Pixar Pier…and More…for Disneyland Resort
D23 Expo was light on announcements for Disneyland Resort, but the biggest surprise of the afternoon was the addition of Pixar Pier in Disney California. This will be a new look for Paradise Pier, with the addition of ‘Pixar Pals Theater’ and Pixar characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out, and Toy Story.
Disney is describing it as adding “whimsical neighborhoods” for these characters to the seaside waterfront. It’s also being billed as a continuation of the evolution of Disney California Adventure, which began a decade ago with the addition of Toy Story Midway Mania to Paradise Pier.
Pixar Place will be a permanent addition to Disney California Adventure that will debut in Summer 2018 during Pixar Fest, a celebration of all things Pixar throughout Disneyland Resort. This celebration will occur in both parks…
Over in Disneyland, there will be a brand-new Pixar fireworks show, which will utilize the Main Street USA projection mapping technology pioneered in Disneyland Forever during the Diamond Celebration.
Additionally, the interminable Pixar Play Parade will have a new lease on life, switching parks and making its Disneyland debut.
Consequently, Paint the Night will return, moving across the Esplanade to Disney California Adventure. While this is being pitched as being a result of Pixar Fest, I do not believe that’s actually the case. A new float will also be joining Paint the Night when it debuts in Disney California Adventure.
More on all of this below…
As I mentioned, this was the big surprise of the Parks & Resorts panel. This all came out of left field, with no rumors beforehand to my knowledge.
My initial reaction (there’s going to be a twist ending) with regard to Pixar Pier was this could actually work. The concept art that flashed onscreen as this announcement was made reminded me of Toyville Trolley Park, where Toy Story Mania is located in Tokyo DisneySea.
While I was not a huge fan of Toy Story Mania being added to that park, I view Toyville Trolley Park as a lemonade out of lemons scenario, and that area has always felt like it’s the best-themed integration of Toy Story Mania into any of the parks.
If the concept art is any indication, Pixar Pier will feature some of the same stylistic notes as Toyville Trolley Park. Aesthetically, I’d consider that a win. While the placemaking that led up to the relaunch of Disney California Adventure changed a lot of Paradise Pier, it mostly toned down its puns and caricatured style, making it visually ordinary in the process.
Even then, the Paradise Pier refresh felt like a stopgap. At one point, it was rumored that “Phase 2” of the Disney California Adventure overhaul would include adding a trackless dark ride “Museum of the Weird” (modeled after Mystic Manor) into the old Maliboomer (RIP) plot, but that never happened.
On a high level, I’m not concerned about losing iconic “California” themed design here. I don’t think Paradise Pier is a masterwork of themed design, nor does it draw specifically on particularly iconic piers in California (at least ones with which I’m familiar). Instead, it evokes them generally, feeling like it could be what an idealized version of the Santa Monica Pier (or something of its sort) was like in an bygone era.
While Pixar Pier also will lack a distinct California flavor (if it’s like Toyville Trolley Park, it’ll draw inspiration from Lunar Park in Australia), at least it will have more character and charm. Viewed through this prism, I consider at least part of Pixar Pier a theoretical upgrade.
However, there’s the potential for the wheels to fall off if they push this too far. What about Mickey’s Fun Wheel? Does that become Mater’s Fun Wheel? Does Cove Bar become Crush’s Bar? Should a Pixar-land even have a bar? Does Ariel’s Grotto become Anton Ego’s Grill? (Okay, that one I might be able to get behind.) What about Ariel’s Undersea Adventure? Or the several other non-Pixar attractions in Paradise Pier?
The announcement of this re-themed raises a lot of questions, and doesn’t answer any of them. It feels almost like someone had the initial gut-level reaction to seeing Toyville Trolley Park at Tokyo DisneySea as I did, and said, “this would work at Disney California Adventure, too!”
The problem is, once you get past the seaside promenade of Paradise Pier and its shops and carnival games…it does not necessarily work. And causes a lot of problems, and thematic incongruity, in the process.
We also don’t know what substantive additions this will bring with it. Based upon the concept art, my guess would be Pixar Pals Theater and Bing Bong’s Confectionary are going into the vacant plot left by the Maliboomer (RIP), with those being the only additions. It wouldn’t shock me if Pixar Pals Theater is just a Pixar meet & greet location.
This leads me to wonder whether the entire land is not going to be redone as Pixar Pier, but rather, only the stretch from between Toy Story Mania to Maliboomer (RIP) Park, with Mickey’s Fun Wheel and everything on the other side of Paradise Bay ignored completely. Pixar Pier could actually be a subland of Paradise Pier, in which case I’m totally on board with it.
Ultimately, I suppose that’s a workable approach that gives Paradise Pier a visual refresh and new entertainment, while also leaving undisturbed the aspects of Paradise Pier that work well. We also don’t know what substantive additions this will bring with it. While I’d love to see a strong family ride fill the Maliboomer (RIP) plot, if Marvel Land proves to have family-friendly attractions, I think that’s workable.
