A Personal Tour of Piston Peak National Park with Toby Wilson #FireandRescueEvent

*Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to attend advance screenings of Maleficent and Planes: Fire and Rescue and to attend press junkets for both films. I did receive some promotional products courtesy of Disney Consumer Products. No other compensation was received. All thoughts are 100% my own.*

For Toby Wilson, who was in charge of the art direction and production design on Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue (now in theaters!), research for the film actually began for him at a very young age. When we met with him back in May, he recalled all of the family trips he took on spring breaks, summer vacations, and even sometimes during Christmas breaks. His family would travel to all of the national parks, such as Yosemite, Redwood National Forest, and Glacier, to name just a few.

Yosemite is especially very dear to Wilson’s heart, and was the main inspiration for the fictional national park in Planes: Fire & Rescue, which is called Piston Peaks. One of the most intense moments of the film includes tourists getting trapped inside the canyons, which is reminiscent of Yosemite in that there is only one way in and one way out.

A Personal Tour of Piston Peak National Park with Toby Wilson #FireandRescueEvent

A Personal Tour of Piston Peak National Park with Toby Wilson #FireandRescueEvent

To get started, Toby Wilson and Art Hernandez as well as others who worked on the film traveled around to national parks to take pictures, sketch, and gather information about the parks. Wilson’s daughter was even able to accompany him on one of the trips to Yellowstone. In the film, you may notice a fire truck engine with the number 64. This so happens to be the Yellowstone truck that Wilson’s daughter got to climb all over during her trip with her dad. Wilson included it in the movie as a thank-you to the folks at Yellowstone.

Piston Peaks most certainly feels like a real place because every single detail of the national park has been designed by the Disney research team. There were so many things that I had not noticed during my first viewing of the movie that I will most certainly look for when I finally have a day to take my six-year-old daughter to see it in theaters.

Some things to look out for:

  • The locomotive that drives through the park is basically John Lasseter’s dream train. Every detail on the train was put in based on specific details that he liked about any number of trains.
  • The RVs in the film have a U.S. map on them, and the only state that they do not have marked off is Oklahoma. Director Bobs Gannaway was born in Oklahoma, and this is a nod to him.
  • In the lodge, there are rugs that have yellow stripes and traffic cones on them.
  • Get a good look at the pinecones, if you can. They are shaped like spark plugs!
  • Also, get a good look at the leaves. You might just notice a tread mark design on them.

A Personal Tour of Piston Peak National Park with Toby Wilson #FireandRescueEvent

There are so many cute little touches to the film that I appreciate all the more after listening to Toby Wilson talk about his experiences and adventures while working on this film. We could all tell how personal making this film was to him, and it was also an experience he got to share with his own family.

Keep up to date on all things Planes: Fire & Rescue on Facebook and Twitter. This action-packed adventure is in theaters everywhere July 18th!


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including paperbackswap.com, Goodreads.com, and luxuryreading.com.

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