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Disneyland Updates: Paradise Pier Hotel Retheme & Downtown Disney Renovations

Over the last few days, there has been some news dropped about the future of a Disneyland Resort hotel and the Downtown Disney District. As we were busy preparing our 1,000th post, Disney clearly needed to get some news out. Please excuse the delayed reaction! In this post, we’ll cover the latest news and add in our commentary on the matter.

Paradise Pier Hotel Transformation

We’ll start with news on Disneyland Resort’s cheapest on-site hotel getting a retheme. Via the Disney Parks Blog:

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will soon begin a transformation, with an all-new theme! The reimagining of the hotel will weave the artistry of Pixar into its comfortable, contemporary setting. Guests will gain a new perspective on some of their favorite Pixar worlds and characters through carefully curated artwork, and décor that reveals the creative journey of the artists who helped bring these stories to life.

Guests will be welcomed into whimsical character moments, like the iconic, playful Pixar Lamp balancing atop its ball in the lobby. Along with the transformation, a walkway is currently under construction which will soon give Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel guests a convenient entrance to Disney California Adventure park.

All-New Theme Coming to Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

I don’t like Paradise Pier Hotel much, if at all, so this is good news in my book. I’m particularly excited about the special entrance into the park. Unfortunately, I don’t see this moving the needle on the hotel’s price point, which is far too high for fairly generic rooms.

If you don’t know, Paradise Pier Hotel was bought by Disney from a third party and given a slight makeover. Since then, it has coasted by offering $300/night rooms without anything that sets it apart. Some of the hotels on Harbor Boulevard are closer and nearly a third of the cost. Reimagining the theme is a good step, along with the new entrance, in remedying that situation.

Truth be told, I don’t have extremely high hopes for the transformation but that’s not based on anything in particular. The press release and concept art give me Art of Animation vibes, except with a modern twist. I’m not sure the modern design helps the theme here, as I’d rather Disney’s value resorts just go over the top in whatever theme they choose. My fear is that the modern aesthetic is just an excuse to not fully dive into the project.

Grand Californian lobby

That’s my rain cloud over an otherwise sunny topic. Paradise Pier Hotel is below average and Disney is setting out to fix it. If nothing else, that’s encouraging and should make the resort better. With the transformation, a name change is likely since Paradise Pier doesn’t actually exist anymore. I’m hoping the rooms will be updated with more theming. Time will tell on this one but it’s a step in the right direction, hopefully closing the gap between this hotel and Disneyland Resort’s other two iconic hotels.

Downtown Disney News

Here’s the news on Downtown Disney:

While the evolution of Downtown Disney began in 2018, work recently began on the latest transformation to introduce more innovative shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. Drawing inspiration from Southern California mid-century modern architecture, the west-end area will be a blend of vibrant color palettes, design elements and patterns influenced by the region, and will include an open lawn for relaxation and future events, and an even broader and diverse collection of dining and shopping.

Din Tai Fung Coming to the Downtown Disney District

The world-renowned restaurant Din Tai Fung will join the district to offer guests their soup dumplings hand crafted right on site! This family-run restaurant will bring flavorful Chinese cuisine to Downtown Disney, where guests can enjoy dishes served family style in a creative space near our new lawn pavilion.

Michelin-starred Chef Carlos Gaytan will bring his inclusive vision of Mexican cuisine to Paseo and Centrico in the locations currently occupied by Catal & Uva Bar, brought to life by Patina Restaurant Group. The restaurant and central courtyard bar and dining area will offer guests a multi-sensory journey to the heart of Chef Gaytan’s homeland.

Evolution of Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at the Downtown Disney District

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen will also have an evolution that incorporates vibrant California energy and a fresh approach to the menu, while staying true to the heart of New Orleans for this guest-favorite location.

Even more exciting news – fan favorite Earl of Sandwich will also pop into the district in a special sandwich walk-up location, offering guests the classics they know and love for a limited time beginning later this year.

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen outside DTD DL

There’s quite a bit to take in here. I’ll start with a caveat. I think of myself as a fairly nuanced person and don’t see many things in black and white. I try to carry that over in my critique of Disney Parks. With that out of the way… Downtown Disney sucks. There are a few interesting stores and one or two decent restaurants. It’s not an enjoyable place to sit or even walk around in. I can think of 5 outdoor malls within 20 miles of Disneyland that I’d rather go to. At this point, I think any change to it will likely be for the better.

You know what doesn’t suck? Din Tai Fung. It’s delicious and immediately will become one of the best restaurants in Downtown Disney. I’m also looking forward to Paseo and Centrico making their way over, as more fresh blood is a good thing for the area. I happen to love Mexican food so I’m not upset about that either.

There are quibbles to make, as the concept art doesn’t look to be anything exciting from a design standpoint. The changes to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen look like a frustrating compromise to uninteresting architecture. But I’m hoping the actual design is better and am happy that the restaurant won’t be leaving the area, as it’s the best one currently in Downtown Disney.

I’ve been a big proponent of adding some grassy areas to both Downtown Disney and Toontown, and am happy that’s the way things are headed. This should lead to a more inviting place to hang out with friends in the night after or before a day in the parks. All of this should make Downtown Disney significantly better than it is right now, both in terms of aesthetics and content!

Home Store DTD DL

What do you think of these Disneyland Resort changes? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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