Disney California Adventure’s former Paradise Pier has officially been transformed into an animation wonderland. The now-open Pixar Pier boasts cheerful decor, character appearances and must-have eats, but the award-winning film studio’s biggest task was to reinvent California Screamin’, the only coaster at Disneyland Resort with an inversion loop, as an “Incredibles”-themed ride.
The new Incredicoaster’s mechanics remain unchanged from its predecessor — same loop, same drops, same ride vehicles — but by extending the “scream tubes” previously used to keep noise levels down in the surrounding city, Walt Disney Imagineering was able to tell a story about the extraordinary family, all at 55 miles per hour.
“Incredibles 2” put Jack-Jack’s “special skills” on display, and the youngest member of the Parr family’s fiery personality, disappearing act and often gooey disposition can be seen throughout the attraction, bringing a level of immersion to the fan favorite.
In the improved ride, guests arrive to see the Incredicoaster being “rededicated” to the Parr family in celebration of their heroism. Baby Jack-Jack, due to his size, cannot participate and remains under Aunt Edna’s care until he inevitably becomes lost, leaving the rest of the Incredibles to chase him for the duration of the journey.
Dialogue voiced by the original movie cast, a reimagined vehicle launch timed to Dash’s countdown and film composer Michael Giacchino’s score keep the search for Jack-Jack moving forward, but it’s the newly enclosed spaces that aid the adventure best.
Whether Elastigirl is stretching over 50 feet to retrieve her gooey baby, rings of purple light flash within Violet’s force field, or Dash tries to retrieve the tot while avoiding his laser eyes, the Incredibles’ powers and Jack-Jack’s unpredictable talents are on full display, a feat that would have been impossible without the ingenious move to repurpose former scream shields into fully covered scenes.
Previously half-open to the surrounding Paradise Pier, the modified enclosures allow for more action, like Mr. Incredible bursting inside to entice Jack-Jack with a “Cookie Num-Num” as a chocolatey smell wafts past riders plunging down a drop. (If you still smell cookies upon exiting, it’s no coincidence; a new stand sells the freshly warmed irresistible delights.) The bold red tubes, which glow at night and necessitate an evening ride, honor Jack-Jack’s many forms as well, engulfing passengers in a flame-filled effect that rivals only his final appearance, best left as a surprise.
That said, Incredicoaster is not perfect. An outdoor sequence where Jack-Jack flexes his multiplicity doesn’t play well amidst electrical equipment and roofing and it’s no easy task to enforce characters, action and plot on an outdoor coaster, let alone one whose footprint couldn’t be physically altered. Still, Disney California Adventure managed to make something out of nothing, quite literally; delightful mid-century moments with Edna Moda and Jack-Jack were built atop former patches of grass and fresh dialogue turned stretches of empty track into detailed storylines. The parks were able to repurpose structural elements to enhance the adventure and turn necessary safeguards into entertainment, and if that ain’t Disney magic, nothing is.