WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
While the red panda is a symbolic animal for the Lee family, many other iconic Pixar and pop culture icons make an appearance in Turning Red. From Inside Out‘s Triple Dent gum to the infamous Pizza Planet truck, did you spot all these hidden secrets, references, and Easter eggs?
Mei’s Transit Pass Foreshadows Her Transformation
The number on Mei’s Toronto Transit pass is “F65D21” which is the hex color code for a shade of red-orange, much like the red panda she is about to transform into.
Stickers on Miriam’s Skateboard Reference Lightyear
Pixar movies usually have a hidden Easter egg that references the next Pixar film. Therefore, Miriam’s skateboard has two stickers that shout out the upcoming movie, Lightyear. The first sticker is the robot cat, Sox which appears in the film’s trailer as Buzz Lightyear’s feline companion. The second sticker, underneath the board’s wheels, is the Space Rangers’ logo.
Bao Restaurant from Pixar Short Spotted in the City
As soon as Mei hops off the bus to rush home, fans might have caught a reference to another Disney classic based on a Chinese Canadian. One of the stores Mei passes by is called “Bao Restaurant” which is a cute shoutout to the Disney short, Bao. This short features a lonely Chinese-Canadian mother who receives a second chance at motherhood when a steamed bun or bao comes to life.
Inside Out’s Triple Dent Gum is for Sale in the Daisy Mart
Remember that catchy jingle from the gum commercial that Riley constantly got stuck in her head in Inside Out? Well, that gum makes an appearance again in Turning Red. The gum, called Triple Dent Gum is stocked on the shelves in the Daisy Mart. You can see it when Mei’s mom storms into the store to confront Devon. This isn’t the first time the gum has made it onto the shelves–it was also spotted in the gas station that the pixies raid in Onward.
Reference from Pixar Short Purl
Turning Red is filled with references to many Disney short films. In Mei’s room, you can spot a pinkish purple keychain hanging from her desk. This key chain looks like a ball of yarn known as Purl from the Disney short, Purl. This film follows a pink ball of yarn who gets hired at a male-dominated company.
Sticker on Mei’s Notebook References Pixar Short Burrow
Mei’s mom enters boss-level mom mode when she finds the doodles of Devon in Mei’s notebook. In this scene, take a look at the stickers on the notebook and you’ll find a little brown rabbit from the Disney short, Burrow. This film features a rabbit who attempts to build the burrow of her dreams.
Potential Sanrio References in Mei’s Room
Mei’s room is full of interesting trinkets and thoughtful easter eggs. Take a look at the shelf above her bed and you might recognize some characters from your childhood. The dolls look a lot like Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Badtz-Maru, and Keropi.
Mulan’s Eggs and Bacon
In the classic 1998 Disney movie, Mulan eats porridge with bacon and eggs in the shape of a smiley face. This meal is actually a Chinese dish called congee and it seems as though Mei’s mom has the same recipe. At the beginning of Turning Red, she makes a smiley-faced congee just like Mulan’s breakfast.
Take a look behind the cute breakfast, and you’ll also find some donut holes from Tim Hortons, which adds a nice little nod to Canada.
Mei’s Crush Rocks a Band Shirt from Coco
We’re introduced to one of Mei’s crushes at the beginning of the film, and if you look at his shirt you might learn a little more about his taste in music. Escápula is a heavy metal band that played at the Battle of the Bands in Coco‘s Land of the Dead.
Kevin from Up is Preserved in Science Class
After Mei turns into the Red Panda at school she scrambles to run away and hide. During her run, we get a glimpse inside the science classroom and eagle-eyed fans can find a skeleton that looks a lot like Kevin from Up.
As Mei storms the streets in her newfound red panda body, she passes by colorful sheets attached to some of the homes. The perforated sheets of paper are called “papel picado” and was featured prominently in Coco.
Raya Easter Egg
During her journey home, Mei passes by some kids playing basketball and behind the hoop, there’s some street art that resembles Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon.
The Red Moon Being on the 25th is a Nod to Pixar
In order to banish the Red Panda, Mei’s mom stated that they had to wait until the next red moon. When Mei’s dad searches the calendar for when the next red moon will occur, he finds out that it will happen on May 25th, 2002. The number 25 is significant because Turning Red is Pixar’s 25th film.
According to Turning Red director Domee Shi and producer Lindsey Collins, the film was set in 2002 to give it a cultural vibe with modern technology that was not so distracting. “I think we established early on that it was going to be a period piece, in more ways than one,” said Shi. “The reason why is because I just have such nostalgic and fond memories of that era and I thought wouldn’t it be so fun to bring it to life on the big screen in an animated film. There’s something about the culture, the fashion and the music that is just so specific and funny. It was just a really fun and cool time.”
