In just a few days, the gates will open to one of the most highly anticipated Disneyland renovations in a long time... Pixar Pier is almost here! Now granted, those gates will open one day earlier for some lucky people who could afford the almost $300 tickets to enjoy the Pixar Pier Premiere and I'm sure we're going to see some amazing content posted in those first few hours, but for now, we're going to dive deep on what we can confirm about the newest land at California Adventure.
Brittany and I are not only huge Pixar fans, but we are also huge California Adventure fans and since the pier shut down in January we've been eagerly awaiting it's reopening. California Adventure is, for a variety of reasons, the most unloved of all the Disney parks, even internationally. It's always struggled to find its audience, having not only gone through a name change, but also an entire overhaul in 2012. I personally never visited the park pre-2012, but I have an obsession with learning about the Disney parks and I've done a ton of research into the history of the park and I can understand why it put a bad taste in some peoples mouths.
I won't bore you with too much about the parks past (here is a great article by Tom Bricker which does an amazing job of it though), because we're here to talk about the NOW of the park and what you can expect moving forward. In fact, many people are even referring to recent events at DCA as the "second overhaul" of the park. There's a noticeable turn from the very obviously California themed attractions, to more modern and movie inspired fare. Pixar Pier is only the beginning since we already know that A Bug's Land will be getting a Marvel Super Hero rebranding soon as well.
Man, do I keep getting side-tracked! Ok fine, we're here to talk about PIXAR PIER and now I will do just that...
We actually don't have to do too much speculating or research to find out what's going on with the pier, because right inside of DCA there's an amazing, and often under looked area, known as Blue Sky Cellars. Blue Sky is actually a showcase area for Walt Disney Imagineering, the developers of all the Disney Resorts and other entities, and for the last few months they've had a spectacular preview of the new offerings coming to the pier.
Ok we'll get right to the most asked question... "What is going on with California Screaming?" For the one person who doesn't know yet, it's becoming The Incredicoaster! Now for me personally this is a huge deal for a variety of reasons. I already loved the rollercoaster as it was, but now it's being rebranded to showcase my favorite animated family, The Parrs!
The Incredicoaster will be so much more than just a rollercoaster. It's not only a great representation of the midcentury modern architecture and style found in the the Incredibles movies, but beyond that it's a ride that will bring us right into the story. The ride will feature several scenes or "moments" where the characters will bring some plot points into the ride and this is what I'm most excited for. In my opinion, this is one of the things Disney does best, I can ride a ride anywhere, but Disney is a place where I can interact with and experience characters and story that I'm already invested in. I am beyond excited to ride this and I'm assuming it will be my new favorite Disney ride, just gonna have to make sure to get Fast Passes early for this one!
Toy Story Midway Mania will still be a big anchor attraction for the pier, but it will soon be joined by another Toy Story themed attraction, Jessie's Critter Carousel. This will take the place of King Triton's Carousel and will feature characters specifically from the fictional "Woody's Roundup" TV show within the larger Toy Story universe. As far as rides go it is "just" a carousel, but more importantly this ride will serve as an entry way between the themed neighborhoods directing you into the Toy Story area. (As of the writing of this post, the Critter Carousel will be open at a later date, not with the opening of the pier.)
Mickey's Fun Wheel will now be known as Pixar Pal-A-Round. The ferris wheel cars have been re-themed with some old and new Pixar characters, but don't worry Mickey's smiling face will remain the centerpiece. There had apparently been discussions about removing Mickey, but let's just say that idea quickly faded once the public heard the rumors.
There is one more unannounced attraction that will be coming to the pier (also not for the opening according to reports) and the assumption is it will be inspired by the movie Inside Out. There is a whole neighborhood of the pier themed to Inside Out with shops and restaurants, so that, along with the fact that you can obviously see some sort of ride in the concept photos, has made it pretty clear where it will be.
Alright I'm sure some of you have just scrolled right past The Rides to have your most burning question answered... "What is going on with Cove Bar?" Cove Bar is gone, along with the adjacent Ariel's Grotto, and in its place will rise The Lamplight Lounge! The story behind the new watering hole is that the owner of the lounge was a friend to many of Pixar's animators over the years and it became their favorite place to hang out. So while the new bar isn't Pixar "themed" per se, it will have many nods to Pixar such as left over doodles and sketches left there by the animators.
What was formerly two separate restaurants will now be one two-story spot with a pub feel, featuring a menu of small plates intended to be shared. The downstairs restaurant area will feature a full menu and the upstairs bar will only have a subset of that menu. Don't worry, the famous Lobster Nachos aren't going anywhere and if you know about the Not-So-Secret Menu at Cove Bar, you will still be able to order many, if not all, of those drinks as well.
Pixar Pier will feature many other dining opportunities in the form of "food carts" that are themed to the different areas. Confirmed are Poultry Palace, Angry Dogs, and Señor Buzz Churros. Already open is Adorable Snowman's Frosted treats. And while not confirmed, it can be seen in much of the concept art, that there will be some kind of Jack Jack cookie shop near the Incredicoaster.
I've already gotten some "Don't Worry It's Lemon" soft serve at the Adorable Snowman and I am definitely a fan. This shop serves up lemon Dole Whip in cones or cups and I will say that even not being a fan of white chocolate usually, you have to get your cone "snowcapped". I've also eaten the Pixar Fest corn dog at The Corn Dog Castle (a hot link sausage and Cajun chicken sausage, with pepper jack cheese, all dipped in corn dog batter) and while it is supposed to be inspired by The Incredibles, I think they would be missing a huge opportunity if they didn't add that to the Angry Dog menu.
There's no doubt about it, Pixar Pier is going to feature some amazing rides and food that are all going to be new favorites for some of us, but the best part of it all is just going to be the Pixar-ness of it all... Not a word? Too bad!
Seriously, Pixar movies have been making us laugh, cry, jump out of our seats, and cheer since we first saw Toy Story in 1999. But now we have a whole land that will surround us with our favorite characters and make us part of the action. Aside from character meet and greets, there will be other "moments" such as photo-op billboards and just the theming of the neighborhoods themselves.
A New Beginning
We won't be able to visit the new land ourselves until June 28th, but we've already got our reservations for The Lamplight Lounge and we're almost finished making our outfits (let's just say they're "super"). We could not be more excited for this, alright I may be a little more excited for Galaxy's Edge, but where Galaxy's Edge has been so secretive and closed off, I've literally been watching Pixar Pier being built for months. I'm just ready for it to be open already and like everything else with Disney, I'm sure it will be worth the wait!
Since we can't walk around the pier yet I'll just close with this video I was able to take of the concept model and let you stroll through the new neighborhoods at your own pace. Thanks for reading and you can look forward to our coverage of the pier as soon as we cross through the gate ourselves!