6 animated movies inspired by real Bay Area places

Animated movies are full of surreal fantasy places that we wish were real. Often times, the towns resonate in our hearts just as much as the characters themselves. What would Roger Rabbit be without Toon Town? Gotham City without Batman? Could you see Spongebob flipping burgers anywhere other than the Krusty Krab in Bikini Bottom? Of course not.

The animators had to have drawn inspiration from somewhere, and some of your favorite locations from Disney films have their roots firmly planted in places near you. It’s time to let your inner child roam free as you travel to these real destinations around the Bay Area.


Screenshot from “Inside Out’ movie trailer.

While San Francisco may be known for a lot of things, pizza is probably not one of them — at least according to Riley from the Disney Pixar movie “Inside Out.” After her father accepts a job in San Francisco, Riley battles with managing her emotions because she misses the Midwest lifestyle that she’d always known. In attempt to cheer her up, Riley’s mother takes her on a trip to a local pizza joint.

When they get there, Riley is faced with a kid’s worst nightmare: broccoli pizza. While San Francisco thrives upon hipster, health trendy places like this, according to SF Gate, the pizzeria in the film is actually based on Emeryville’s Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria. Arizmendi is known for only serving vegetarian-friendly pizza.

Screenshot from the movie “Up.”

In the Pixar film “Up,” the elderly and widowed Carl finds companionship in the unlikely form of the wilderness explorer Russell, who desperately wants to earn his Assisting the Elderly badge. After being attacked by crazed talking dogs during an otherworldly trip to Paradise Falls, Carl and Russell take a moment to enjoy their ice cream cones outside of Fenton’s Creamery. In business since 1894, this Oakland ice cream shop claims to be the birthplace of the Rocky Road flavor.

Screenshot from the ending credits of “Up.”

During the ending credits of the movie “Up,” we see a photo of Carl and Russell going to see “Star Wars” at a vintage movie theater. This theater most closely resembles Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. While you may not be able to follow in their footsteps and see the “Star Wars” reboot, I’d recommend checking out “Captain America: Civil War.”

Etch A Sketch photo. Source.

After Andy decides to leave Woody behind on his way to cowboy camp in “Toy Story 2,” Woody discovers that Andy’s mother is holding a yard sale to get rid of some of his old toys. When Woody sets out to rescue the helpless toys, he gets stolen by a greedy toy collector and taken back to his apartment. Buzz Lightyear and his gang of toys stumble upon a TV commercial inviting people to Al’s Toy Barn, which is owned by Al McWhiggin, Woody’s abductor.

When Etch A Sketch draws a map of Al’s Toy Barn, the address displays 1001 West Cutting Boulevard in Richmond, Calif. The address also reappears when the Pizza Planet delivery boy enters the Dinoco gas station and asks for directions to West Cutting Blvd. 1001 West Cutting Blvd was the original address of the Pixar Animation Studios before it moved to Emeryville in 2000.

Screenshot from Disney Pixar movie trailers.

As the camera pans a day in the life of Monstropolis, it pauses on a monster sweeping his storefront at The Hidden City Café. The real Hidden City Café was once located Point Richmond, Calif., Calif. While it may not have served the “Predator Lunch Special,” the Hidden City Café is said to be the birthplace of many beloved Pixar animated films.

Before Pixar relocated to Emeryville, directors would frequent the café on their lunch breaks. While discussing the completion of the original “Toy Story” film, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Peter Docter and Joe Ranft brainstormed ideas for “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo,” and “WALL-E.” The café has since closed its doors, and was replaced by Kaleidoscope Coffee in 2014. Hidden City was the original name of the film, before taking the title “Monsters, Inc.”

Screenshot from the movie “Ratatouille”

In “Ratatouille,” Paris resident Remy has a knack for exquisite French dining. He dreams of becoming a chef, despite the danger of being an unlikely and unwanted candidate. Remy is a rat. When he winds up in the sewer beneath a restaurant headed by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau, he could not pass up the opportunity to check it out.

While the film may be set in Paris, animators drew inspiration from a restaurant closer to home, The French Laundry in Yountville. In fact, the Pixar crew took cooking classes and worked alongside Thomas Keller, the head chef and proprietor of the three-star Michelin restaurant, for six years prior to making the film.

[Thanks for reading. This story originally appeared on ripple.co. If you like what you read, please check out more of Amanda’s Ripple stories.]