Finding Tons of Easter Eggs in 'Finding Dory' (Spoilers!)


Ellen DeGeneres’s charming memory-impaired fish swims into theaters this weekend accompanied by most of the characters of 2003’s Finding Nemo in the latest sure-thing blockbuster from Disney-Pixar. Aside from Dory, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Finding Dory features appearances from old friends like the sea turtles Crush (voiced by the film’s director, Andrew Stanton) and Squirt (Bennett Dammann), Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson) and Nemo’s young school chums, along with a few surprises to reward Nemo devotees (the origin of the “Just Keep Swimming” song, for one). The plot, set just about a year after the events of Nemo, takes us from the Great Barrier Reef to the kelp forests off the California coast, where we meet new friends like Hank the septopus (Ed O’Neill), Destiny the clumsy whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), and the sonar-challenged beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), as well as Dory’s long lost parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy). This being Pixar means we also get a healthy dose of Easter eggs, callbacks, and inside gags for the most attentive fans.

Here are some of the ones that we caught that you can look for the next time you make a date with Dory. And we’re certain that we missed a bunch, so let us know via Twitter or comments if you saw something we didn’t.

Warning: There are some big plot details in here, so stop reading now if you want to avoid being spoiled.

It’s a Pizza Planet and we just live here

Perhaps the best-known of the studio’s traditional Easter eggs, the Pizza Planet truck made its debut in Toy Story and has appeared in every Pixar feature film since. In Dory, we are reasonably* sure that we saw the pickup among the debris scattered in the shipping lanes during the squid scene.


Pay close attention to the squid scene (Disney/Pixar)

That also jibes with what Stanton tweeted out last month, writing that the truck appears toward the beginning of the film when queried by a fan.

(*I say “reasonably” because my 11-year-old son insisted he saw it on the freeway during the frenetic chase scene at the end of the film, but I didn’t see it myself and that’s counter to what Stanton indicated.)

Is Morro Bay near the Tri-County Area?

Stanton and his team based the Marine Life Institute, a.k.a. The Jewel of Morro Bay, on the Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, two facilities near the Pixar’s Bay Area studios and in the same region as Inside Out and Toy Story, among other Pixar films. Those two films featured specific references to the Tri-County Area, firmly establishing them as part of the same universe (see: The Pixar Unification Theory).


The MLI is based on two Bay Area institutions (Disney/Pixar)

Morro Bay is about 230 miles south of San Francisco and while Dory doesn’t have any direct mentions of Tri-County (at least that we caught), the presence of the Pizza Planet truck and the California setting make it easy to believe that Toy Story’s Andy or Inside Out’s Riley could pay MLI a visit.

However, there is a wink to Pixar HQ during the initial scene at the Marine Life Institute: The two staffers who capture Dory are piloting a boat that has a series of numbers stamped on the side including “1200” and “86.” Pixar’s street address is 1200 Park Ave. in Emeryville and the studio was founded in 1986.


Pixar loves hiding Easter eggs in numbers (Disney/Pixar)

The Wire reunion on sea lion rock

Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) and Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) were on opposite sides of the law on HBO’s unmatched crime drama The Wire. But in Finding Dory, Fluke (Elba) and Rudder (West) are a couple of chummy, chatty sea lions who befriend Dory, Marlin, and Nemo — and steal every scene.


Dominic West and Idris Elba of ‘The Wire’ reunite—keep an eye on their flippers for ‘A113’ (Disney/Pixar)

Aside from Elba and West, there are two other TV pairings among Dory’s voice cast. O’Neill and Burrell star in ABC’s hit Modern Family, while the Saturday Night Live tandem of Bill Hader and Kate McKinnon (who happens to do a mean Ellen DeGeneres impersonation) also cameo, playing a pair of fish that Dory meets during her travels.

Where everybody knows your voice

Cheers mainstay John Ratzenberger keeps his string alive, voicing a character for the 17th straight time in a Pixar feature. Like many of his more recent cameos, this one is extremely short — he plays the crab Bill, a denizen of the blue tang exhibit at the MLI. You’ll be forgiven if you didn’t catch it right away: Ratzenberger’s distinctive voice appears to be digitally altered for the part (which is also briefly on display in one of the trailers).


That crab is voiced by John Ratzenberger, even though it doesn’t sound like him (Disney/Pixar)

Sigourney Weaver — the next Ratzenberger?

Weaver, who voiced the computer in the Stanton-directed WALL-E (a play on her Alien work), returns to the Pixar Universe as a disembodied version of her real self. She is the celebrity spokeswoman for the Marine Life Institute and her voice is heard throughout the exhibit halls, becoming a running joke as Dory repeatedly notes that “Sigourney Weaver said so.” This is even funnier for folks who have visited the actual aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, which features a show narrated by Weaver.

