Where to explore the real-life inspiration behind Pixar's Coco
The creators of the Disney-Pixar film Coco took inspiration from the incredible architectural and artistic legacy across Mexico to create the visual kaleidoscope that makes the film so engaging. Now Disney and the Mexican Tourism board are teaming up to create tours and itineraries specifically for people enchanted by Miguel’s amazing journey into the Land of the Dead.
With Dia de Muertos right around the corner, folks are preparing their sugar skulls and marigold-covered ofrendas to honour departed loved ones. Take a look at all these places that brought the movie to life for a little Day of the Dead inspiration of your own.
For a traditional and captivating look at a Dia de Muerto festival, Coco creators travelled to Aquascalientes to experience the Festival de las Calaveras. Every year at Isla San Marcos revellers create amazingly artistic displays, costumes and edibles honouring the skeletons. At Cruz and Angeles cemeteries you can take a guided tour and participate in one of the most well-known ceremonies, ilumínale los pies al muerto or light up the feet of the dead one.
The central state of Michoacan houses multiple destinations that lent their beauty to Coco’s creation. The church tower in Miguel’s hometown of Santa Cecilia was modelled on one that lays partially buried under lava in San Juan Parangaricutiro.
Meantime, the guitar town of Paracho has been making high-quality stringed instruments by hand since time immemorial. It was here that Coco-creators found the design for Ernesto’s guitar detailed with a black skull and pearls. Paracho was also the former home of guitar-maker, German Vazquez who worked with Disney-Pixar to create the beautiful instruments in the movie.
And finally, Patzcuaro, situated in the hills above a lake is the small town that served as inspiration for Santa Cecilia. The cobblestone streets are lined with adobe structures painted white and red and the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga plays host to food, jewellery and art sellers as well as street musicians and performers.
Further north, the extraordinary city of Guanajuato was the main source of inspiration for the Land of the Dead. Multi-coloured houses meander up the steep hill behind the main square crammed in with opulent colonial buildings, just like those Miguel sees when he first ventures into the Land of the Dead. In the Plaza del Ropero you will find a life-sized bronze statue dedicated to actor and musician Jorge Negrete similar to the one in Coco that honours Ernesto de la Cruz.
Finally, travel south to Oaxaca. The Zapotec hilltop city of Monte Alban features the remains of temples and tombs that also lent their design aesthetic to the Land of the Dead in Coco. In the city of Oaxaca you will find Zapateria La Moda, the shoe store the inspired the tradition of shoemaking in Miguel’s family. And finally, alebrijes (wooden Zapotec figurines that serve as protectors of families) are a time-honoured tradition in Oaxaca in particular in San Martin Tilcajete. It is here that you will find the workshop of Jacobo and Maria Angeles who create amazing carvings that inspired Pepita, the flying super-cat that protects the Rivera family in the Land of the Dead.