"Encanto"—A True Reflection of Colombian Culture

"Encanto" is a recently released Disney animated film heavily inspired by the charming Colombian towns, culture, food, people, music!

From lush valleys and mesmerizing rainforests to the charming towns that take you back to another era, the beauty of Colombia is fantastical. Add diverse music, food, and people to the mix, and you’ll have a place of wonder that lets you celebrate a uniquely vibrant culture.

That’s definitely something the creators of Disney’s latest movie, Encanto, want you to see. The flick follows the magical and multigenerational Madrigal family living in a fantastical house in a Colombian valley. As the enthralling mystery of the Madrigal family unravels, the stunning locations, delectable food, and rhythmic music of Colombia come to animated life.

Colombian Towns and Valleys That Look Unreal

Before shooting the film, the creators went on a research trip to Colombia. In an interview with Conde Nast Traveler, directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush revealed they went to big cities like Cartagena and Bogota and charming towns like Barichara and Salento.

The setting of the Madrigal house was heavily inspired by Salento and the valley next to it, the Cocora Valley. The rolling terrain of the valley is full of tall wax palm trees—and that inspired Howard and Bush as they planned the stunning backdrop for the Madrigal house.

For the town’s overall look, Howard and Bush drew a lot of inspiration from Barichara. It’s a town full of adobe houses, colonial architecture, and cobbled streets, transporting you to a different era. And that timeless look is truly apparent in the many scenes in Encanto.

Like any tourist in Colombia, the Encanto creators couldn’t explore the entire country. Still, they managed to showcase some places they weren’t able to visit during the research trip. These include the beautiful rock formations in Los Estoraques and the mesmerizing waters of Caño Cristales, also called the Rainbow River. Overall, the animated film highlights the picturesque Colombian towns and valleys that may look unreal—but are truly captivating.

Colombia: The Land of a Thousand Rhythms

Like most Disney movies, Encanto is a cultural spectacle of music and dance. And it’s so fitting that the setting is Colombia since it’s often called “the land of a thousand rhythms.”

Colombian music is diverse; each region has its own rhythms and genres. And that was successfully captured in Encanto, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film’s music composer. Colombian artists like Maluma, Sebastian Yatra, and the acclaimed Carlos Vives also helped create tracks that interestingly blend pop vocals with traditional Colombian vallenato music.

With Miranda’s signature rap-style music and Colombian vallenato, the movie’s soundtrack is a true reflection of the lively and rhythmic music that can be heard throughout Colombia.

Of course, a Colombian animated musical isn’t complete without dancing. The directors creatively filmed Encanto’s musical numbers. They will take you back to that day you went salsa dancing in Medellin or watched street dancers perform in Cartagena. If you haven’t been on a trip to Colombia, Encanto’s spectacle of music will transport you there—even just for a moment.

Colombian Food That Heals, Delights, and More

Julietta, one of the characters in Encanto, has power: She heals with food. In most of her scenes, you’ll be taken on a gastronomical journey to Colombia. From arepas and buñuelos to ajiaco and bandeja paisa, Colombian cuisine shines beautifully in Encanto.

Those delectable food shots in the animated movie were also inspired by the Colombian trip of the film directors. Howard and Bush had a lot of arepas while on the trip. They also ate tons of buñuelos and ajiaco. Even when they’re back in LA, they consumed Colombian food—they even took the story team to a Colombian restaurant. It’s no wonder Colombian cuisine has become a remarkable element in the story and visuals of Encanto.

Multigenerational Family & Cultural Diversity in Colombia

In Colombian culture, the family is often at the center of everything. Like any Colombian family, the Madrigals in Encanto always eat and have fun together. They also support each other both in good and bad times. And that’s regardless of the differences in their personalities and generations. Each person plays an active role in their family unit.

The film also highlights the incredible cultural diversity within Colombian communities. In Encanto, you’ll see Colombian characters with African and Indigenous ethnicities.

You’ll also see that rich family tradition and cultural diversity when you go to Colombia. Even if you are a foreigner who doesn’t speak much Spanish, Colombians won’t hesitate to smile and strike a conversation with you on the street—like you’re family.

Experience Colombia Outside the Screen

Encanto is a true reflection of Colombian culture—and it’s a great sneak peek of what you can experience when you set foot in the beautiful country of Colombia. If you’re ready to experience Colombia outside the screen, The Colombian Trip is here to help. We’re here to craft the best travel itinerary so that you can enjoy the magical beauty of Colombia at ease.