dumbo easter eggs

Since the animated musical Dumbo hit theaters in 1941, the lovable, big-eared elephant has become an iconic Disney mascot, as recognizable as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. That can be partially attributed to Dumbo’s outsized presence at Disney Parks, with the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride becoming a longtime hallmark of Disneyland, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. But the original 1941 animated film also holds a special place in Disney fans’ hearts, not just for the heart-wrenching effect of the film’s famous “Baby Mine” scene, but for Dumbo‘s bolder, weirder sequences, like the trippy pink elephants.

Tim Burton‘s Dumbo pays homage to all of this and more. The film has to fly high while carrying the baggage of expectations before it, but producers Derek Frey and Justin Springer, as well as costume designer Colleen Atwood, told journalists during a visit to the set of Dumbo that this will only make the live-action adaptation soar more.

Disney Parks Meet Dumbo

For the team behind Dumbo, they had the opportunity to essentially create a brand-new amusement park. But within that amusement park were more than a few Dumbo Easter eggs that fans can find. Frey and Springer were coy on what those Easter eggs were, but teased that the homages to the Disney Parks inevitably came through, despite the different time periods in which businessman V.A. Vandervere’s (Michael Keaton) fictional Dreamland exists and Walt Disney’s Disneyland was first conceived. Springer said:

Some of the Parks-specific stuff, maybe some of it’s intentional, but the other part of it is, it’s the creation of a modern amusement park conception the early 1900s, which is a little of what Walt Disney was doing. So you can’t help but be influenced by some of those ideas, and also that notion of looking forward into the future. And it fits our story specifically in ways that’s necessary.

“I hope the Imagineers take some of this stuff and build a new Dumbo world at Disney because we’ve kind of gifted them a whole world they can build,” Frey quipped.

Easter Eggs From Concept to Screen

The Dumbo team didn’t intend to plant tons of Easter eggs in their live-action film, but in the process bringing the movie from concept art to the big screen, they inevitably made their way into the story. “One thing I can say about the concepts on this film: Probably more than any other film I’ve worked on with Tim, these concepts translate directly into what we’re seeing,” Frey said, adding:

“It’s almost incredible how these images match what we’re doing in the live-action environment. So anything you see up there [concept art] it’s going to be in the live-action, and there may ended up being a lot more references to the original than we thought going into the film.”

That includes a unique Tim Burton twist on the original film’s famous pink elephants sequence, which the Beetlejuice director seems uniquely suited to tackling. Although Burton has adopted a significantly lighter touch with Dumbo, Frey promises, “You’ll get his take on it… That’s something that he incorporated into the film rather last minute, and that’s something visually fun and a surprise.” The sequence was created with 3D in mind, which Frey notes will add an extra layer of surrealism to the sequence.

And for Burton fans, don’t be anxious that the director is losing is signature Gothic touch. While Atwood strayed away from Burton’s staple black-and-white stripes and Victorian aesthetics, she made sure to put in a “wink to the Tim fans and to Tim too.

“[While the clowns’ costumes have] period shapes… those swirls are kind of a nod to the Tim that you expect. It’s a combination of a skeleton and a swirl. So that’s my check-off, my wink to the Tim fans and to Tim too. We have about 15 of them on balls going around a circle in the circus.”

See the concept art for Dumbo below.

Dumbo flies into theaters on March 29, 2019.

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