A few years ago, eagle-eyed Disney fanatics spotted something very, very cool in the background, er, foreground of “Inside Out” – it was a portrait of Figment, the purple dragon from the Imagination Pavilion. Originally created by Imagineer Tony Baxter for the Journey into Imagination attraction that opened on March 5, 1983, Figment is a carefree personification of creativity and was an instantly iconic Disney character. (It’s current incarnation as Journey Into Imagination with Figment is a pale imitation. But the character still rules.) So it made sense that director Pete Docter, a longtime Disney Parks fan, would find a way to include the thematically-similar dragon into “Inside Out.”
But at a recent press day for “Toy Story 4,” we found out that Figment had somehow found his way back into Pixar! Specifically, there’s a game at the carnival where much of the movie takes place, called Dragon Zone. And wouldn’t you know it? The dragon on the logo is purple and has orange horns and might even be the same image on the painting in “Inside Out.”
So when we sat down with “Toy Story 4” director Josh Cooley and producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen, we had to ask: who put Figment into “Toy Story 4?”
Here’s how that brief conversation played out:
Jonas Rivera: I am a fan of Figment and the original Journey into Imagination.
Mark Nielsen: Is it you more than Pete?
Rivera: Probably me more than Pete. But in “Inside Out” it made sense because it was Imagination Land and we thought it’d be perfect if it was him about to go over the cliff. And we’re really good friends with Tony Baxter, the Imagineer who created that original attraction, so when we were doing the carnival … I think it was Craig Foster, our art director, someone pitched it …
Josh Cooley: Well we always had Dragon Zone as one of the games.
Rivera: And we just worked it in. I’m so glad you saw it.
Nielsen: You were the first person to see it.
So there you go, blame Jonas Rivera, Academy Award-winning producer and (it turns out) Figment superf-an for supplying that epic Disney Parks Easter egg to “Toy Story 4.” As we already know, one little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation …
“Toy Story 4” is out everywhere on June 21st.
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