Pixar Place Hotel Details, Concept Art & Reimagined Resort Opening Timeline
Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort is getting a reimagining and will soon become Pixar Place Hotel. This post shares concept art, details about the changes, and our commentary about why this is good news despite our disdain for PPH, Pixar Pier, and the prior Toy Story Hotels. (Updated May 25, 2023.)
This news comes out of an press conference about upcoming plans for new experiences coming to the Hotels of Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney. Let’s start a peek behind the curtain of what’s on the horizon for guests who stay at the three on-site hotels at Disneyland Resort.
The new and restored perks include the ability to send select theme park purchases back to their resort hotel, a private entrance from Paradise Pier Hotel into Disney California Adventure, and Early Entry at Disneyland and DCA each day. Both the private entrance from PPH into DCA and Early Entry are big deals; they both help on-site guests save a lot of time.
Now for the main story, which is that Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is being reimagined and transformed into Pixar Place Hotel. Disney announced the new name at last fall’s D23 Expo. Prior to that, it was widely assumed that this place would be called Pixar Pier Hotel.
Instead, it’ll be called Pixar Place Hotel (not to be confused with the nicer Hyatt Place Hotel down the street). The company could’ve cut $1,678,455 from the project budget by retaining “Pier” in the name (fewer letters to change on marquees presents considerable cost savings!) but I guess that’s why we pay the big bucks to stay at Disney-branded hotels.
Regardless, we have new artist concept renderings and details, as guests should begin to see touches of Pixar popping up here and there at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel in Summer 2023, with more to come. For those who are unfamiliar with it, this 15-story high-rise hotel overlooks Disney California Adventure.
You may have already noticed the hotel’s exterior has a bright new look, as they’ve managed to repaint it from yellow to white over the course of the last year since this project was first announced. Other work has occurred at a snail’s pace on the inside, as the still-operational Paradise Pier Hotel continues to greet guests during this transition. (Meanwhile, the new tower has shot up over at Disneyland Hotel during the same time and looks nearly finished. Guess that’s the DVC difference!)
The Pixar Place Hotel lobby will continue to evolve over the next few months and will begin to blend Pixar imagery with the hotel’s current setting. When the transformation is complete, images from Pixar films will be at the front desk.
In Winter 2023, as guests enter the hotel lobby, they will be greeted by the Pixar Lamp playfully balancing atop its ball. A whimsical, colorful character-inspired mobile will hang above, welcoming guests to the new, reimagined lobby atrium.
In Summer 2023, overnight guests can splish and splash at an all-new water play area inspired by “Finding Nemo” where the fish and his friends frolic alongside families. See Crush the sea turtle atop a 186-foot-long water slide, Hank hanging out at the pop-jet splash pad and more.
Don’t let the colorful concept art fool you. Even decorated with fish and friends from Finding Nemo, this will still (easily) be the worst pool area of the three Hotels of Disneyland Resort.
Later in 2023, a family play court will be added to the deck with activities inspired by Pixar’s famous short films. Interactive games and imaginative free play celebrate favorite friends from “La Luna,” “Bao,” “For the Birds,” and “Burrow.”
When it’s time to relax, guests of Pixar Place Hotel may enjoy food and drinks under the lovestruck umbrellas from “The Blue Umbrella.” By night, the pool deck is the ideal spot to take in amazing views of the Disneyland park fireworks, and lounge by cozy character-inspired firepits with family and friends.
In Fall 2023, Pixar Place Hotel will welcome the team from Southern California local favorite Great Maple, which will open a flagship restaurant on the first floor and operate other food and beverage locations throughout Pixar Place Hotel. This modern American eatery specializes in upscale comfort food with a twist, serving fresh takes on American classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Normally, I’d take issue with Disney outsourcing all resort food & beverage to a third party. Not when it’s this hotel. Most of the food I’ve had at Paradise Pier Hotel has been nasty, and its dining scene has been sad for a long time. This is basically a third party hotel with Pixar decorations, anyway. It’ll be interesting to see how Club Level and character dining are handled (or are eliminated).
Signature dishes at the Great Maple will include the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Maple Bacon Doughnuts, the Cajun Shrimp & Cheddar Biscuit Benedict, and the Soda Pop-Braised Baby Back Ribs. Great Maple will also have a full bar including beer, wine and cocktails.