Speaking of WALL-E…

A wall calendar in the MLI namechecks the robot protagonist of Pixar’s sci-fi classic.


The calendar literally pays homage to ‘WALL-E’ (Disney/Pixar)

But that’s not all on the walls

The aquarium is jam-packed with inside jokes and Pixar references. In the quarantine lab, there’s a snapshot of Darla — the fish-abusing girl from Finding Nemo — adorning one wall…


Darla, the scourge of sea life down under, pops up again (DIsney/Pixar)

…while Uku, the volcano from the short “Lava” (which ran before Inside Out), appears on a magnet on the mini-fridge.


Lava him or hate him, Uku appears in magnet form (Disney/Pixar)

In addition to appearing at the beginning of the film, Crush the sea turtle (or a reasonable facsimile) can be seen suspended from the ceiling near one of the exhibit tanks as Hank scrambles to get Dory back to her home.


Is this really Crush or do all turtles look alike? (Disney/Pixar)

Finally, the fine feathered eponymous star of the short “Piper,” which plays before Dory, is posterized on a wall in a different room at MLI, as initially revealed in a Kellogg’s commercial.


Piper the bird is as adorable as ‘Piper’ the short (Disney/Pixar)

Finding the original Nemo

Alexander Gould voiced the clownfish in the 2003 original. Now 22, he was too old to reprise the role, but that didn’t stop director Stanton from bringing him back. He plays one of the hapless Cleveland Aquarium truck drivers duped by Hank and Dory during the film’s climax, at one point uttering, “We’re so fired.”


Pay really close attention to this truck, it is the vehicle of many Easter eggs (Disney/Pixar)

The old standbys

Aside from Gould, there are a few other Easter eggs tied to the hijacked aquarium truck. The Luxo Ball, which dates back to Pixar’s very first short, can be seen in the center of the steering wheel, and the requisite nod to Stanton’s alma mater, A113, is on the truck’s license plate. (A113 is the California Institute of the Arts classroom where students like Pixar stars Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird, along with dozens of other animation luminaries, got their start; A113 is one of the most prolific Easter eggs in Hollywood history, up there with the Wilhelm Scream.)


Pixar’s Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and John Lasseter point to their favorite classroom (CalArts)

We did it! Now what?

Last seen escaping from the dentist’s office in their plastic bags in Finding Nemo, Gill and his tank crew (Bloat, Peach, Gurgle, Bubbles, Jacques, and Deb) eventually make the scene in Finding Dory. But just barely. They float in during the post-credits sequence, passing by the sea lions and then scooped up by MLI staffers.


Stick around to the very end to see Gill and the tank gang make the scene (Disney/Pixar)

What we missed

One WALL-E reference we didn’t spot was Buy-N-Large, the corporate behemoth that has popped up in subsequent Pixar films. We also didn’t spot such usual suspects as the Chinese food container (which has appeared in A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Inside Out), Andy’s globe from Toy Story (which most recently resurfaced in Inside Out), or a sneak peek at an upcoming Pixar feature (the studio has Cars 3 and the Day of the Dead-inspired Coco in the pipeline for 2017). The scene set in the shipping lanes will require repeat viewings on slo-mo to uncover what is likely a wealth of hidden references. Likewise, the big chase at the end might have some Cars cars or other cartoon cameos that went by too fast for our mortal eyes in the theater.

According to the fan site Pixar Post, Fluke and Rudder also have “A1” and “13” on their flipper tags — at least in some Finding Dory merchandise. Meanwhile, one eagle-eyed fan called Ultimate Orlando claims that piles in the aquarium have the same stamp as those on the Nemo submarine ride at the Disney parks.

In the end, what we’re really kicking ourselves for missing are the two Die Hard references that Stanton said he decided to include after learning about the Internet’s theory that all the Pixar films take place in the same continuity as Bruce Willis’s action franchise.

If you locate ‘em, please let us know the comments so we can keep an eye out next time we go looking for Dory.

Of course, Pixar is so notorious for stuffing its films with inside gags that sometimes fans might see an Easter egg where there might not be one. For instance, several folks have speculated that a VW Beetle that Dory conspicuously swims by is Herbie the Love Bug from the classic Disney family film. However, the VW on the ocean floor doesn’t have any of the racing striping or No. 53 stickers visible, making it difficult to believe it’s an homage to Herbie.


No, we don’t think the Love Bug has been scuttled, but some do (Disney/Pixar)

Pixar knows that movie-goers can obsess over these things, which is why Stanton and company had fun on April Fool’s Day when they revealed the ultimate Easter egg:

(H/t to Pixar Post and its ultra-observant members for initially spotting the Pixar address, WALL-E calendar, and Piper poster.)