Why Onward’s Producer Is Looking Forward To Visiting Disneyland When It Reopens

Ian and Barley at Disneyland

We're probably all making lists of the things we want to do once we actually have our choice again. Maybe you want to go out to eat at your favorite restaurant or simply, like many of us, just go to the movies. Many people might be looking forward to visiting a theme park, perhaps because a planned vacation there had to be rescheduled due to the closure of Disneyland and most other theme parks in the world. Onward producer Kori Rae is also looking forward to visiting Disneyland somewhere down the line but for a very special reason, she wants to see the characters she helped create in their natural environment.

Onward made it's theatrical debut on Friday March 6, but the night before that, Disneyland Resort held a special evening event celebrating all things Pixar, and the special event event at Disney California Adventure included the debut of Onward's Ian and Barley as full walk around characters in the park. When I recently spoke to producer Kori Rae and Onward director Dan Scanlon, Rae mentioned how the team at Pixar had worked with the theme park team to help fine tune the walk around characters, and how thrilling it was to see the animated Ian and Barley as real, tangible, creations. According to Rae...

Our artists in the art department and our character team, they were really involved in helping create those walk arounds. They are amazing. They brought them up to Pixar for Dan and I to approve and give any last notes. It was just an absolute wonder to see them. You work on these movies so long and then you’re like ‘wait a minute, the characters came to life, how is that possible?’ It was a thrilling day, it was really, really fun. I can’t wait to see them in the parks when things get back to normal.

Making a movie that may stand the test of time has to be a big deal already, but seeing that creation not just as a story on the screen, but as something physical, like a theme park attraction or a character you can touch, or hug if that's your thing, seems to create a very different feeling. The Onward duo clearly got a kick out of seeing Ian and Barley as "real" characters in a way that was clearly different then seeing them on the screen.

While Ian and Barley's time at Disneyland was cut short, with the park closing barely a week after they debuted, the good news is that even more people have access to their movie versions. Onward is now available on Disney+ or for digital purchase, only a month after the film was released in theaters.

And one assumes they'll be back at Disney California Adventure when the park reopens, we simply don't know when that will be.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.