Disney has announced that Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort will soon get a Pixar-themed reimagining. 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.
This news comes out of Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock’s meeting with Anaheim community leaders about upcoming plans for new experiences coming to the Disneyland Resort. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what’s on the horizon for guests who stay at the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort.
While this is primarily about Pixar Pier Hotel, there were some guest benefits covered as well, so let’s start with those. Beginning in Summer 2022, guests staying at one of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort will be able to enjoy several new and returning uniquely Disney benefits to staying with us on property.
Guests can also look forward to “Hey Disney!” in their hotel rooms at Disneyland Resort later this year. This is a new kind of voice assistant that works alongside Alexa on Amazon Echo devices that can make your stay at Disneyland Resort more convenient, engaging, and enjoyable.
Later this summer, guests of the Hotels at Disneyland Resort can look forward to the ability to send select theme park purchases back to their resort hotel.
Last but not least, early entry access is coming back in Summer 2022. Guests staying at one of the Hotels of Disneyland Resort can be among the first to enter and begin enjoying select theme park attractions and experiences. (Presumably, this will also be offered to select Good Neighbor Hotels and ticket package purchases, hence “among the first” instead of “the first” in the copy above.)
Now for the main story: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will soon begin a transformation, with an all-new theme! The reimagining of the hotel will weave the artistry of Pixar into its comfortable, contemporary setting.
Guests will gain a new perspective on some of their favorite Pixar worlds and characters through carefully curated artwork, and décor that reveals the creative journey of the artists who helped bring these stories to life.
Guests will be welcomed into whimsical character moments, like the iconic, playful Pixar Lamp balancing atop its ball in the lobby.
Perhaps most significantly, a walkway is currently under construction which will soon give Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel guests a convenient entrance to Disney California Adventure. (This previously existed in the early days of DCA 1.0; presumably some of that infrastructure still exists.)
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. 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 35 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 Pier Hotel becoming Pixar Pier 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 Pier Hotel makes complete sense.
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!