Coco Route: the new tourist route in Mexico that emerged thanks to Disney

It's been more than two years since "Coco," the Disney-Pixar movie that chronicles the Day of the Dead celebration through the eyes of a child (Miguel), hit theaters to captivate audiences of all ages around the world, raising more than $807 million at the box office and earning two Oscar statuettes: Best Animated Film and Best Song.

'Coco' by Disney's Pixar
'Coco' by Disney's Pixar

However, its success went beyond the seventh art industry, to boost tourism in colonial cities and magical towns in central and southern Mexico.

According to the film's director, Lee Unkrich, in order to capture the characters, colors, aromas, sounds, and flavors of this emblematic celebration, the Pixar team traveled to Mexico several times during the period, visiting a series of towns in the center of the country that inspired each of the elements of the film. These destinations now form the new Coco Route, developed with the goal of giving national and foreign visitors the opportunity to discover the Day of the Dead to the fullest and follow in the footsteps of Dante, Miguel, and Hector, the film's protagonists.

The tourist route of "Coco" was announced by Enrique de la Madrid, head of the Secretariat of Tourism during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, as part of the National Fair of Magic Villages 2018, which took place in the state of Michoacan.

The success of this film (Coco) has been such, that it also fell in a great moment, because it happened just when we also started the new Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City, that the world was explained in such an intelligent, entertaining and emotional way of this tradition, that we also wanted to try to take advantage of the theme, in the good sense of the word; precisely, generated routes of those towns where they were inspired by the film Coco. And I believe that this is a way to continue generating tourist products in the country

According to the website Viajemos Por México, two alternative routes to Coco are offered: a long route that includes cities and towns in the states of Aguascalientes, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Oaxaca, which can be visited any day of the year; as well as a route that passes only through Michoacán and is only done in October and early November.

Michoacán

Santa Fe de la Laguna: This Purepecha town was the place where they based themselves to create the home of the Rivera family. Their church is even one of the first scenes in the film. Not to mention that in one of their homes resides Doña María Salud Ramírez Caballero, the famous Coco mom.

Pátzcuaro: One of the best places to celebrate the Day of the Dead is undoubtedly the Island of Janitzio, where nightly tours of the cemetery take place, where the inhabitants of the place light up the graves of their family to wait for their souls to come back to visit them.

Tzintzuntzan: Very close to Pátzcuaro and on the shores of the lake, is this town of impressive flower arrangements, candles, and offerings that are placed in the cemetery. At night it is really impressive.

Parangaricutiro: This is a town that was submerged in lava due to the eruption of the Paricutin volcano in 1943; however, the only thing left in its wake was the church, from which Coco's creators took elements to decorate the final building of the film.

Paracho: One of the articles that connects Miguel's story with the underworld focuses on the guitar found in Ernesto de la Cruz's mausoleum. This beautiful instrument was inspired by the guitars of Paracho, a town that shelters in its lands an infinite number of families dedicated to "lauderia", the art of building stringed instruments.

Travel the Coco route in Mexico
Travel the Coco route in Mexico

Guanajuato

The beautiful and historic cobblestone streets of Guanajuato City inspired the Kingdom of the Dead in the film. Also, in its Plaza del Ropero, you will find the statue of Jorge Negrete, the Mexican singer who inspired the creation of Ernesto de la Cruz.

Léon: this city is known for its tradition of working with leather and shoes. There you will learn about the works of shoemaking families that have been doing it for generations, just like the Rivera family.

Aguascalientes

Every year in October, the city of Aguascalientes will make you feel in the underworld with the "Festival de las Calaveras", where thousands of "catrinas" in different outfits take to the streets to enjoy music, mechanical games, music and lots of food. Here you will be able to observe the art of the engraver and illustrator José Guadalupe Posadas, creator of this iconic character.

Oaxaca

Another destination that offers color and light, but also music and dance is the city of Oaxaca, where in their neighborhoods are celebrated the joyful and lively parades all night of November 2. During the tour through its streets, dozens of families open their doors to share their delicious offerings, giving visitors delightful dishes and drinks. 

Tourist Growth

A colonial city that has benefited from the Coco phenomenon in a short time is Morelia, the capital of Michoacán and where many travelers decide to start the route. Roberto Monroy García, the city's tourism secretary, mentioned that:

An important factor was the promotion of the film Coco, already in November 2018 we identified an increase of more than 50% in the proportion of visitors and tourists compared to 2017, and by 2019 we noticed a rise of 20% over the previous year. In addition, we have observed travelers coming from places where there are no advertising campaigns, such as Korea, Australia or New Zealand

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed the Day of the Dead celebrations a World Heritage Site in 2003. According to recent figures from the Secretary of Tourism, these dates attract more than 7.5 million international tourists each year, representing an economic income of nearly $4 billion pesos. The main visitors come from the United States, Canada, France, and China.

By Mexicanist, with information from Infobae