If you’ve just enjoyed The One and Only Ivan on Disney Plus, did you know that you can visit many of the sets in person? While the film used a lot of Disney magic, many of the locations are real places in Lakeland, Florida. In 2018, the film crew rolled into town to get footage of the local drive-in movie theatre, the mall, the school, and a residential street for the wild family flick.

The city has been the setting to a variety of features, including The WaterboyEdward Scissorhands, Tom Selleck’s Mr. Baseball, Ed Harris’ China Moon, and John Cusack’s Grace is Gone.

What’s On Disney Plus’ Roger Palmer recently reviewed the movie. Find out what he thinks of the silverback’s story.

Silver Moon Drive-In

A local news outlet was allowed to take some set photos, on the day of filming. As you continue to scroll, you’ll see why the location scouts chose this Insta-worthy spot. It’s simply iconic.

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First time at the Drive-In!!! So excited!!!!

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West Palm Drive

This narrow street has a gorgeous tree canopy, and one of the older houses on the route was used in the film. Bizarrely, producers asked the owners of this old car to move his decades-old wheels onto the set.

Southgate Shopping Centre

Southdale is known for its arch, an original feature of the 1957 plaza. Filmmakers replaced its signage digitally, to say “Big Top Mall”:

Not all of the signage is digital. Boardwalk Bargains and Bowl-A-Rama signs were mounted for the day, while the real retailers were closed:

The mall is just a plaza: there’s no interior for Ivan an his animal friends to be displayed in real life. So the mall’s open-air central courtyard was festooned with green, to allow visual effects artists to transform it into a mall entrance.

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Movie set of The One and Only Ivan.

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Now that’s what I call a sign:


If you do visit Lakeland on your next trip to Florida, check out the city’s tourism website, lakelandgov.net/fun for more information on the community, or visitcentralflorida.org/cities-towns/lakeland for the tourist hotspots.


Will you be checking out any of these locations?

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Nick Moreau

Nick Moreau works at an archives, delving into his community's past. On DisKingdom, he focuses on vintage Disney content.

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