Walt Disney World has announced more character meet & greets returning to Hollywood Studios with the reopening of the reimagined Pixar Place back by Toy Story Land and the old entrance to Toy Story Mania. This post shares timeframes, details, locations, and commentary.
This follows a lot of character news in the last couple of months. Most recently, Walt Disney World announced Mirabel, Moana & More Character Meet & Greets. Those have already started to debut, with Moana appearing in time for Animal Kingdom’s 25th Anniversary over the weekend.
This is actually the first regularly-scheduled meet & greet for Moana at Walt Disney World, which is somewhat difficult to believe given the popularity of the movie and its growing prominence in the parks. That makes the delay in getting Mirabel in the parks following the smash success of Encanto seem downright reasonable by comparison!
However, they’re all dwarfed by the Mandalorian and Grogu, who are technically free-roaming characters, meaning they don’t have lines in the traditional sense. As a result, they are absolutely mobbed by guests throughout the day, with a small crowd often gathering before their sets even begin.
It thus makes sense that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is bringing back even more characters…
According to Walt Disney World, the Edna Mode Experience meet & greet returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 14, 2023.
This is as part of a reimagined Pixar Place, where you’ll also be able to encounter Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Frozone, and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. (Currently, Sulley meets inside Walt Disney Presents. It’ll be interesting to see whether that changes, or if that showcase is considered part of Pixar Place.)
What’s also unclear is whether Pixar Place is being reimagined again, or if they’re still counting the changes that debuted in 2019 as new. Despite debuting over 4 years ago in the lead up to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this area has only been operational for about a year since it never reopened following the closure.
For a long time post-reopening, the whole area was simply closed off via a gate under the old Pixar Studios marquee. If I recall correctly, it was used as an extended queue for Toy Story Mania on particularly busy weeks (e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas) during the physical distancing era.
Following that, the gate has been open intermittently as an overflow space for crowds, but nothing has been operational. It was open at one point late last month (when I captured some of these photos) and then closed again a few days later.
I can’t imagine anything is actually changing in Pixar Place, but would love to be wrong. I was very underwhelmed when this area debuted in 2019, and it felt very much like a stopgap measure to create capacity for anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but at some point, it makes sense to invest in permanent places.
I’d contend that we are well past that point, and way too much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios has an ‘abandoned place with temporary filler’ vibe. There are also a lot of good and well-themed spaces, to be sure, but Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard, and Grand Avenue could all benefit from permanent reimaginings with healthy budgets.
If you never saw Pixar Place as Municiberg city block it featured a dance party in honor of Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone to celebrate their Super deeds.
In addition to the dance party, an Edna Mode meet & greet will debut in a special location on Pixar Place showcasing some of her best designs. Also on Pixar Place, there will be clues as to the whereabouts of Jack-Jack.
It’ll be interesting to see what other ways Pixar Place changes. Personally, I would love to see some of the old thematics restored. Bring back the Pixar Studios marquee (pictured at the top) and some of the fun details from the previous entrance to Toy Story Mania. Maybe the Luxo Jr. Audio Animatronics figure that briefly appeared outside by the Edna Mode Experience (this was years ago–maybe 2009-2010) could make a return.
This space used to have a somewhat inviting design with brickwork plus whimsical and fun flourishes, but the Municiberg city block incarnation was mostly a miss. The Edna Mode Experience was fine, but everything else was very one-dimensional and superficial.
Regardless, adding more characters and ways to round out the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a good thing. Repurposing vacant or underutilized locations definitely makes more sense from a capacity perspective, it would just be nice if these additions felt less temporary. Personally, I think there’s room for a lot more Pixar in addition to Toy Story Land, but would love to see additions with a greater sense of permanence.
There’s also the reality that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still lacking in things to do beyond the park’s many headliner rides. If we’re going the route of adding characters and entertainment, how about bringing back the Citizens of Hollywood? What about some new Muppets-themed offerings in that courtyard? Perhaps in the upper levels of Grand Ave buildings a la the Muppets Present: Great Moments in American History.
What do you think of the reimagined Pixar Place reopening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Excited to participate in the Edna Mode Experience? Wish that Walt Disney World would invest in something permanent to replace the vacant or underused spaces at DHS? Do you agree or disagree with our take on these changes/additions? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!