As for the parade news, it’s really…something. I’m shocked by Pixar Play Parade moving to Disneyland and replacing the Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, which is clearly the superior parade. Pixar Play Parade has gone on hiatus a few times recently for various festivals and other excuses, and my assumption was that was because everyone dislikes it as much as I do. I mean…I guess it’s fine if you like loud noises, and the cute Slinky float, but beyond that? No thanks.
It’s also interesting that Paint the Night is being bundled with this announcement, as that’s a domino effect caused by Pixar Play Parade moving. It’s not. With Fantasmic returning to Disneyland (and likely to draw record crowds) and the Halloween and Christmas seasons being busy at Disneyland, something is needed to draw crowds to Disney California Adventure.
One of those ‘somethings’ is the Halloween overlays coming to DCA. The other part of the equation was thought to be Paint the Night parade, which would (will?) debut in Disney California Adventure this fall, before October.
I don’t know if that’s no longer the plan or if this was just slick marketing to make it sound like all of this is occurring as part of a big Pixar Fest thing, but the announcement was ambiguous with regard to Paint the Night.
The other aspect of the Paint the Night announcement is to ‘expect a new float.’ New may not be the right word so much as repurposed, as one of the floats in Paint the Night cannot fit the Disney California Adventure parade route in its current form. Again, unless something has changed, there’s no net gain in terms of the parade floats.
Then there are the new Pixar fireworks coming to Disneyland. Call me old fashioned, but the park designed by Walt Disney himself–the park that still regularly milks this nostalgia–should not have a fireworks show dedicated to the creations of a company that was purchased by the Disney Company decades later. Pixar is perfectly appropriate for DCA and can be integrated into Disneyland in tasteful ways, but an entire fireworks show (or parade)? That rubs me the wrong way.
Overall, the end result of this Pixar announcement was a bit puzzling, I guess? Some of the changes to Paradise Pier could potentially enhance that area of the park depending upon the execution, but I see the best case scenario there being some nice placemaking and a new meet & greet. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff. By contrast, I could envision a worst case scenario that’s pretty bad, introducing a lot of inconsistency and unnecessary overlays into Pixar Pier if the entirety of Paradise Pier is to be redone. As for the other aspects of Pixar Fest…I’m not a fan.
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What do you think of Pixar Pier being added to/replacing Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure? Any theories of your own as to how this will be accomplished and/or whether it’ll be confined to the back portion of the pier? What do you think about Pixar Fest coming to Disneyland Resort? What about Paint the Night moving to DCA? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of these changes? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
Will the hotel change its name to Pixar Pier Hotel too or something else? It would make a great SW: Imperial Hotel or a Toy Story hotel, or Art of Pixar hotel.
That remains unclear. It’s doubtful Disney would want to take the hotel out of commission for a long refurbishment, so I think at most it’ll get a light refurbishment to Pixar.
Though I love the Luna Park vibe at Tokyo DisneySea, I think DCA’s current Toy Story Mania facade/theming is just right for its “pier” setting.
Besides it likely housing a character meet-and-greet, I think it would be great (and cost-effective) to have an *actual* theater (like Pixar Short Films at Epcot). DCA could use a sit-down, air-conditioned respite, and it would them to promotenew movies/get mileage out of old ones.
P. S. That photo of Mickey’s “Wheel of Death” and the swings spinning–sublime!
Pixar Pier was definitely out of left field. I agree that it has the potential to be a nice upgrade or just a total mess. I think what most illustrates this point was my initial reaction to the announcement. I was legitimately confused immediately after the announcement as to wether “Pixar Pier” would be a festival type overlay or a permanent change (perhaps Disney’s recent work has conditioned me to think that way). The most interesting part is what will become of the Silly Symphony Swings to Little Mermain area. I can’t imagine any change to Little Mermain however, the swings and Goofy’s Sky School? What’s going to happen there? And the biggest question is WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE GOLDEN ZEPHYR?!?!?!?!?! Will it still remains inexplicably unchanged since DCA 1.0?
Also, the Paint the Night moves makes absolute sense crowd wise. However, I wonder if on the flip side the Pixar Fireworks are meant to have the opposite effect on Disneyland. I imagine Disney wanting word to spread that the Pixar Fireworks are awful so more people will be likely to go over to DCA to see Paint the Night instead
California Adventure has always been a park struggling to find its identity, even from the very start, but I like the park that it has become over the last few years. It seems like Disney doesn’t and they want to change its identity again.
