‘Remember Me!’ La Celebración del Día de Muertos
Dia de los Muertos is a traditional holiday in Mexico which lasts for two days (November 1 and 2). Though it is celebrated near Halloween, it is distinct from the holiday. While Halloween has come to focus on the spooky and unsettling side of death, Dia de Los Muertos helps people celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Families build ofrendas (or offerings) which honor their family members. They also symbolically share a meal with them. Marigolds feature heavily in the holiday, and are used to ‘guide’ spirits to the ofrendas.
The film ‘Coco’ explores this theme of family and remembrance, with the main character Miguel going on a quest to uncover the secrets of his family. In the movie we get to see ofrendas, as well as a road made of marigolds which leads the dead back to the land of the living. If you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil it for you, but the idea of family being reunited through memory is central to the plot. It is also central to the ‘Remember Me!’ exhibit.
Numerous Mexican artists are featured in the gallery, which you can find upon entering the Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Interestingly, Quetzalcoatl is the God of Life, making it fitting that an exhibit regarding life and death would be the first thing that Guests encounter. Inside the exhibit, you can find papel picado (a craft which features intricate designs cut into pieces of colorful paper), calaveras (or sugar skulls) and paper sculptures. Also included in the exhibit are pre-Hispanic items on loan from museums.
According to Disney’s official description of the exhibit, it also features, “four pieces of artwork and explores the artists’ unique processes and inspiration. One such piece, a sculpture group titled Bridal Couple, was created by a father and son in Mexico City whose family has been hand-making this type of celebratory art for more than 300 years.” The Bridal Couple is the centerpiece of the entire exhibit, and the sculptures range from 2.5 to 10 feet tall.
Throughout the exhibit, you’ll find informational placards which help explain the traditions of Dia de los Muertos as well as detailing the subjects depicted in the artwork. There is also a sign providing biographies of the artists involved.
If you are looking for ‘Coco’ specific theming, there is a large display case which shows Miguel visiting his family altar, complete with candles, artwork, and photographs. Watch long enough, and you might just see Miguel joined by some of the family members being honored.
The gallery also has an interactive element. A few digital screens in the hall allows you to create your own Dia de los Muertos skeletons. The skeletons are done in the style of animation of Coco and Guests can choose things like hairstyle, glasses, eye color, and designs for the skulls.
It is a beautiful and moving exhibit, and a perfect place to visit if you happen to be in the parks this fall.