Earlier today, Disney released some new concept art and news about California Adventure’s Pixar Pier. This land will be taking the place of Paradise Pier. Here is a link to our initial post about the news and here is today’s release from Disney. Before we get to my thoughts on what was announced today, let’s break down what was announced.
First of all, the release stated that this land will be permanent. When first announced there seemed to be some confusion on this being a limited time offering or a permanent land. Today’s news leaves no doubt that this is permanent.
The other bit of news that wasn’t attraction based is that there will be four different ‘neighborhoods’ that are apart of this pier. Why a pier has neighborhoods is beyond me but that’s how Disney termed it. Maybe they don’t know what a pier is? Maybe I don’t know what a pier is?
The first of these neighborhoods will be themed to The Incredibles. Seemingly, this just means that California Screamin’ will be no more. The roller coaster will now be themed to the Incredibles. This overhaul will include a new look for the ride vehicles, character moments and a different loading zone. Instead of California Screamin’ this will now be Incredicoaster. California Screamin’ will be closing on January 8th.
Toy Story Mania and the corresponding area seems to remain largely the same and is the second neighborhood. I don’t know if King Triton’s carousel will be rethemed to The Incredibles or Toy Story Mania.
The next neighborhood will be themed to Inside Out and will include a new attraction, although it sounds like this will be no more than a spinner attraction (like Dumbo). This attraction will be open later than the rest of the rethemed land which makes me hold out a little hope that it will be something more.
The fourth neighborhood will be a mishmash of Pixar IP’s. Mickey’s Fun Wheel will be rethemed although Mickey will still be on it (huh?). All of the Midway Games will now have a Pixar feel to them.
On top of all of this, Ariel’s Grotto and Cove Bar will be turned into a different “lounge and grill”. Everything that I haven’t mentioned, including Paradise Gardens, Silly Symphony Swings, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Goofy’s Sky School, Golden Zephyr and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, will be called Paradise Park and will remain unchanged because… I don’t know why. They ran out of money?
I tried to make the above just news although I slipped a few comments in that revealed my true feelings. But, I’ll put it more bluntly than my passive-aggressive nature… This is not a good idea.
Let’s go item by item, starting with the biggie. Incredicoaster replacing California Screamin’ seems like something an Imagineer came up with for April Fool’s Day last year. Bob Iger found those joke files in a garbage somewhere and dusted this off thinking “Wow, what a great idea!” I’m not even the biggest California Screamin’ fan but why change a beloved attraction minimally. It’s like they saw the success of the retheming of Tower of Terror and tried to figure out where else to do this. The problem is changing a story on a roller coaster is very hard, mostly because roller coasters don’t typically have stories or plots. I’d guess this ends up similar to Universal Orlando’s Incredible Hulk Coaster, but only in the story elements. The track will remain the same, so I don’t see the point.
A carousel retheming isn’t going to matter one way or another, and seems like a waste of money to me.
I love Inside Out but would much rather see the IP get a full-blown attraction instead of a short spinning ride and a little area on the pier. A retheming of Mickey’s Fun Wheel brings up similar emotions. I just don’t understand why they think this is a good place to invest. Changing the inside of some ride vehicles on a ferris wheel is so arbitrary. And why is Mickey still on the face of the Fun Wheel if this is Pixar Pier? As much as some people wouldn’t like to admit it, Mickey Mouse isn’t a part of Pixar.
Last of all, Cove Bar is one of California Adventure’s hidden gems. This is the most mature place in the park and a nice break from the hustle and bustle. Who knows, the area may still remain a nice respite with great nachos but I’m not all that hopeful.
What annoys me the most is that Pixar Pier doesn’t fit the park’s identity. California Adventure is an idealized and/or dramatized version of adventures you could have in California (+10 for practical name). This park worked very hard to fit that theme over the last decade. Even the areas that weren’t necessarily California, like A Bug’s Land and Cars Land, had a nice flow and fit the park’s identity well. Now, that idea behind the park seems to be taking a backseat to half-baked ideas.
It’s not that Pixar isn’t worthy of whole lands. They absolutely are, as we’ve seen Cars Land become a massive hit. In fact, I don’t think this land is going to be able to pay full tribute to Pixar. I’d much rather see a land built from scratch, or at least torn down with a fresh start, then a bunch of attractions being rethemed. I liken this to Dragon Challenge and Universal Studios Florida. Universal decided to create Hogsmeade (Harry Potter) and left a roller coaster within the land. They did a slight retheme to the coaster but no one could deny that it was an eyesore to an otherwise brilliant place. A month ago Dragon Challenge closed down because it didn’t belong there. While I don’t expect any of these changes to be an eye sore, I hardly ever think permanent retheming of an attraction is the answer.
While I’m obviously not a fan of this idea, it does lead me to speculate on the California Adventure’s future. It’s no secret that superheroes are making their way into DCA, starting last summer with the Guardians of the Galaxy. An expanded superhero presence is on the way but the question is where will they go. Pixar Pier leads me to believe that new superhero attractions will take over Bug’s Land. This is because it seems like Disney is trying to move some appealing kid-friendly attractions to the pier. Those attractions are what A Bug’s Land is known for. I could obviously be way off there but with the land lying adjacent to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout this makes some logical sense. This could also help explain why this direction was taken in the first place.
The idea also seems somewhat reactionary. By my count, every other Disney Resort across the world has or will have a Toy Story Land in the near future. Disneyland was the lone holdout, mind you they do have Cars Land while no one else does. Maybe executives didn’t want California not to have a heavy Pixar theme as everywhere else has one. This is just me spitballing, as this idea doesn’t make much sense.
All in all, I’m worried that California Adventure is losing it’s identity as fast as it found it. While Paradise Pier is no Imagineering marvel, it did work within the park’s California premise. Doing a half-baked retheming of the area seems like a break in cohesiveness for a park that was on the up and up. Time will tell but count me as pessimistic on this one.
What are your thoughts on the latest Pixar Pier news? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoy what you’re reading on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page. You can find both of those on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!