If you happen into the Trolley Car Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a caffeine fix, be sure to look around. The trolley depot has a lot of wonderful storytelling details scattered about to give guests a sense of time and place. Of course, some details have more of a storied past than others. Just take a gander at the control panel to see what I mean. There are a lot of stories to be uncovered on this display, but my favorite just happens to be the junction marked A113 OPEN.
Some of you already know where this is going, but for the uninitiated let’s do a little digging. A113 has a longstanding tradition of being tucked away in films. Most notably in Pixar films, but they don’t have this nod locked down exclusively. A113 is the courtroom we find Carl in during Up, the license plate number belonging to Andy’s mom in Toy Story, and it was a secret directive number in WALL-E, amongst its many placements. Moving away from Pixar to other television and film appearances, the code can be seen in Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Firefly, The Powerpuff Girls, Lilo & Stitch, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Meet the Robinsons, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and many, many others. Not to mention the number of times its begun showing up in video games. This can’t possibly be a coincidence, can it?
No, but all of these A113 references do have something in common, the California Institute of the Arts; or as it is more commonly known, CalArts. A113 is a classroom at CalArts that is most often used for graphic design and animation programs and classes. Animators and designers pay their respects to the alma mater by including this nod to a classroom that they and many of their colleagues passed through. It may be well trodden and almost common knowledge at this point, but anytime an inside joke is honoring an academic institution, it is well worth the time to find it.
A113 isn’t the only reference to be found in the Trolley Car Cafe, it isn’t even the only hidden detail tucked away on the control panel, but it is one of the most recognizable. While you’re grabbing a cup of joe, take a few ticks to seek out this CalArts easter egg and then take another moment or two to think of where your favorite A113 reference can be found.