringing the impossible to life, it makes sense that Disney has sought to resurrect these prehistoric creatures in various film and theme park projects over the years. As the latest evolution of this concept, Arlo and company from “The Good Dinosaur” continues that legacy and perhaps will make a mark of its own on the next generation of dinosaur fans.