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Celebrating Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort, June 2018 - A Report
DisneyDan  Saturday, July 7, 2018 7:09:59 AM
Hello everyone,

Pixar Fest is in full swing at Disneyland Resort in California, and we were there recently to check it out.

To begin, let's take a look at the decor that greets you as you walk from the hotels and parking, through Downtown Disney and the Esplanade.

Over all, not all together thrilling, though some of the topiaries are neat. The simplistic look continues into the park, with a topper at each parks' entrance, and plain red, yellow and blue banners up both Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street.

Merchandise follows a similar style as some of the character banners, and while some of it is nice, we only bought the MouseEars because we collect them. We did want some t-shirts, but they either didn't have the styles we liked in adults sizes, or they were sold out of the one adult shirts they had. The coolest thing they had was an UP balloon, but as we all know, balloons don't make very good long-lasting souvenirs, and are expensive for the privilege. It should be noted that Pixar Fest still has two months left at time of writing, yet when we were there two weeks ago, merchandise was scarce.

There is a little more decor in Disney California Adventure, with some signage over at Paradise Gardens and some cute posters in Cars Land. Trolley Treats also makes some fun window displays.

Disney California Adventure (DCA) also has some small photo opportunities for Pixar Fest, which we took advantage of. The Cars Land one is of course the best, but the Buzz wings idea is cute, and we always get photos with us with signs and frames where possible!

Continuing the decor theme for a moment, and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port has temporarily become the Alien Pizza Planet. It's a fun overlay. I especially like the parody posters on the walls.

The monorails are not immune from the Pixar invasion, and have their own overlays, too. We only saw two of them during our trip, but as far as I know there should be a third.

Throughout both parks there are a whole host of food items to discover. Most of it is dessert type items, but there are some main dishes, too. A lot of it we couldn't eat because of being vegetarian (even the sweet treats, since Disney use gelatin based marshmallows in their products), but we tried what we could. The Monster Mint Shake was honestly a little underwhelming, but the Whoop-Eye Pie was nice. The funnel cake was probably my favourite item we tried.

Even the receipts have gone all-out Pixar themed...

Throughout the day you can catch the Pixarmonic Orchestra at Pixar Pier. While they are billed on the times guide under the Pixar Fest header, I have a suspicion that the brand new band shell at Pixar Pier is not going to sit empty once Pixar Fest ends. I suspect the band is in fact a permanent feature, but since they are new, and Pixar Fest is highlighted on the front of the guide, it made sense to list them there.

Similarly, Operation: Playtime featuring the Green Army Men is listed under Pixar Fest, but they have in fact been at the park for many years. I didn't even bother to watch them because it has been the same show forever. If you have never seen them, though, I have put some photos below from a previous viewing back in April 2015.

One of the major shake-ups for Pixar Fest is the revival of the Pixar Play Parade, replacing Soundsational at Disneyland park. Honestly, I have never been a fan of Soundsational and rarely stood to watch it anyway, but Pixar Play Parade was never memorable in any capacity. To move it from its hiatus at DCA over to Disneyland seems, well, uninspired at best. There are some new additions, however, but nothing comes for free, and of course the parade suffered losses to accommodate these "additions." Over the years, at DCA, Pixar Play Parade had - and lost - Lotso, Little Bo Peep, an entire Ratatouille section, various monsters from Monsters Inc, Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater, various additional Finding Nemo fishes (such as Bloat), and lots more other performers and puppets. The new sections consist of the Pixar Ball and Luxo Lamp, Joy and Sadness, and Carl, Dug, and Kevin (with Russell on her back). They still spray water at you, and it's still the same music.
You can get a special VIP area to watch the parade, if you dine at the Plaza Inn and buy into a special package.

It should be noted, that even though the parade is one of the key parts of Pixar Fest, and the new characters and floats are really what hold it together, we watched it several times (entirely for photos of Kevin), and some days the Up unit is there, and sometimes it isn't. To stand and wait for Pixar Play Parade to see the new characters, and for them to be absent is a huge disappointment, and a waste of everyone's time.

