EDITORIAL: Pixar Pier Should Be the Model for How to Expand Disney Parks

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Two days after Pixar Pier opened, I was able to make my way to Disney’s California Adventure. Having been a big fan of Paradise Pier, I’ll admit I was nervous. I missed the Cove Bar and I missed hearing Neil Patrick Harris announce the takeoff of California Screamin’. And yet, ten seconds after setting foot into Pixar Pier, I didn’t miss any of it.

Paradise vs Pixar

Pixar Pier is proof of what Disney does best and that’s telling a story. Paradise Pier might have been great fun, but it always lacked story. I may have loved California Screamin’ but its story was a roller coaster on a beachside pier. The story wasn’t much deeper than that.

At the moment, Pixar Pier isn’t fully open so I can’t speak for the Inside Out section (although I am a fan of the Angry Dogs stand). That’s set to open with Inside Out’s Emotional Whirlwind in 2019. Right now the sections that are open are the Incredibles and Toy Story.

The Incredibles

The Incredibles, who have been a part of Pixar since 2004 and have always had a huge following, just had their sequel after a 14 year hiatus. They’ve been around the Disney Parks for many years, but the Incredicoaster is their first ride appearance. And Disney went all out. From the Incredibles arch that’s beautifully done in comic book style to the superheroes headquarters the ride takes off from, everything feels like it popped right out of the movies. Right now the line for the Incredicoaster is rather long, as is usually the case for new attractions, so Disney smartly put Jack Jack’s Cookie Num Nums directly next to the attraction. Even with a two hour wait, it’s hard to be mad when you’re munching on the best cookies Disneyland has to offer.

The ride itself is a perfect example of Disney’s strong storytelling abilities. Although the track is very similar to California Screamin’, the ride briefly slows down in all of the added tunnels. Doing this allows the rider to hear the story and to see the special effects, like a goopy Jack Jack or a stretching Elastigirl. It’s no longer just a roller coaster. It’s a chase to find and catch Jack Jack!

Toy Story

Further down the pier, Toy Story takes over. Toy Story has been a part of Paradise Pier for several years and it fit the beachside pier theme with Midway Mania. However, the jump of suddenly being a toy on the ride and a human on the pier made for a not very smooth transition. Now Pixar Pier inherently includes a mini Toy Story Land. You slowly transform into a toy the longer you walk on the pier. All of a sudden you look around and there’s a giant Fun Meal from Poultry Palace and a Zurg toy that’s just your size! I imagine that when Jessie’s Critter Carousel opens in 2019, this effect will become even stronger.

New Land from Old Ideas

Every last detail of Pixar Pier was thought out. The construction signs for Jessie’s ride are coming soon announcements from Al’s Toy Barn. Buzz, courtesy of his Spanish mode from “Toy Story 3,” has a churro stand. The Abominable Snowman from “Monsters Inc” is selling his famous lemon snow cones. All the umbrellas on the pier are designed after the famous Pixar ball. Pixar Pier did the impossible. It tells a million stories and managed to cohesively combine them all into one place.

The most impressive thing is that these are stories we already know. Stepping into Pixar Pier feels both new and old at the same time. There’s immediately a sense of nostalgia in seeing the “Adventure is down there” poster with the Up balloons or “Find your special moment” with Wall-E and Eve.

Disney has managed to recreate so many parts of our childhood while also bringing us new stories.

The New Model

I haven’t seen Toy Story Land. I’m on the wrong coast. So I can’t speak to that. But what I do know is that Disney is planning on doing a lot more expanding even after Toy Story Land. There’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Marvel Land (which probably won’t be called that) will open in Disneyland. There are so many new things coming. And Pixar Pier is making me hopeful that Disney knows what they are doing.

It’s more than just creating something cool or something pretty or something with fun attractions. It’s about telling a story the way the new pier does. I hope that Disney doesn’t forget this in any of their new lands.

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JacquelineG

23 Comments

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  • This is so terrible. “Disney went all out for the Incredibles” Oh yeah those static figures in the tubes! Budget cuts to the ride! Wow! This is an embarrassment. I hope no one takes this seriously. Really, Pixar Pier is a cheap mess. How blind and stupid can one be? Holy cow.

    • Have you been on the ride? I have. I’ve ridden it three times and I can safely say that it does not matter that the characters have no movement. Riders zoom past at such rapid speed that movement is not needed. Though it would be nice if the figures of Edna moved a little. Perhaps they will do that someday.

      Budget cuts have never been confirmed. That is nothing but speculation and baseless assumptions.

    • You’re very rude to insult someone like that.
      Have you been on the ride? I have. I’ve ridden three times, and I can safely say that it does not matter that the characters have no movement. Rides zoom past at such rapid speed that movement is not needed. Though it would be nice if the figures of Edna moved a little. Perhaps someday they will do that.

