We’re back with an update from Disneyland Resort! This time with a look at all the changes to Downtown Disney, including a variety of new shops, restaurants, and merchandise. We also have an update on the new Pixar Pals Parking Structure, which races to be ready in time for the onslaught of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds.
Disney previously set a July 2019 deadline for Pixar Pals, and progress has moved at a swift pace since then. Work is beginning to wrap up on the structure itself, with character signage installed on each level, brickwork laid outside the structure, and new new tram drop-off and pick-up area almost done. Given the recent pace of construction, it’s safe to say the new internal target is June 24, 2019. Given that parking has filled to capacity several times in May–before Star Wars Land–Pixar Pals needs to be done by June 24.
Is it weird to say that I’m excited for a parking structure? Because I’m very excited for Pixar Pals Parking Structure. Until you’ve experienced the frustration of driving here only to be redirected to Toy Story Lot (or, worse yet, having all parking closed to capacity), I don’t think you can truly understand the joy that expanded parking can bring to a Disneyland fan…
One of the final pieces of the puzzle is the pedestrian bridge that will cross above Magic Way and connect from Pixar Pals to Downtown Disney, allowing guests to skip the trams (and lines for them) and instead walk to the Esplanade. This will connect on the second level (the exact location is visible in the picture below) and ease foot traffic congestion at the intersection of Disneyland Drive and Magic Way.
Is it weird to say that I’m excited for a parking structure’s pedestrian bridge? Because I am. There’s probably less enthusiasm for this, but I hate hassling with the trams, and the walk has gotten more challenging in the last few years–along with the intersection being more congested.
The walk through Downtown Disney is a nice way to transition from the real world to the Disneyland ‘resort experience’ and I hope/expect this pedestrian bridge will facilitate a more pleasant stroll from the parking structures to the theme parks.
Here are more photos of the latest progress on the Pixar Pals Parking Structure:
That last one is (obviously) not the new parking structure; it’s the backside of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been watching the progress on this construction for over three years. In fact, here’s a look at our first construction photo–from pretty much the exact same location–back in April 2016:
Pretty wild that this was backstage facilities and Big Thunder Ranch (RIP) only a few years ago…and will soon welcome tons of guests in one of Disney’s biggest-budget expansion projects ever.
Since our last update, a ton of new things have opened in Downtown Disney. It has undergone a fairly radical substantive, if not aesthetic, refurbishment in the last few years.
It wasn’t long ago that we had zero interest in leaving Disneyland or Disney California Adventure to eat here (it didn’t help that it was on the other side of security); now it has quite the formidable dining lineup.
Some of these new options include Splitsville Luxury Lanes, Ballast Point Brewing Co., Salt & Straw scoop shop, and Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. Black Tap is pictured above, drawing quite the line in rainy weather. Fear not, as we’ll soon be reviewing both that and Ballast Point.
We might also have to revisit the re-designed Naples Ristorante e Bar and Napolini Pizzeria just to confirm the pizza is as good as before. It’s grueling research, but someone has to do it.
The newest shop to open in Downtown Disney is Sugarboo & Co., a specialty boutique with imprinted jewelry, handmade ceramics, paper goods, and decor with inspirational sayings.
Sugarboo & Co. calls itself a “Dealer in Whimsy” which is a meaningless saying, but whatever. This shop definitely is not my cup of tea, but this type of thing is hip right now, so I could see it being popular. (Different strokes for different folks and all that.)
The Dress Shop, a popular offering at the Marketplace Co-op in Disney Springs, now has a location at Downtown Disney. Some cool Mickey 90th Anniversary items on display.
Another recent addition is Rinse Bath & Body Co., a charming new boutique featuring fresh and natural products. Rinse carries handcrafted soaps, body oils, pucker stick lip balms, beard bars, bath and shower bombs. The lip balms have Disney snack-inspired flavors of churro, frozen lemonade, ice cream bar, and pineapple cream.
We’ll wrap up with a look at some of the new merchandise in World of Disney:
This sweatshirt has replaced the spirit jersey as the official uniform of the cool Disney kids in Southern California. A couple of movable racks full of them in World of Disney, and just looking down Main Street at any given moment, you an see at least a few people wearing them.
Not that you care, but I think these hoodies are far superior to literally every spirit jersey ever.
This whole line by Junk Food is great.
They’re a bit pricier than standard Disney shirts, but Junk Food is a premium brand typically sold at upmarket retailers, so that’s to be expected.
The most notable new releases are from the Rainbow Disney Collection, which Disney stated is to celebrate Pride Month. It should go without saying, but anyone can buy or wear this merchandise. The rainbow designs are vibrant and eye-catching, and some of these things have a retro flair.
Disney has offered similar rainbow releases in past June, but has always avoided the words “Pride Month” or “LGBTQ.” This is the first time the connection has been made clear, and the Pride Month collection this year is a huge step in the right direction.
The Disney Rainbow Collection includes more than fifty vibrant products that are “inspired by the incredible diversity of Disney fans around the world.”
Additionally and most significantly, in celebration of Pride Month, Disney will donate 10% of the proceeds of any Rainbow Disney Collection item purchased to GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools for LGBTQ students. Kudos.
Overall, things are looking pretty good at Downtown Disney and around the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals Parking Structures. Having such an upbeat perspective on Downtown Disney is an oddly foreign feeling, but I really like the direction things are heading, and hope this trend continues. Having an upbeat perspective on Pixar Pals is less foreign. I’m a known parking lot enthusiast.
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!
Do you think Pixar Pals will be ready by June 24? What do you think of the new merchandise at Disneyland? Glad or sad to see spirit jerseys fading in popularity? Thoughts on anything else? 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!