Collins added, “The technology was at such an interesting time, because it was kind of modern and yet not so distracting, you know?”
Finding Nemo Sticker in the Girl’s Bathroom
When the girls are in the bathroom plotting how they’re going to make money to go to the 4 Town concert, take a look at the bathroom stall and you’ll find a friendly face that’ll remind them to just keep swimming.
“Be Water” Bruce Lee Quote
When the students are playing dodgeball, the gym teacher says “Be Water” which is a reference to Bruce Lee’s famous quote. As a highly influential Asian-American, it was only natural for Turning Red to pay tribute to the iconic martial arts guru.
Rainbow Unicorn from Inside Out
As the red panda’s popularity surged, students in her school whipped out their phones to sound the alarm about panda pictures. If you take a look at the cell phone on the left, you’ll find a picture of a rainbow unicorn that looks a lot like the one from Inside Out.
Monster’s Inc Shirt and Abby’s Resemblance to Boo
The Pixar film Monster’s Inc. is referenced twice through the use of clothing. One of the students at Mei’s school wears a yellow shirt with a one-eyed monster that looks like it could’ve been scaring kids on the scare floor.
Also, if you take a look at Abby’s overalls, they’re covered with flowers that look a lot like the flowers that covered Boo’s door in the original Monster’s Inc. Some fans even theorize that Abby is a grown-up version of Boo.
Luxo Ball Takes a Dip in Tyler’s Pool
Tyler’s birthday party featured an appearance by the popular red panda, but it was also the scene of a Luxo Ball sighting. The iconic ball can be found floating in the pool as Mei and her friends look out at the party.
Green Banishes the Red Panda
Red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel, and therefore Mei’s family utilizes the color green to banish the red panda. This is why they all wear green during the banishment scene and why Mei is teleported to an area surrounded by green bamboo.
The Infamous Pizza Planet Truck
As you probably know, the Pizza Planet truck has appeared incognito in just about every Pixar film. Therefore, you can be sure to find it in Turning Red as Mei races towards the SkyDome for the 4*Town concert. It is parked on the side of the street, probably delivering pizzas to some Pixar fans.
This one is quite obvious, but in case you missed it, 4*Town references every 90s boy band ever created. The name itself is a reference to the band O-town and includes an asterisk, just like the band *NSYNC. When the band performs at the SkyDome, the band members are wearing white clothes and angel wings, which is very reminiscent of the Backstreet Boy’s heavenly performance at the end of the movie, This is the End.
Devon is at the 4*Town Concert
Remember Devon? After Mei’s mom chastises him at the Daisy Mart, he seemingly disappears from the movie. However, if you take a look at the audience at the 4*Town concert, you’ll find him again as he rocks out to tunes of the infamous boy band.
A113 was the classroom number for many original Pixar artists at the California Institute of the Arts. Therefore, the number has snuck its way into most Pixar films. You can find the number written on the Chalker that Mei’s father uses to draw the circle around his wife.
A113 4 Town Ticket in the Credits
The number A113 also makes an appearance during the end credits. As the credits are rolling down your screen, watch for 4*Town tickets to appear on the left side of the screen. The ticket number is A113.
Priya’s Book References Twilight
At the beginning of the movie, we’re introduced to Priya and she’s reading a book called Nightfall which is a very clear reference to Twilight.
Every Reference to Canada
Since the movie takes place in Canada, Turning Red wrote a love letter to its homeland. See if you spotted all of these Canadian references:
- A blue jay is sitting outside the SkyDome at the end of the movie. The blue jay references Toronto’s baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
- Tyler wears a jersey with the number 15 on it, which looks a lot like the jersey basketball player Vince Carter wore for the Toronto Raptors.
- In math class, there’s a 1980 Winter Games poster. This is the year when Canada returned to the Winter Games.
- Mei’s school is named after the Prime Minister of Canada from the 60s, Lester B. Pearson.
- The school mascot is the beavers.
- Mei’s mom has a moose bobblehead on the dashboard of her car.
- Mei wears pajamas with a maple leaf on them after her mom confronts Devon at the Daisy Mart.
- There’s a lot of Canadian maple syrup on the shelf in the Daisy Mart.
- You can find Tim Horton’s donut holes on the kitchen table when Mei’s mom makes breakfast.
Were you able to find any other Easter eggs, hidden references, or secrets in Turning Red? Let me know in the comments!