      Budget cuts have never been confirmed. That is all just speculation and baseless assumptions.

    • People are entitled to have their own opinions. Anyone who feels “only people who think like me are correct” is a narcissist.

  • I think Toy Story Land is better (theming wise
    ). Pixar Pier was just a re-theme of paradise pier.TSL was made from scratch.

  • The coaster was not “slowed down” and it runs at the same speed it always ran. Slowing down a ride dependant on gravity and momentum to complete it’s circuit is not a good idea. If anything I would even say that they lessened the trim break before the loop from it’s previous version because it didn’t feel like it took as much off it, but it was definitely still there.

    • Well when you can only do so much when putting lipstick on a pig, and that is what Paradise Pier was. The very type of place Walt sat in while dreaming up something better.

  • Jacqueline pay no attention to the haters and complainers. I for one was very happy to finally see a review and report that wasn’t just one big gripe and complaint fest about how Disney changed something, got it all wrong and ruined it. I would imagine that most of those that are whining and complaining have yet to step one foot in to the newly revamped land. Also, if you like it and you had a good time, that is all that matters. I believe you went in with the right attitude and outlook, which is excited and looking to have a good time. So many people that claim to be Disney “fans” do nothing but whine, gripe, complain, and criticize any and everything Disney does in and with the parks, hotels, restaurants, and attractions. True fans of something like and enjoy what they are fans of for the most part. They don’t constantly complain about and criticize about something they like. So many of them miss the point of what Disney is trying to do. Perfect example is how I have seen many complaints about how “cheap and plasticy” the new Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios looks. First off, they are making this assessment and judgement before the new land is even open, which they have not seen or experienced in person. And secondly, things are supposed to look cheap and “plasticy”. The themeing is toys, which are mostly made cheaply and from plastic. It is sad in so many ways that people who don’t have first hand experience of something are so arrogant to think that they are qualified not only to judge that thing, but that they are arrogant enough to think that they get to criticize someone else’s opinion who actually went and enjoyed themselves. So ignore the haters and keyboard trolls who falsely claim to be fans and whose lives are so miserable that they want to drag you down to their level. just ignore them because they aren’t worth the time. As I have long said, never get into an argument with a stupid person. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

    • I agree with you Michael. Thank you so much for your comment. I agree that it’s futile to try to argue or be logical with a stupid person. Sometimes though against my better judgement I will try and be logical with someone like that. Unfortunately most negative people on the Internet just want to stay inside their bubble and be mean-spirited to anyone who has a positive opinion.
      It’s pathetic, really. If people are negative, then they say that it’s their “opinion” but if anyone is positive then they are labeled as a “corporate shill”. So childish.

  • Ok. . . I’m on the East Coast. From what I can see online. . . the ending looks awful. In one concept art piece there was a new tunnel for the ride ending. Instead there is this add on of LARGE Jack, Jack that looks like they added a mobile home with a large window. . . HOW AWFUL. ALSO!!!! DISNEY BORDERS ON CHILD ABUSE with there not being one element with Air Conditioning in Florida at their new Toy Story Land. Shame on you DISNEY for being so penny conscious that you make little, little kids stand in unbearable heat FOR HOURS!!!!!! IN THE OPPRESSIVELY HOT FLORIDA SUN!!! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!!! hope you make lots of money on Toy Story Land. . .

  • Everyone likes different things for different reasons, and I’m genuinely glad the author enjoyed Pixar Pier. I simply can’t deny that my interpretation is that the area was a cheap fix with a clear lack of identity and an intent to cash in on an established recognisable franchise in hopes of creating an illusion of being ‘current’ and ‘relevant’- yuck. Theme parks need to grow and to change of course, but they should challenge perceptions of what a theme park can be about. The world is full of such great history, culture and ideas- it should be more than ‘A land with rides themed to some films’

  • Not everything needs to be an immersive world. It’s true that Harry Potter and Cars Land set a new standard, but not *every* new theme park area needs to be like that. Pixar Pier is a turn-of-the-century boardwalk split into three neighborhoods; Incredibles, Toy Story, and Inside Out. That’s all there is to it, and that is not a bad thing.

  • I’m not sure what “story” the new pixar pier is telling, besides a collection of unrelated characters and attractions that somewhat for their names. The “story” behind the old theming is to step into a by-gone yester-year as if you were there at the turn of the 20th century. I love when Disney transports you to another time, think main Street. It doesn’t have to have IP theming everywhere. This is not a new “land,” far from it actually. Radiator springs is a better example of what Disney should be doing in the parks, not simply poorly overlaying existing rides. There you are immersed in the story, becoming a character yourself.

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