I understand the removal of many of the California elements over the years, as a lot of them just didn’t work or were not popular. Most of them were replaced, or re-themed with something better (Hollywood Limo, the Tortilla Factory, Golden Dreams). But I don’t understand why some of these attractions may be getting re-themed again. Mickey’s Fun Wheel (formerly the Sun Wheel) is going to become the Pixar Fun Wheel. Are the Silly Symphony Swings (Formerly the Orange Stinger) going to be Pixar themed too? What about Goofy’s Sky School (formerly Mulholland Madness)? I really like the classic Disney theming on these rides and will be sad if they are changed.
My wife and I joked that the park is soon going to be renamed Disney’s Marvel Pixar Adventure.
“My wife and I joked that the park is soon going to be renamed Disney’s Marvel Pixar Adventure.”
You joke, but that’s a more appropriate name at this point!
I think the Pixar Pier overlay will be a fine addition. I don’t think it will affect the overall theme of the park as it will still be a “seaside” amusement area. I also seriously doubt the theming will encroach on the area near Ariel’s Grotto or attraction. It would be possible for them to retheme the area around Goofy’s coaster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. Likely it will just be a small area as you mentioned above. I was hopeful the theater would be some kind of new show based attraction. But it is likely you are right and it will just be a better M&G area than they currently have (the Toy Story M&G is just a few props).
I am going to the Disneyland Resort in early May 2018. Is this now not a good time? I am getting a suite overlooking the park at Paradise Pier Hotel. I do not want to spend my vacation overlooking “Disney’s Construction Pier” and staying in “Disney’s Construction Pier Hotel”. Can someone tell me how this will affect my vacation and if it is still worth it during those months?
Honestly, nothing in Paradise Pier as it exists now is all that great (maybe Screamin’ which is not at all bad but I’ve never fallen in love with it). I’m not thrilled about any of the new offerings for next year, but I would say that Disneyland is good enough that it shouldn’t ultimately affect your enjoyment of it that much; other than the Pier (which has never been great anyway), I’d say the same for DCA.
As for the room no one can say for sure how it will look. I might suggest staying somewhere off property and save some money or do one of the other Disney hotels (Paradise Pier being basically a Reskin of a preexisting non-Disney hotel) unless you are deadset on the park view suite.
Is Summer 2018 considered to be after Memorial Day as it typically is in Disney fashion or is there a chance this would be done before that. I have planning to visit in mid May for years now and this has me questioning that decision. Is it reasonable to at least expect paint the night during that time frame?
Since Disneyland is not my home park…can’t say that I have strong opinions on this announcement. Although, from reading this blog, it sounds like a lot of changes are going to be taking place in the next couple years, this…Marvel Land etc, Star Wars still being completed. I’m wondering if 2018 (April-ish) will be a bad year to visit…do you anticipate a lot of construction walls in DCA, or do you think this will be a quick overlay? Without being as familiar with the West Coast parks, it’s hard to tell what kind of effect this will have. BTW, thanks for all your “on the ground” reporting of the announcements at D23! I’ve been checking and rechecking the blog all weekend for the latest news!
This is getting ridiculous. Paradise Pier is a work of art. Disney already ruined Hollywood Land, don’t ruin Paradise Pier. I’m utterly disgusted. What ever happened to California Adventure being CALIFORNIA related? I really can’t believe what a cash grab this is.
Bonus points for using the phrase “cash grab.” Always love that tired expression, lol.
The only place the Pixar Parade belongs is in the garbage. Soundsational is probably due for a replacement, but not like this.
Pixar Pier without Pixar Parade and Pixar fireworks? Weird. They changed the Orange Peel swing ride to Silly Symphony swings in the previous renovation. This change is completely unnecessary, but I can see the logic when you realize DHS added Toy Story Land and included Toy Story Mania to the attractions line up. So will California Screamin’ and King Triton’s carousel become Pixar rides? We’ll see.
I always thought Paradise Pier could be quickly improved by re-theming it to Pixar. It just seems to fit well into that area. To be honest the theming for Paradise Pier is boring and lackluster. I’m not saying Pixar Pier will be great but it’ll be an easy improvement. I just hope they don’t remake California Screamin’ into a Slinky Coaster!
What bugs me is the Disney world area still has no parade replacing either magic or animal kingdom parades. I really enjoy the night time parades and I hope we get one back soon
Agreed! The lack of parades at WDW is ridiculous. I was so hoping for a related announcement this weekend. Very disappointing.
Pixar Parade is not a night parade. Which is why the announcement of it swapping with PTN is kind of odd. I enjoy the Pixar Parade, but I hope it’s just a temporary switch.
WDW had tons of new stuff announced.
Hmmm, I am wondering how this Pixar Pier announcement might play into your idea of moving the “A Bug’s Land” rides to the pier area? It seems rather logical at this point.
Maybe…but if all of this is opening by Summer 2018, that’s a rather ambitious turnaround time.
If you look at the concept art, it says Pixar Fun Wheel. 🙁
Oh wow…I see that now. That took turning my monitor brightness all the way up and squinting. Jeez…I hope that’s just the concept art and it doesn’t come to pass.