Great Maple’s culinary creativity will abound throughout the hotel, offering food and beverage service at the pool, as well as a new grab ‘n’ go coffee shop and café near the lobby, and eventually at the hotel’s new concierge lounge.
In terms of commentary, we are totally on board with Paradise Pier Hotel becoming Pixar Place Hotel. This might come as a surprise given our recent criticism of the newly-opened Toy Story Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as our disdain for Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure.
This should be easily reconciled for anyone who has ever heard the phrase, “making lemonade out of lemons.” (Which should be everyone.)
Let’s be brutally honest: Paradise Pier Hotel is awful. For its supposed caliber, PPH is the worst Disney hotel in the world. It’s not even a remotely close call, either. Our posts about hotels near Disneyland frequently include a similar refrain, that Paradise Pier Hotel is essentially just light Disney branding on an otherwise generic third party hotel that charges an astronomical premium for said branding.
That’s because it is. Paradise Pier Hotel is an old third party hotel. Disney bought the Pan Pacific in 1995 ahead of its construction of Disney’s California Adventure, and then tried to give it the Disneyland Hotel treatment, except with it paying tribute to the original Paradise Pier instead of Walt Disney’s Disneyland. (I don’t think it’s controversial to say Walt is more beloved with fans than DCA 1.0.)
There are a ton of great off-site hotels that are closer to Disneyland, cost less money, and are objectively better than Paradise Pier Hotel. (As you can see in our Disneyland Area Hotel Rankings & Reviews, there are 38 off-site hotels we prefer to PPH.)
Time has passed it by, and with the hotel development boom in Anaheim, it’s impossible to recommend PPH over the many superior alternatives. We haven’t the slightest idea why so many Disneyland fans defend this hotel; it must be nostalgia or the allure of all things Disney–even bad things. (Sorry, but this is the company that made Chicken Little. They’re hardly infallible.)
In other words, Paradise Pier Hotel is a lemon. It has little redeeming quality, and pretty much nowhere to go but up. Bringing in a fresh theme, reimagined spaces, and amenities that can be expected of a modern hotel will breathe new life into these aging towers. It probably won’t suddenly be Disneyland Hotel–and certainly not Grand Californian Hotel–caliber, but there’s zero chance it gets worse.
By contrast, Toy Story Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort was a brand new build. Imagineering had a blank slate, and they chose to create something that could easily have a backstory of “abandoned prison repurposed to become colorful daycare center!” (at least on the exterior). There was no retrofit–they simply went that route with Toy Story Hotel by choice. This is the opposite of making lemonade out of lemons, whatever that is. Making lemonade out of lemon layer cake, somehow (I guess?).
Honestly, part of this is also that I hold Oriental Land Co., the owner and operator of Tokyo Disney Resort, to a higher standard than Disney. This might be difficult for fans of the U.S. parks to hear, but OLC is like the Disney of the 90s, not today’s company. The slate of ambitious projects announced in the last few years should bear that out, as should the parks themselves.
The lone exception to that has been value and mid-range hotel development. First there was Celebration Hotel, which felt like a cash grab, and then Toy Story Hotel, which looks like the most risk-averse and creatively unambitious design. I’m sorry to those who like it, but Toy Story is such low-hanging fruit with so much untapped potential for imaginative and immersive areas. We’ve been settling for middling when we could easily have mind-blowing.
Ultimately, that’s why I’m optimistic about Paradise Place Hotel becoming Pixar Place Hotel. Not because I think this is a great idea that I’d want to see built from the ground up; quite the contrary. Because the current property is so underwhelming and lacking as compared to more recent construction that it will unquestionably be an improvement, and quite a dramatic one at that.
Above all else, when it comes to Disney projects, I’m a realist. Not everything can be an E-Ticket, blockbuster land, or AAA Four Diamond Award Winner. Some additions are role players, capacity adders, or retrofits that are ambitious given their real world constraints. You can’t have a park filled with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–some flat rides are needed to round out the slate. Likewise, not every property can be Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa–rounding out the resort portfolio with a new & improved Pixar Place Hotel makes complete sense.
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!
