Disney Confirms Erasure of “Puberty Park” From ‘Inside Out 2’

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Riley in 'Inside Out'

Credit: Disney Pixar

Audiences will return to Riley Andersen’s mind in Kelsey Mann’s Inside Out 2 (2024) next month.

Five animated characters are looking out at a vibrant, whimsical cityscape filled with various imaginative structures resembling a dreamland, during twilight. (From Inside Out)
Credit: Pixar

Like the majority of The Walt Disney Company, Pixar Animation Studios has also faced a decrease in reliability, thanks to divisive projects like Lightyear (2022).

The Toy Story spinoff caused a ruckus when it was released two years ago because it included a same-sex kiss. The controversy caused entire countries to ban its release, and even movie theaters in the United States issued cautionary warnings to those heading out to see it. Lightyear ended its theatrical run with $226 million, a historic franchise low.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) traveling at lightspeed in the 'Lightyear' trailer
Credit: Pixar

Then, last year, Elemental (2023) seemed to be reflecting a similar box office trajectory but eventually became a celebrated sleeper hit.

Now, all eyes are on the upcoming Inside Out 2 from director Kelsey Mann, who takes the reins from Pete Docter, the now Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios.

Inside Out 2 was first announced by Docter and actress Amy Poehler at the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim, Southern California. Poehler, who plays Joy in the movie, confirmed that audiences would be returning to the mind of Riley Andersen as she experiences teenagehood.

In an animated scene from "Inside Out 2," Joy, Disgust, and Anger stand together on a pink, brain-like surface. Disgust looks annoyed, Joy appears curious, and Anger is fuming. Fear is in the background, falling backward dramatically.
Credit: Pixar

Adolescent storylines aren’t new for Disney or Pixar, but they do come with a risk. Will some audiences be turned away by the discussion of themes like puberty, identity, and maybe even sexuality? When Pixar released Domee Shi’s Turning Red (2022) two years ago, the inclusion of a tampon scene established discourse regarding the film’s family-friendly nature.

It has been confirmed that Inside Out 2 will see Riley, voiced here by Kensington Tallman, attend high school and encounter a whole host of new emotions. What will be interesting is how the Pixar film will handle its messaging, considering Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that entertainment was first priority, and not messaging.

Riley in 'Inside Out'
Credit: Disney Pixar

Joining Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale), and Disgust (Liza Lapira) will be new characters, Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). Hale and Lapira replace Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, respectively, for the sequel.

As confirmed by the official “The Art of Disney Pixar’s Inside Out 2” from Chronicle Books, Anxiety may be the antagonist of the upcoming animated film, but she is not the villain.

Embarrassment, Anxiety, Envy, and Ennui take control of Riley's board in Inside Out 2
Credit: Pixar

There have been suggestions that Inside Out 2 will explore Riley’s sexuality, with the first trailer hinting at a relationship between Riley and the new character Val Ortiz, voiced by Lilimar. Some fans even went so far as to say Riley’s new emotion was “lesbianism.”

Ostensibly, Inside Out 2 will be about growing up and dealing with teenagehood and identity. The tagline of the aforementioned art book even reads, “Caution: Puberty in progress.”

Riley in Inside Out 2 turning out her bedside lamp
Credit: Pixar

How far Disney and Pixar go in exploring puberty and adolescence will not be made clear until the movie is released, and the reception to Mann’s film could be as divided as that of other entries in the recent Pixar canon.

While “The Art of Disney Pixar’s Inside Out 2” confirms certain aspects of the movie, including a visual of Riley’s “Deep Dark Secret,” the production team also shares what was left on the cutting room floor.

Writing about the design process, Production Designer Jason Deamer states that the team has to “iterate and pre-visualize what the movie could look like.”

The 'Inside Out' emotions cowering from Anxiety in a promotional image for Pixar Animation Studios' 'Inside Out 2'
Credit: Pixar

“This means making a lot of not-so-great stuff before you get to the good stuff,” Deamer writes. “Along the way, there are amazing ideas and artwork that aren’t used for the sake of a better story.”

Those items not included in the final cut of Inside Out 2 were Gail, captain of the SS Brainfart, whose goal was to help Riley appreciate all her imperfections, Epiphany Bay and Bad Ideas Market, the Shame emotion, and Self-Compassion.

Disgust living up to her name as Joy, Sadness, and Anger hide in the corner
Credit: Pixar

Related: Disney Officially Rejects, Changes Course on 87-Year-Old Classic Princess Legacy

For Shame, Mann previously said that the emotion made the film too heavy and might have been a turn-off for family audiences. Another emotion that was cut was Schadenfreude.

Another element that will not be seen in Inside Out 2 this summer is Puberty Park. The artwork here includes amusement park-inspired locations called House of Distortion Mirrors, the Horror House of Parental Embarrassment, the Stream of Consciousness, and the Growing Pains food kiosk.

A digitally illustrated comic page titled "Puberty Park" features various attractions: "Mood Swings" carousel, "Stream of Consciousness" river, "Hall of Distortion Mirrors," "Haunted House of Hormones," and "Hormone Hell," all reminiscent of a Disney theme park with humor similar to Inside Out 2.
Credit: Chronicle Books (Photo by Inside the Magic)

Related: Pixar Moves on From ‘Toy Story 5,’ Kicks Off New Cinematic Universe

There is no explanation yet as to why Puberty Park was cut; perhaps it was too on the nose. However, even without this location, the theme of puberty will definitely be the driving factor behind Inside Out 2.

The film, directed by Kelsey Mann, written by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein, and produced by Mark Nielsen, is slated for release on June 14, 2024.

How do you think Inside Out 2 will tackle Riley’s teenage years? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

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