Usually the flow of Disney synergy goes in just one direction: new material is created for the animated movies, which then provide themes, characters, settings, and plots that can be used when creating new theme park rides.
Most of the time you find “Easter Eggs” (hidden secrets with personal or historical significance) in those movies, they are about other Disney movies. This reveals how the company thinks of their various properties; the animated films are the crown jewels, and the most worthy of this kind of recognition. Think of Rapunzel’s cameo in Frozen, or Belle appearing by the town well in Hunchback of Notre Dame. There’s a great chance that every recent Disney movie has one or more of these, though sometimes they are very well hidden.
But Finding Dory has a different kind of Easter Egg: one that makes reference not to another movie, but to a specific thing in a Disney theme park.
At one point in the movie–which I saw this weekend thanks to a ParksBlog meet–the camera pans around a room slowly enough, and sparely decorated enough, for us to see some prominent markings on a pipe.
The pipe says “Seawater Supply TL59″ on it.
If you’re a frequent visitor to just the right Disney theme park, you already know where all this is going. That exact phrase already appears at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland in Anaheim–specifically, overhead in the queue–and the kicker is that this phrase is ITSELF already an Easter Egg, and a hidden history tribute.
The Finding Nemo Submarine Ride, when it reopened in 2007, was something of a rebirth for the attraction, which had laid dormant for many years due to its high operational cost and low-budget original theme. So when it reopened themed to the 2003 Finding Nemo movie, the attraction included a nod to its own history. The original Submarine Voyage had been added to Tomorrowland in 1959, so a pipe with TL59 on it was given a prominent position in the new attraction as an homage.
For the same pipe signage to appear in Finding Dory means that this movie has an Easter Egg about an Easter Egg (and specifically one that had to do with the sequel movie’s original source movie, just as the sequel attraction referenced the original attraction). It’s about as meta as you can get.
I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but all this makes even more sense if you make it to the very last frame of the movie (after the credits). You won’t be disappointed!