Disney’s next animated film, Zootopia will open in theaters on March 4, 2016. Over the next several weeks/months I will be posting a look at the film with material provided during a advanced preview I was able to attend from the Walt Disney Studios that gave those in attendance a look of the who, what and where of the film. I already posted links to the who (Zootopia Voice Talent Release) several weeks ago.
This post takes a look at the where. Zootopia is a city created by animals for animals. It caters to all species, shapes, sizes, and requirements of the animals from the smallest to the largest. The film takes place in six primary districts of the city – Sahara Square, Tundratown, Bunnyburrow, Rain Forest District, Savanna Central & Little Rodentia. Below are posters for four of the districts and then a brief description for each that Disney Released.
Sahara Square is made up of sand dunes and buildings that are shaped like sand dunes. “The heart of Sahara Square is inspired by Monte Carlo and Dubai,” says Matthias Lechner, art director of environments. “We learned that desert animals are mostly nocturnal because it’s too hot during the day. So we built lots of nighttime activities—casinos and a giant palm-tree hotel with an oasis surrounding it.”
Sahara Square features a warm palette of reds, oranges and yellows.
Tundratown, constructed mainly of snow and ice, features a cool color palette with blues and teals. “There are giant snow blowers,” says Lechner. “They go off periodically—they’re part of the climate control. Nothing ever thaws. We have floating blocks of ice instead of moving sidewalks. Cars are on skis.”
Designers added spots of color with strategically placed neon lights, playing with reflections and shadows to add interest and dimension to the area.
The Rain Forest District is home to hundreds of giant, bright, jungle-green steamer trees—artificial trees that mechanically suck up water from a river to create the steamy atmosphere required by the locals. “The rain forest is a vertical environment with walkways, bridges and gondolas,” says Lechner.
According to Goetz, the sheer number of trees—more than half a million—illustrates one of the many major advances in technology that allowed the artists to create the incredible detailed environments in Zootopia.
Bunnyburrow, Judy Hopps’ hometown, is inhabited mostly by carrot farmers like Judy’s parents. Vast, sprawling open space contrasts with the busy city streets of Zootopia.
“It’s a very rural part of this world,” says Howard. “It’s about 200 miles away from the city of Zootopia. If Zootopia were Manhattan, Bunnyburrow is like Yonkers—way out in the country. Bunnies are born there and live out their lives there. Nobody quite understands why in the world Judy would want to leave—and move to the big city of all places.”
Savanna Central houses Zootopia Police Department (ZPD), City Hall and Central Station, the bustling train station where Judy Hopps lands when she first arrives in town. Modeled in part after Disneyland’s hub-and-spoke design—Savanna Central is Zootopia’s central hub. “It’s our version of the watering hole,” says Goetz. “Animals from each of the districts converge here.”
Details include a central water feature and a savanna theme with acacia trees and warm tones: oranges and grays with olive foliage.
Little Rodentia is where Zootopia’s smallest mammals reside. “It is an entirely tiny town with rodent-sized housing, shops and streets,” says Lechner. “It’s surrounded by a big fence so that big animals can’t walk through it.”
It may be small, but Little Rodentia has all of the big-city luxuries, including a chic hair salon that caters to tiny high-end clientele.