A Disney Park wouldn't be true to form if it didn't offer a dance party during a special seasonal event, and of course Pixar Fest didn't escape the indignity. Pixar Pals Dance Party is hosted at the Tomorrowland Terrace, and it goes about as well as you'd expect. That area is pretty small, and of course all anyone wants to do is meet their favourite characters. Characters we saw when we were there were Russell and Dug, the Green Army Men, and Remy and Emile. I was surprised to see anyone from Ratatouille honestly, since Disney seem to have almost forgotten they exist around the rest of Pixar Fest.

Together Forever is the new fireworks display for the event, and potentially until Christmas. With Pixar Pier just opening, I don't foresee them switching back to anything else for the fall, but I could be wrong. I have seen many fireworks displays at Disneyland over the years, and the best will always be "Remember", followed by "Magical". Seeing Dumbo fly above Sleeping Beauty Castle to "Baby Mine" can never not tug at your heart strings. The Up house and Buzz Lightyear don't have quite the same effect, at least not over Sleeping Beauty Castle. This display also seems to lack, well, fireworks, honestly. They rely too much on projections, which is difficult if you're actually trying to watch the fireworks, because there are so many trees, and people with cell phones above their heads, and kids on shoulders. The display is also very short - around 12 minutes. I'm not sure exactly what the solution is, besides at least taking out some very obstructive trees, but Together Forever really didn't do it for us.

Now, we come to the character greetings. To their credit, Disneyland put in a nice area over at the Paradise Gardens area of DCA, but of course we can't always have nice things, and during our trip they stopped using it, and now the characters are spread out across the packed Pixar Pier against construction walls and in front of queues to attractions. The times guide lists the characters at Pixar Pier as being part of Pixar Fest, but I suspect that at least the Incredibles and Toy Story characters will remain once the event ends in September, though I am not sure about the Monsters or Up characters since their locations are horrendous.
Princess Atta vanished from the face of the Earth once Pixar Pier opened (Flik was randomly appearing in "a bug's land, but of course that fate is doomed), but we did get Mike back (Sulley sometimes appears in Hollywood Land randomly anyway), and Edna Mode of course made her debut. I warn you, the lines can be bad on Pixar Pier, especially for the Incredibles. It isn't that they were horrifically long, but they switch them out (like they do during Christmas and Halloween, too, and something almost entirely unique to Disneyland, which at WDW would never fly) and so you could wait for half an hour, only to be told Edna is leaving and you'll get Frozone instead. Very frustrating.

Finally, we come to Paint the Night. I'll admit, I never disliked Paint the Night, but I was never its biggest fan (and we saw it in both DCA and Hong Kong). My favourite nighttime parades have always been SpectroMagic, FantIllusion and Dreamlights. However, I digress, and the point is, actually, Paint the Night worked for me at DCA this trip more than it ever did at Disneyland park or Hong Kong Disneyland. I like that Frozen was removed. The entire universe doesn't have to depend on Anna and Elsa holding it together with "Let It Go" constantly. I like the new Incredibles float, and I think the parade's energy works better for DCA. I don't usually condone "adding" something by replacing something else, but in this instance, Frozen is better off gone.

It probably sounds like all I have done is complain about Pixar Fest, and I suppose really, I have. That isn't to say we didn't have fun, though, because we did. Moving the characters from the Paradise Gardens to Pixar Pier was a mistake. Sure, the Incredibles belong in the Incredibles area, but beyond that, there's plenty of space elsewhere for them all. Put the Monsters in front of Monsters Inc, and Dug and Russell at the Challenge Trail - there's plenty of room! Pixar Play Parade is underwhelming, and the food and merchandise tepid. We loved meeting the characters, and Paint the Night was neat with the new Incredibles float, but outside of that, it amounts to pure marketing - poorly executed at that.

My review of the brand new Pixar Pier will be up on the blog in the next few days, so look out for that!

Have a great day everyone,

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