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Creating Piston Peak National Park

When you think about the amount of research that goes into making an animated film, it’s no wonder that they take years to create. When I was in LA a few months back, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the folks involved in the research of Planes: Fire & Rescue and got a better understanding of the entire process.

Piston Peak National Park is a fictional combination of Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park and is the handy work of Toby Wilson, Art Director for Planes: Fire & Rescue. He was tasked with the heavy load of creating Piston Peak National Park from the ground up.

Planes fire and rescue mural at disneytoon studios

Toby wanted to make Piston Peak National Park as real as possible so he visited both, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks where he experienced the sounds, sights and even smells of a park. To make an animated film as real as possible, he knew that he would have to experience it to be able to translate it to film.

toby wilson art director disneytoon studios

As I’m sure you can imagine, thousands of photographs were taken and many hours of interviews were conducted in order for Toby to absorb everything he could to draw a setting, where a story could be told authentically as possible.

planes fire and rescue mural at disneytoon studios

So many of the details you find in the movie can be attributed to things he learned and saw during his research. Grand Fusel Lodge, where most of the film is set, is actually made to resemble Old Faithful Inn. One particular element that should be noted is the exterior sprinkler system, which is used to soak the building in case of a wildfire.

And a park just isn’t a park without trees. There are 2.5 million pine trees in Piston Peak National Park, all of which had to be drawn and placed strategically amongst the other elements of the film to create a cohesive and natural look. The foliage that was used was chosen because it is indigenous to the pacific northwest. If you look really carefully, you may even notice the spark plug pine cones.

Planes: Fire & Rescue has a very utilitarian feel to it and if I’m not mistaken, may be the beginning to a new franchise. Trains, maybe?

You can find all my Planes: Fire & Rescue coverage here:

Have you seen Planes: Fire & Rescue yet?

About Crystal

Crystal Reagan, the owner and founder of SimplyBeingMommy.com lives in Small Town, Texas with her husband and 3 children. Crystal and her website have been featured on local and national news stations including Channel 2 Houston and ABC News. She has also appeared on BetterTV as a Mommy Expert for VTech.


  1. 1

    This looks like such a fun place to go to get away. I love That it’s connected to the movie too.

  2. 2

    My boys would love something like this when they were younger. I love how they are really bringing movies to life with things like this.

  3. 3

    There is SO much research that’s gone into making the movie seem “real”. What an amazing job to be able to turn those two parks into an animated film. And wow, SO many trees!

  4. 4

    We took Matthew to see this for his birthday!! It was a great movie.

  5. 5
    Cayce Lovato says:

    How fun!!! We haven’t seen this movie yet, but now I’m excited to! Thanks for sharing!

  6. 6

    I love how much detail they put into their movies. We are going to see this soon!

  7. 7

    This place sounds awesome!

  8. 8
    Angela S says:

    I love that they combined elements from Yosemite and Yellowstone! It’s so neat to learn about the making of this movie.

  9. 9

    We still need to see the movie! I know Sawyer would love it!

  10. 10

    No we haven’t seen it yet. If they came out with trains it would make my son’s day!

  11. 11

    It always amazes me how much thought and research goes into EVERYTHING in these movies! I can’t wait to see Planes 2, we’re taking my son this month.

  12. 12

    I love all the attention to detail Disney puts into their animated movies. It makes it feel so real. Loved Piston Peak and how they created it!

  13. 13

    Oh so fun! My boys are stoked about the movie, but we haven’t had a chance to go see it yet!

  14. 14

    That looks so neat! WE need to go see that soon. My kids love this kind of movie.

  15. 15

    I guess I never really think about the work that goes on when it comes to settings and scenery. Definitely very interesting!

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