Disney's latest animated feature, Raya and the Last Dragon, was a departure for the studio in many ways. For one thing, it was a film based in southeast Asian culture, a place where Disney had not found inspiration before. It's also the most action-oriented animated Disney movie to date. However, for all its differences, it still has all the magic of a Disney movie, and that includes beautiful animation, with a few secrets hidden away for the eagle-eyed viewer.
Raya and the Last Dragon has its share of fun easter eggs and little references to previous Disney movies, as well as to the other aspects of the larger history of the nearly 100-year-old company. The new Blu-ray release for the film points some of them out so that you no longer have to go hunting frame by frame. Here's a look at a few easter eggs that you might have missed inside Raya and the Last Dragon.
Hei Hei From Moana
While Disney has gotten away from using the term in recent years, Raya is technically the newest Disney Princess. She joins a long line of heroines who were either born with royal blood or found their way into a royal family through some other means. As such, it makes sense that Raya would throw in a reference to her immediate predecessor, Moana, who was the last Disney Princess. That said, this particular easter egg does its best to remain hidden.
When Raya and her party find their way to Talon, they explore a floating marketplace. The boardwalks are full of people buying and selling whatever they have. This includes one food vendor who has a very odd item in his stall. It's Hei Hei, Moana's chicken sidekick, with a coconut shell on his head. Is this a statue or some sort of totem that brings good luck? Or this an actual chicken who's trying to hide from the people. It's unclear exactly what this is supposed to be, but we do easily recognize it.
Bruni From Frozen 2 (Sort Of)
Raya and the Last Dragon's immediate precursor from Walt Disney Animation was the record-breaking Frozen II. It's not that surprising to see a nod to that film hidden inside Raya, but exactly how that was done is a little surprising. Considering that the newer film has an entire sequence that takes place in the snow, in the land called Spine, we might expect to see a reference or two to Frozen there. Instead, what we get is a reference found in the desert.
Just before Raya summons the dragon Sisu, she's riding Tuk Tuk through the desert and her mount is briefly distracted by a lizard. This lizard was inspired by Bruni, the fire spirit salamander that Elsa befriends in Frozen II. Based on what's said on the Blu-ray, the lizard isn't specifically drawn to look like Bruni. It's a bit hard to tell, but the movements of the little guy were specifically inspired by the Frozen II character. If you watch the way the two lizards move, it's essentially identical.
Most of the time easter eggs are designed to call back to other movies. They're little pieces that reference previous films made by a studio, the original version of a rebooted franchise or maybe a film that inspired the filmmakers. Sometimes, like in the case of Pixar, we can even see easter eggs that reference future movies. That studio always drops a reference to the next movie in the current release, so the easter egg often isn't even recognized until later. However, Raya and the Last Dragon may be unique in that it actually contains an easter egg reference to itself.
The character of Tong, voiced by Benedict Wong, makes reference to a family in the film, and we see that he had a child who was apparently turned to stone by the Druun. At the end of the movie, we not only see Tong return, but also that his wife and child are ok. While the child is never given a proper name, they were apparently referred to as Tongler by the animators, and if you watch the end credits for Raya and the Last Dragon and read through the list of production babies, i.e. all the children that were born during production to the over 400 people involved in making the film, you'll see that Tongler is actually listed among them.
When it comes to Disney, there is one easter egg to rule them all, and that's the Hidden Mickey. The three circles that come together to form the head of Mickey Mouse can be found in all sorts of places, including countless Disney movies, both animated and live-action. They can also be found all over the dozen Disney theme parks around the world. So of course, Raya and the Last Dragon is no exception to this rule.
The exact number of Hidden Mickeys found in Raya and the Last Dragon is unclear but a few of them are revealed on the Blu-ray. If you look at the upper right corner of the image above, up against the wall on the upper level, you can possibly just make out the three circles. The other Hidden Mickeys are equally tough to spot, as they really are hidden in the background and little attention is drawn to them, but they are there.
These are the specific easter eggs mentioned on the new Raya and the Last Dragon Blu-ray, but by no means are they likely to be the only ones; although it certainly does feel like this movie has fewer easter eggs than we might expect. Animated movies frequently have a lot because they can be easily created and placed anywhere a layout artist wants to place them. Of course, considering all the impressive action that Raya has to offer, I doubt too many people are all that concerned with scanning the background for easter eggs.
Raya and the Last Dragon is now available on Digital, Blu-ray and 4K UHD.