- The control station is one to Disney's own Reason and Emotion and Cranium Command, the latter of which Pete Docter worked on animation for early in his career.
- According to the director, characters and environments in Riley's head incorporate elements of animation masters of the past, including Milt Kahl, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.
- When Riley has her first "nightmare" after moving to San Francisco, the Ominous Pipe Organ music that can be heard in the background is from the pre-show of The Haunted Mansion.
- The rat looks very similar to Remy from Ratatouille.
- The control center inside Riley's mom is a parody of talk show sets, mainly The View.
- When Joy and Sadness are passing through Imagination Land, a board game called "Find Me" with a cartoon Nemo on it can be seen.
- Riley has an imaginary boyfriend... a boyfriend who lives in Canada!
- During the dream production sequence, they use a reality distortion filter.
- "Forget it, Jake. It's Cloudtown."
- Joy's look was inspired by Tinkerbell.
- Fairies have to be one thing or the other because, being so small, they unfortunately have room for only one feeling at a time. Replace "faries" with "children" and you get a pretty good representation of Riley's predicament.
- The Dreams Productions movie poster of "I'm Falling for a Very Long Time into a Pit" is based off of the classic film poster for Vertigo.
- At the end of the film, Sadness mentions a "tragic vampire romance" island.
- In the Brazilian version of the movie, when Joy asks Sadness what the latter likes, she says she likes that movie where the father of the little lion dies. In the original, it's "that funny movie where the dog dies", which could either refer to the classic Old Yeller or Marley and Me.
- Also in the Brazilian version, the Shout-Out of "Forget it Jake, it's Cloudtown" is translated as "Forget it. It... faded away". The inflection and phrasing, combined with the dramatic glass pull, makes one think of Horatio Caine.
- Bing Bong noticing his hand fading away is a reference to Back to the Future.
- When Fear is watching the dream, there's a shot with him in the corner that looks like an episode of MST3K. He even makes a few riffs.
- There are also a few nods to Magic Adventures of Mumfie. First, the way the memory spheres in Long Term Memory are arranged look similar to the way the bottles in the Secretary of Night's bottle room, Bing Bong has a theme song that sounds similar to Mumfie's, and like Mumfie, he sacrifices himself to save a friend, the only exception being that Mumfie was put in the holding cell and then rescued as a result, while Bing Bong faded away.
- The bakery that only serves broccoli pizza is named Yeast of Eden.
- The scene with the two guards discussing whose hat belongs to whom while guarding the vault containing those things of which Riley is most scared is a nod to the hat-swapping scene between Vladimir and Estragon from Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot.
- The fuzzy effect on the characters make them look very much like another Disney-owned franchise.
- And while we're speaking of Muppets, the guards of the Subconscious are Dave Goelz and Frank Oz, both original Muppeteers... although, thanks to the guards' confusion over hats, Dave is cast as 'Subconscious Guard Frank', while Frank is cast as 'Subconscious Guard Dave'.
- In a Freeze-Frame Bonus during the credits, a locksmith is advertising "Sure Locks for Homes".
- Joy has blue hair, a green dress and her skin is colored yellow...Not that different from a certain long-haired TV mom... the Honest Trailer of Inside Out even poked fun at that by calling Joy "Short-Haired Marge Simpson".
- When Bing Bong says "Hey, look! There's the train!" after the scene where he is comforted by Sadness, you can see a painting of Figment in a pile of rubble. This could be an Actor Allusion, as Subconscious Guard Dave's voice actor, Dave Golez, who appears a few minutes later, played Figment in the 2002 version of Journey Into Imagination With Figment.
- The way Bing Bong says "Oh, I'm sorry!" after knocking down a house of cards, is quite similar to the way Pumbaa from The Lion King says the exact same phrase during the song "Hakuna Matata" after trying to say "farted".
- The castle in Imagination Land looks very similar to the Cinderella Castle in Disneyland. Indeed, Imagination Land itself looks like a little Disneyland.
Shout Out / Inside Out