ANAHEIM, Calif. — Disneyland Resort's Disney California Adventure theme park is getting yet another refresh, this time in the form of the transformation of Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier, a land that will celebrate popular Pixar properties such as "The Incredibles" and "Toy Story.
"The great thing about Pixar, we've just been hitting home runs almost every year with new stories. It just becomes this embarrassment of riches," Jeff Shaver-Moskowitz, a producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, told a group of reporters earlier this month at a briefing about the forthcoming Pixar Pier.
Shaver-Moskowitz added that the Disney California Adventure pier and boardwalk represented the opportunity to showcase Pixar properties that hadn't yet found a home elsewhere in the Disneyland parks.
When Pixar Pier opens at Disney California Adventure this summer, one of the main new attractions will be the Incredicoaster, a transformation of the former California Screamin' rollercoaster into a ride inspired by "The Incredibles" movie. It opens just in time for the June 14 release of "Incredibles 2."
Pixar Pier will feature four neighborhoods inspired by Pixar movies. In addition to the Incredibles neighborhood, there will be a Toy Story neighborhood that will include a themed carousel. A neighborhood inspired by the film "Inside Out" will feature a family-friendly attraction that is scheduled to open at a later date. A fourth neighborhood will highlight characters from a variety of Pixar stories. For example, on the Ferris wheel called Mickey's Fun Wheel, each of the 24 gondolas will showcase a different Pixar character (the face of Mickey Mouse will remain on the wheel). Additionally, Ariel's Grotto restaurant and the Cove Bar will be transformed into a Pixar-themed lounge.
The remaining areas of the original Paradise Pier — including Paradise Gardens, Silly Symphony Swings, Jumping Jellyfish, Goofy's Sky School, Golden Zephyr and The Little Mermaid-Ariel's Undersea Adventure — will remain and become part of a new land called Paradise Park.
The most recent major investment at the park was in 2012 with the opening of the 12-acre Cars Land, which had a $1 billion price tag. Additionally, last year, the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride reopened as Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: Breakout!, the first major Disney attraction based on Marvel characters.
"From the beginning, Disney California Adventure struggled to find an audience. Literally from day one, attendance there was never what Disney expected," said Elyssa Antonelle, an authorized Disney vacation planner and owner of MickeyTravels.
Antonelle noted that the Disney California Adventure park, which opened in 2001, has historically had an odd theme — "a California celebration hosted at a California theme park." Now, she said, Disney is leaning on its acquired intellectual properties, such as Pixar and Marvel, to give the park a reboot.
"Clearly, they saw what Harry Potter did for Universal Studios and felt more confident that quality [intellectual property] is what people want," Antonelle said. "Since Pixar is probably the most reliable brand in film today, it makes sense to alter the theme of a struggling park to one with a trusted name like Pixar."
In advance of Pixar Pier's opening this summer (a precise date has not yet been provided), a celebration of all things Pixar will kick off April 13 with Pixar Fest, a limited-time event that will include a new fireworks show and themed parades.
Pixar themes will also be integrated into food and beverage items, merchandising and live performances.
An end date to Pixar Fest has not yet been provided.