California Adventure Update: Pixar & Marvel Land Progress

As we continue our Disneyland Resort updates, we come to Disney California Adventure. Or, what this summer might more aptly be called Disney Crickets Adventure. Not because of an abundance of insects (those have been exterminated in preparation for the Marvel/super heroes land expansion), but because all of the attention will be focused on Disneyland and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this summer.

We’ll start with the non-news, which concerns Paint the Night. In our recent Disneyland News & Rumor Round-up post, we questioned why there hadn’t been an announcement concerning the return of this night parade. Given that it had an Incredibles float added last year, is still relatively new, and would be good counter-programming to draw guests away from Disneyland, we figured its return was a given.

Subsequent to that, we’ve heard that Paint the Night is a costly and challenging parade to run. It’s not just the labor of Entertainment Cast Members, which is a necessary component of any parade. It’s the float and costume maintenance, as well as the physical toll Paint the Night takes on performers. (This might explain why Walt Disney World didn’t want it.) This isn’t to say Paint the Night couldn’t return at some point, but the sentiment among many Cast Members seems to be good riddance. I definitely don’t agree with that, and hope Disney does what’s necessary to bring it back. Light parades are such an iconic part of the evening experience for me.

In more upbeat Disney California Adventure news, Soarin’ Over California returns to the park for a limited run from June 1 to 30. Personally, I miss the scents of the orange groves of Camarillo, pines of Lake Tahoe, and ocean mist of Malibu, and am quite happy to have the OG Soarin’ return.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this run is extended “by popular demand” beyond this summer. With Disneyland drawing more tourists for Galaxy’s Edge, DCA is going to turn into the local hangout park. Most Californians recognize that the Golden State is better than the rest of the world. I’ll certainly be heading to Guest Services after riding to register my “vote” in favor of retaining the Soarin’ Over California version of the attraction.

Moving along to the future of Disney California Adventure, we have construction on the park’s Marvel Land (that definitely won’t be named that). We’ve already reported on the Southern California Super Hero Campus, the full details you can read about in our “Rumor: Marvel Land California Campus w/ 3D Ride & Microbrewery” post from last year.

The first phase of this super hero expansion project will contain a microbrewery/counter service restaurant, merchandise shop, a small quad space with various avenues, and an interactive 3D dark ride. That last one is being built in the ‘It’s Tough to Be a Bug’ theater, and is expected to be a Spider-Man shooter attraction, which vaguely resembles Toy Story Mania.

I hope something else is on the horizon for DCA, because I can’t muster much enthusiasm for this project. After showing so much potential with the relaunch of the park, Cars Land, Buena Vista Street, and Grizzly Peak Airfield, it seems Disney California Adventure has stagnated since.

There have been changes that weren’t necessarily improvements, but not much that has been substantial.

Speaking of one such change, PhilharMagic has been added to Hollywood Land in a smaller format, and without all of the effects.

This is better than the movie previews that had been here, but inferior to MuppetVision, which preceded those. It’s odd that PhilharMagic has just now been added to California and Paris a decade after its Florida debut…and at a time when that version of the attraction is really showing its age.

Also back here, there are a bunch of super hero meet & greets, including one for Captain Marvel.

I’ll give credit where credit is due: the backdrops here are nice. Still, this is a band-aid approach that feels very temporary. It’s not as if the massive success of the 22-film Marvel Cinematic Universe is sudden and should be catching Disney by surprise.

Back on Pixar Pier, work continues to complete this re-themed land. Jessie’s Critter Carousel opened earlier this spring, and in a manner befitting Pixar Pier, bears nothing in common with the rest of the area’s design.

Some cactus and cartoon cutouts to go along with the Victorian and Mid-century Modern styles? Sure, why not.

I already wrote my overly-long Pixar Pier Review, and no subsequent additions are going to change any of that, for better or for worse.

At this point, it’s just a matter of waiting out the clock until someone at Imagineering decides a different overlay should be applied.

Next up on Pixar Pier is the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind attraction, which is having a delayed opening because it “had” to be repurposed from a bug’s land. How these last two amusement park rides have taken so long to debut is beyond me.

While passing by the construction walls for the upcoming attraction, you can see the memory orbs featured in Inside Out’s Headquarters. New lighting and fixtures have also been installed, as Emotional Whirlwind crawls towards completion.

We’d expect Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind to open at some point in late June.

This attraction also bears nothing in common with the rest of Pixar Pier, but at least it’s better-looking than Maliboomer. (Although its replacement, Maliboomer Park, was arguably best of all.)

In a piece of positive Disney California Adventure news, the biggest upside of the removal of the smoking sections inside the park is not walking through smoke to enjoy the back trail through Grizzly Peak. It’s such a serene area, now with crisp air and nice mist from the waterfalls.

Overall, that’s about all there is to say about Disney California Adventure at this point. As much as we enjoy hanging out at DCA, the second gate is starting to lag even further behind Disneyland on a substantive level. The thing for which I’m most excited is actually a reversion, and I don’t expect the Marvel land to be anywhere remotely on par with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That’s unfortunate, as DCA needs something on that level. Cars Land and Buena Vista Street were good starts–but now Disney needs to finish the park overhaul with more place-making and a few marquee attractions.

If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!

Your Thoughts

What do you think about Disney California Adventure? Excited for the super hero future of the park? Looking forward to seeing Pixar Pier in its “finished” form? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


9 Responses to “California Adventure Update: Pixar & Marvel Land Progress”
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