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When Toy Story 4 hits screens in a couple of weeks, it will reintroduce fans to the character of Bo Peep voiced by Annie Potts. However, the movie theater isn't the only place you'll be able to get a look at the brand new version of the character. You can now find Bo Peep at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World inside Toy Story Land as well as visiting Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort.
As it happened, the same day that the Disney Parks Blog officially announced that a Bo Peep walk around character was coming to the parks, I was at Pixar Animation Studios learning all about Toy Story 4. I got to sit down that day with a couple members of "Team Bo," the collection of animators, story artists, and more, who worked together to craft this new version of the character and I asked them how it felt to see their creation come to life in this new way in the parks.
As one can imagine, they were thrilled, but I also learned that they were actually quite involved in working with the team at Disney in order to fine tune everything about the character so that that the costumed version in the parks would be true to the creation on the screen. As directing animator Becki Tower explained...
The Disney artists would ask us ‘OK, how would she hold someone’s hand? How would she kneel down to greet a child? Would this be in character, would that be in character? How would she stand? What would her default stances be? Would you play her this way or this way?’ And It was just so interesting to be like, you know, we make these choices every day on the screen, but to make it for someone in the walk around, like, set up rules and principles was just a whole other level of like wow, yeah attention to detail. How would she walk around carry her staff and how would she stand? It was really fun.
"Attention to detail" is something of an understatement when it comes to Disney Parks. It's clear there's a certain level of obsession among Walt Disney Imagineering that would probably qualify as a mental disorder in other vocations. Every detail is dealt in excruciating, well, detail, with to make you feel like you're in another world when you're inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
It seems that level of detail drills all the way down to working with the animators to make sure the costumed character stands in a way that is appropriate. Some of these things, like how Bo Peep would normally stand while at rest, you can be sure the animators had already considered when drawing her for the screen. Others, like how Bo Peep might greet a child, maybe not.
Of course, the Bo Peep at Walt Disney World is going to greet a lot of children, so it's an important detail. Answering these questions also allows the Disney Parks people to standardize the performance of the character. Without telling a cast member how to move as Bo Peep, everybody who performs the character is going to do things a little differently, and that means the illusion that your child is hugging Bo Peep, and not somebody in a costume of Bo Peep, is going to be broken.
From what I've been told, anybody performing a walk around character who is capable of giving a child an autograph is trained to give the signature in an identical fashion for the same reason, to give the impression that the character is the same no matter who is doing the performance. It's just another impressive detail.
The version of Bo Peep in the parks is specifically the version created for Toy Story 4, which means the costume is a little different. Bo Peep has been a "lost toy" for years prior to the events of the film, so she's no longer the shepherd in the big dress. She's got a bit more of an action hero feel to her as she's been living on her own, without a child to care for her.
This new design of the character was the effort of a group of women within Pixar referred to as Team Bo. These women came from a variety of different disciplines within the company and worked together to design Bo Peep from every angle.
When the work was all done, the new character was brought by the Pixar studio before Bo Peep debuted in the parks. As Story Artist Carrie Hobson told me, it was an amazing thing for Team Bo to see, because it meant their work was going to live on in an entirely new and unexpected way...
It’s awesome. They brought the walk around here. We got to see here and it was just like ‘wow’ your mind is blown that you’re working on this animated character and there’s a whole movie about her for one, and two, oh my gosh, she’s going to be in the parks too. It’s just really exciting that she’s going to live on.
The Toy Story franchise is already the flagship title for Pixar and the movies are beloved, so it seems quite likely that Toy Story 4 isn't going to be a movie that's forgotten anytime soon. Having said that, in a couple of years, when Pixar has moved on to making other movies, these locations like Toy Story Land and Pixar Pier are still going to be around and vacationers and diehard fans will be visiting them every single day. Some of these characters and attractions have been popular since the parks opened so Bo Peep could still be greeting children in exactly the same way decades from now.
Seeing your animated creation on the movie screen certainly has to be an amazing feeling all by itself, but seeing that same creation literally come to life at Disneyland has to be equally exciting. There you'll get to see the children who love the character experience her in a way that just isn't possible anyplace else. It's part of the magic of theme parks like Disneyland, you truly can feel like you're inside your favorite stories and can interact with your favorite characters.
Bo Peep can now be fount at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and also Disneyland Paris. Toy Story 4 hits theaters June 21.