Mexico Tourism

Disney’s film, Coco celebrates Mexico’s Day of the Dead

As the millions of fans of Disney’s Coco, know, the Lee Unkrich-directed Pixar film leans heavily on Day of the Dead imagery and a warmth of spirit that has led critics to call it “a love letter to Mexico.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Mariachi Divas perform at the U.S. Premiere of Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ at the El Capitan Theatre on November 8, 2017, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney)

Like the Disney film, Frozen before it, which led thousands of travelers to book trips to Norway, Coco is poised to introduce a whole new set of travelers (and multi-generational traveling families) to the places and traditions whose color and charm helped the film reap $190 million domestically and $600 million around the world.  When contacted, Adventures by Disney commented that no current plans for Coco-inspired trips were on their horizon, but it can be assumed that if the DVD-release continues Coco’s box-office reign, trips to places connected with the film will soon be front and center on Disney’s travel itineraries.

In the meantime, intrepid travelers can create a trip to Mexico infused with the same marigold and cayenne colors we see in the film, and with the same artful traditions from The Day of The Dead and other Mexican cultural treasures.

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Day of the Dead artifacts

As with Frozen, where Disney animators made an advance trip to Norway to scope out real places for inspiration, Coco’s animators journeyed to Mexico for multiple trips to find visual metaphors for Héctor, Miguel and the family Rivera as well as for Frida Kahlo, who plays an important (although posthumous) role in the film.

The town in which the Riveras live was inspired by Santa Fe de la Laguna in the Michoacán region of Mexico. The small town, next to Lake Patzcuaro, was founded in 1533, and is replete with colonial-era charm as well as strong ties to the indigenous community of the Purepecha people whose customs and traditions inspired the filmmakers.

Replica guitars from ‘Coco’ the movie are pictured at a store, in Paracho, Michoacan. The success of Disney Pixar movie ‘Coco’ triggered guitar sales in the small town of Paracho, Michoacan.  / AFP PHOTO / Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by YEMELI ORTEGA (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Family travelers echoing the Rivera family odyssey will be enchanted by the town’s cobbled streets and an elegantly simple town church, as well as by a strong tradition in handicrafts and cooking. 

In Mexico City, Coco-lovers will find the structure that inspired the Land of the Dead’s massive building complex and its “Department of Family Reunions.” The Palacio de Correos de Mexico was one of the first cast-iron buildings in Mexico, opened in 1907 as the country’s flagship postal office.