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Disney Behind the Scenes: The Making of Zootopia


Zootopia TeamDisney provided me with a trip to Los Angeles in exchange for my coverage of this and other movie releases. No other compensation is given. All opinions, experiences, memories and character crushes are 100% my own.

I recently had the exciting opportunity to visit Disneytoon Studios and interview producer Clark Spencer along with directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard.


These guys are part of the team that literally spent years of their lives dreaming up and building the world of Zootopia. In the process of building this world, they knew the importance of this project as any new world that Disney introduces becomes an iconic part of animation history and they took this assignment very seriously.


Research in Africa

The team literally went across the world to research for this film. Watching animal behaviors was a huge part of the process of bringing these characters to life in realistic and believable ways.

Byron shared with us how they would observe the animals in their natural habitat and from there they would

At one point, we camped at 20 or 30 feet from a watering hole where animals of all kinds come in during the day to, to drink. And what we noticed was amazing. We noticed that animals, predator and prey, lions would come and drink right next to antelope and zebra, which they normally eat. And during the day, they just come in, they see each other. They’re aware of each other, but they just drink, they give each other a look, and they go their separate ways.

So everyone is very well behaved around the watering hole. We thought that’s really interesting. That’s like two groups that normally don’t get along, they have to figure out how to work together, and we thought that’s a very interesting sort of parallel to our own world. 

And it was these types of observations from which the world of Zootopia was created!


It’s all in the Details…

So as we have learned, a LOT of research went into making the animals in this film believable and accurate. But a lot of work also went into making the city functional and making sure that things were set up for all sizes of animals. That wasn’t an easy task, but Byron explained to us how it all came together, how  Zootopia had to be built for every size of mammal. They had to accommodate the largest and smallest animals. Newspaper stands that would have papers up high for the elephants and down low for the mice. Subways that would work for all passengers: 

Zootopia Subway

In a movie like this, scale is a BIG (and little) deal. This fun graphic shows just how much size difference there is between the largest and smallest animals. It was also a challenge to get all of the animals upright and on two feet. By studying the animals and their movements and behaviors, they were able to do this for each and every animal in the film. I’m pretty impressed with how natural they were able to make all of these creatures look, aren’t you?

Zootopia Size Chart

I had the chance to try my hand at drawing with Byron. He made it look easy and with his direction, I was able to draw my own version of Clawhauser.

Animation Clawhauser

The Story

Of course, for this whole idea of a Zootopia city, they needed a story to bring the whole thing together. Byron shared with us how that all came to be, and why it works, and that it all started with an optimistic little bunny named Judy Hopps meeting up with a sly fox named Nick Wilde. Two very unlikely partners, that team up for some great adventures despite that fact that they truly are natural born enemies!

Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps

ZOOTOPIA will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on June 7th!

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.



on Facebook and Twitter. Also check out the ZOOTOPIA website!

I jumped right on the subway to Zootopia, it just seems like my kind of place:


zootopia dvdRemember! ZOOTOPIA will be available on Blu-ray and DVD June 7th! You can pre-order on Amazon here.

Photo Credits: Disney

Meet the author – Keri Lyn

The creative and frugal mind behind She Saved for over 12 years now, Keri Lyn shares her adventures in parenting along with her love for family travel, country living and brand marketing. A self-proclaimed “brand loyalist”, Keri Lyn is known for her strong and enthusiastic voice when it comes to the products and brands that she loves. She Saved has become a community for like-minded consumers who appreciate saving money, time and sanity by getting the best deals on quality products and experiences.

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