I actually got to visit Planes Fire & Rescue’s park. You know, when Disney makes a movie, they create a work place that represents the movie they are working on. Filmmakers knew that the backdrop for “Planes: Fire & Rescue” would have to be vast—the main characters can cover a lot of miles in a single scene—and they wanted it to be lush and scenic.
So, they reasoned, why not build our own national park? And it’s behind those doors. They even created a map for us to use so we don’t get lost while we were inside Piston Peak National Park.
Piston Peak National Park comes with a host of landmarks—all designed for a world inhabited by assorted vehicles. “We added a lot of aircraft motifs,” says art director Toby Wilson. “We incorporated items like rotor blades and tail fins throughout the set.”
Of course, our Piston Peak National Park was a smaller version but does give you the idea of what the campgrounds and Ranger Station would look like. I just loved this interactive National Park learning station they created.
It included the Sights and Sounds
And of course there was information on the local wildlife.
To raise the stakes, filmmakers decided on a valley environment that would prove challenging for the high-flying characters. Bigger than the Grand Canyon, Piston Peak measures 12 miles long and four miles wide. “It was hard to have a bad shot in the film,” says Dustin Mackay, previs/layout artist. “The landscape was beautiful and contained. It was a real treat from a cinematic point of view.”
Then the gift shop included post cards. You have to have post cards right?
Piston Peak is the park’s namesake. “We knew the name of the park would mean a piston motif—it’s the iconic shape of the park,” says Wilson.
• The Grand Fusel Lodge adopted the iconic shape from the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone, and took additional cues for building materials from Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel. The Grand Fusel Lodge is loaded with vehicle motifs.
— Each balcony is a helicopter-landing pad.
— There are piston-shaped lanterns.
— The front deck overlooks Gasket Geyser.
— The rugs inside the hotel feature piston and airplane shapes.
— The spa features a mitter curtain
—long strips of fabric that hang in automated car washes.
— The chandeliers are wagon wheels with headlights.
— The fireplace features the grill of an automobile.
— The steam-powered clock is shaped like a gear.
• Augerin Canyon was named for the danger it represented to the air attack team. “Auger in” means to crash a plane into the ground—so it was an appropriate name for the box canyon-like formation that is nearly impossible to navigate. “It serves as our obstacle course for the park,” says Wilson.