What do you think of this news about Disneyland Resort? Are you excited that Paradise Pier Hotel is getting a Pixar reimagining? Or do you think PPH is already perfect, and cannot conceivably be improved? Will this cause you to give the much-maligned resort a second look? How do you feel about Paradise Pier Hotel v. off-site third party accommodations? 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!
Stayed here 3 times prior to them closing the private entrance. The thing that was so frustrating was the elevators. Do you think they are getting refurbished, or themed stairs added ?
I liked Paradise Pier. The beds were comfortable, the rooms were clean. I liked the view of DCA. And I didn’t think the theming was bad either. I thought the beachy vibes were cute. Yes, it was too expensive but so is everything Disney and with discounts it was a decent value. Now it will be obnoxiously overpriced like another commenter said but I’m still looking forward to seeing what the new rooms look like and the new restaurant sounds really good too. I just can’t give the hate you guys give to the old Paradise Pier.
Rose colored glasses.
The only thing I’m worried about is a subpar theming and then crazy upcharges to the level of Disneyland Hotel or (god forbid) GC.
Any hints as to when in the summer the hotel perks will start? We will be at DLH June 15 and would love some extra magic for the price
I’m disappointed in this, not because I think this is a downgrade, but because I think the optimal solution for PPH is a load of dynamite and some bulldozers. Hopefully this is in the long-term plan.
This is good news to me *because* my disdain for the Paradise Pier Hotel! In my opinion, as it currently is no better than any hotel in the area that’s clearly not a 1 or 2 star hotel. The PPH is a longer walk than several of them, and more expensive than all but a few that are significantly better. This is a great opportunity to remake the hotel into a resort comparable in quality to the East Coast Deluxes and closer to the Disneyland Hotel. Quite frankly, this is likely the biggest improvement from the Pixar Pier re-reimagining since the PPH never got the upgraded Paradise Pier that DCA experienced.
The leaked Toy Story concept art looked bad, so this is a very pleasant surprise! Also glad to hear the special entrance news.
Probably wouldn’t stay here anyway, but nice to see PPH get some love.
The new Toy Story Hotel at the Tokyo Disney Resort is fabulous. Everything is design specific down to the last detail. What you’re going to get at Paradise Pier is cheap lipstick on an ugly frog. All you have to do, Tom, is remember your own comments about how Disney’s ongoing homogenized refurbishments of the hotels at Walt Disney World. They are bland and uninteresting, with most of the theming and unique elements stripped away.
Eh, I’m still willing to roll the dice and be optimistic on this. There is nothing of value to lose at Paradise Pier Hotel–no worthwhile thematic or unique elements. If the Pixar additions turn out to be uninteresting and bland, so be it. But I have a hard time imagining that it’ll somehow be worse than a hotel that currently has no pool, no restaurant, and no personality.
I’m pretty excited for the entrance into DCA – that’s such a nice perk of staying at the Grand Californian. Do you know how long of a walk that might be?
If it’s where the old entrance was located, it’ll be right next to Corn Dog Castle with the path running between Goofy’s Sky School and the Grand Californian.
Not a bad walk at all, and a HUGE perk for Paradise Pier Hotel guests. Once this entrance opens, my criticism of PPH will drop tremendously.
To anyone who is a fan of the current Paradise Pier Hotel, I’d ask which third-party Anaheim hotels you’ve stayed at that were comparably priced and roughly the same walking distance from Disneyland? How did those compare to PPH?
Did those hotels have an (open) pool? Did they have (open) restaurants? Efficient elevators?
We were always comfortable at the Paradise Pier Hotel and watched California Adventure being built from there. It was way cheaper than the Grand Californian and almost as convenient to get to Disneyland.
PCH Grill was always our go-to Restaurant on arrival night because it had good food and was always 3/4 empty and the staff was always friendly and helpful. We stopped going to the restaurant when it became characterized.
I have to be honest to ‘my-Disney’ that this upgrade is long overdue. I will be excited to see it and hope that the hotel gets a real boost in user-ship.
We have always enjoyed PP and the restaurant also! Just stayed a couple months ago. It’s always felt bright, clean, airy and newer to me than the other two. It is certainly nowhere as awful as Tom makes it sound! Lol Yes, its overpriced (as all things Disney are) and the walk is a bit longer (we crossover and use the entrance at the grand) but not a bad place to stay. I’m sure the new theme will be fun though.