Summer at Disneyland and California Adventure is typically a Dole Whip-filled, Splash Mountain-riding affair, but starting this weekend it’s all about Pixar Pier.
The soon-to-open land themed to the various characters and cinematic storylines from Pixar’s vast library of films will bring new shops, restaurants, entertainment, play areas and meet-and-greets to Disney California Adventure’s waterfront expanse along with two re-conceived attractions. (Toy Story Mania, the joyously competitive shootout game, will remain open and unchanged.)
As the park’s first Pixar Animation Studios-helmed expansion since Cars Land opened six years ago, the re-imagined area honors its previous incarnation as Paradise Pier, blending turn-of-the-century coastal Californian style with classic seaside accoutrement and, naturally, a cast of animated faces fans know and love.
From must-book reservations to colorful sugary delights, here’s what to expect when the historic film studio sets up its permanent theme park home on June 23.
Two fan-favorite attractions will soon be transformed.
Incredicoaster, the most anticipated opening this year, will debut a storyline as thrilling as its drops and inversion loop centered around Jack-Jack Parr’s newfound superpowers — which, as seen in Incredibles 2, are aplenty. Pixar Pal-A-Round, modeled after Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel, will boast a bright new look with beloved character pairings on its swinging and stationary gondolas.
The roller coaster, formerly known as California Screamin’, and ferris wheel, which lived previous lives as the Sun Wheel and Mickey’s Fun Wheel, have been popular attractions since opening at the park in 2001, but Pixar Pier’s reimagining will breathe new life into these time-tested rides.
Pixar Pier is more than just a new land.
Disney California Adventure has expanded the former Paradise Pier into four distinctly themed areas. One will boast mid-century touches and design details honoring The Incredibles, while another will feature “Toy Story” attractions, shopping and dining. A third “neighborhood” will encompass all things Pixar (more on that below) and the fourth will permanently introduce “Inside Out”’s emotive characters to the theme park for the first time.
Nearly every movie you can think of will be represented
From colorful carnival games to Pixar Pal-A-Round buckets swinging in the sky, plan to be greeted by familiar faces everywhere. The Pixarmonic Orchestra, a colorful group whose quirky renditions of film scores have been a hit with early summer guests, will perform from a themed bandshell while billboards in the likeness of old seaside advertisements with nods to Coco and WALL-E will serve as decor throughout.
A designated Pixar Promenade area will even be used as an all-encompassing mini-land, so expect characters from Pixar films we don’t even know about yet to call it home in the coming years. We’ll also be keeping our eyes peeled for easter eggs — of which we’re told there will be plenty — and not-so-hidden references to Pixar’s productions everywhere from “Monsters, Inc.”-inspired cocktails to insider-y names of gift shops.
There’s even more on the way.
Not everything will open with Pixar Pier when the land debuts on June 23. Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff, which will sell rainbow cotton candy, character-shaped cake pops and sweet candy tears (like in “Inside Out”) is delayed until later this summer. Two new rides will also come in 2019: Jessie’s Critter Carousel, on which guests will ride the adorable woodland creatures from “Toy Story 2” and an “Inside Out” spinning ride, of which details remain slim.
If you’re in search of Instagrammable food, come hungry.
Adorable Snowman’s lemon-y soft-serve and Pixar-themed parfaits, which dunk the frozen treat in a cup of refreshing blue raspberry slush, have already garnered a following, but plenty others stand to be discovered throughout summer. Pixar Pier’s six soon-to-open dining locations will offer hot dogs, fried chicken, churros and cookies, all themed to those animated features and short films the studio is known for.
Our expert opinion: Make your dinner reservations now.
Lamplight Lounge is likely to become an instant hit. The new table-service restaurant, which replaces Ariel’s Grotto restaurant, is Disneyland Resort’s first gastropub and wears the name well. Hearty eats, like puffy manchego cheese-topped potato skins and pancetta-topped salmon sandwiches, will be served alongside craft cocktails and California-brewed beers, including an exclusive pour from local brewery Bottle Logic. (We hear the donuts, which come with dipping sauces, are a must-have.) Heed our advice or not, you’ll still be able to indulge because Cove Bar, the former go-to patio for cocktails and lobster nachos, has been absorbed into Lamplight Lounge, letting guests order share plates and select menu items upstairs on a whim.