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brave pixar
Credit: PIXAR/Canva Creation

Scores of Disney films feature a hidden “code” and some fans have no idea what it means

PIXAR animators always include it, and PIXAR fans always look for it. It’s in every PIXAR movie, and as fans watch a new PIXAR film for the first time, they are hot on the trail of it. It can be found on license plates, on locomotives, on wall hangings, and even on underwater cameras.

The story behind A113, mysterious number in every Pixar movie

It’s, of course, the alphanumeric code, “A113,” the likes of which can be found in every single PIXAR film, beginning with 1995’s Toy Story.

But even PIXAR fans who look for “A113” in each film are often unsure about the significance of the code.

A113 Hidden in Pixar Movies

Credit: Business Insider

The Wikipedia entry for “A113” reads as follows:

A113 is an inside joke and Easter egg in media developed by alumni of the California Institute of the Arts, referring to the classroom used by graphic design and character animation students, including John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Michael Peraza, and Brad Bird.

Other notable Disney/PIXAR animators who attended CalArts include PIXAR’s current Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and

And while it’s true that the first installments of the famed “A113” were intended as inside jokes, the PIXAR Easter egg has become a staple in PIXAR production, as it is now a way that animators and producers honor the classroom at the California Institute of the Arts, routinely shortened to “CalArts.”

Acclaimed poet CalArts' writer-in-residence

Credit: Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Animation students who later became big players in animation at Disney, PIXAR, and other production houses had their professional education beginnings inside classroom A113 at the California Institute of the Arts, and therefore, the reference to the classroom can be found in dozens of animated films a nod to the school–perhaps a “thank you” for the guidance, and even maybe a “tie that binds” animators who graduated from CalArts.

cal arts animators

Credit: Vanity Fair

If it weren’t for the school, the classroom, and the instruction, the world of animation today would likely be very different.

Andrew Work ar Twitter: "A couple of A113 Easter Eggs in Soul ? ...  #PixarSoul #Pixar #A113 #EasterEgg https://t.co/UsUyxdvp2d" / Twitter

Credit: Twitter

In November 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported that CalArts alumni who had gone on to become directors of animated films were responsible for the generation of more than $26 billion at the box office between 1985 and 2012, a staggering number that baffled many in the industry.

Mystery of code 'A113' that appears in nearly every Pixar film from Toy  Story to Monsters University revealed | Daily Mail Online

Credit: CalArts

The list of award-winning and record-shattering animated films is overwhelmingly fascinating and includes such titles as The Brave Little Toaster, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story, Pocahontas, Cars, A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Corpse Bride, Ratatouille, and Coraline.

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Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

Not only did the animators and directors of the films attend the same school, but they were also students together, taking classes together, learning the art of animation together, and ultimately breathing life back into the genre together. They were students at CalArts in the 1970s, and their talents are seemingly endless.

In a strange and miraculous turn of events, the institute founded by Walt and Roy Disney in Valencia, California, would educate and empower the next generation of animators–the generation of animators who ultimately turned things around for Walt Disney Animation.

walt disney

Walt with a reel of “The Cal Arts Story,” a featurette to be shown before “Mary Poppins” at the theater/Credit: Disney

“People think it was the businessmen, the suits, who turned Disney Animation around,” explains PIXAR’s Brad Bird, “but it was the new generation of animators, mostly from CalArts. They were the ones who saved Disney.”

Bird was the first of the CalArts grads to use “A113” in a film, namely an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, called “Family Dog.”

brad bird pixar

Credit: Insider

a113 brad bird

Credit: Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories”

It’s not always easy to find the “A113” in animated films. Some are hidden very well, and others, like the code added to PIXAR’s Brave, are in other written forms, such as Roman numerals.

pixar brave merida

Credit: PIXAR

Leave it to the visionary prowess of Walt Disney to create the very institution that would eventually empower future visionaries, creating a way for them to turn things around for Walt’s beloved company.

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!