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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

Trip Report: Pixar Fest at the Disneyland Resort

All photos on this page are © Loren R. Javier. Do not duplicate, modify or distribute without prior consent.

The Disneyland Resort opened Pixar Fest on (of all dates!) Friday, April 13. Disney seems to be in a big push for Pixar these days and Pixar Fest is part of this celebration that will include this year's openings of Toy Story Lands at Walt Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland, Pixar Pier at the Disneyland Resort and the Pixar Film The Incredibles 2.

So, let's get started.

The Esplanade and the Main Gates of each park were dressed for Pixar Fest.

I know some people have taken umbrage to the decor above the Disneyland gates. Much of this has to do with the idea that Disneyland should not have Pixar in it at all and the limited amount of Pixar right there now is annoying to them. Personally, I don't have a problem with it and I thought the decor looked cute. They even looked better at night.

Anybody who knows me knows I am a big Disney character fan. It makes me happy to see the characters in the park and to interact with them. So, when I got to the park, I made a beeline for the special "Pixar Pals" meet area at Paradise Gardens only to have my dreams crushed. Despite having had two days for media to experience Pixar Fest, they had the area closed off to the media until 2 pm. It irritated me because if you are going to make a big deal about a certain date being opening day that EVERYTHING should be open to the public when they have it scheduled. It actually wouldn't be such a big deal to me, but I had a very limited time to experience everything and a 2 pm opening might mean that I might not be able to find a space for the first performance of the Pixar Play Parade.

Anyway, I got over it and moved on to Cars Land where they had a few pieces of decor. First, at the Cars Land sign were incredibly adorable statues of Buzz Lightyear and Woody as cars. I love that Cars Land has these statues out for different seasons, but I have to say that these might be my favorite (along with the Dia de los Muertos car which some people called Carlos).

Cars Land also had some great Pixar themed movie posters done as cars. Again, they added posters like this for Halloween and the holiday season and they are always entertaining to look at.

After leaving Cars Land, I headed over to the Blue Sky Cellar where they are having a preview for Pixar Pier. Most of the stuff they had in there is stuff we've already seen through social media, but, nonetheless, it is fun to see it up close, especially the model (which sadly was missing the Inside Out neighborhood they're promising us!).

From there, I headed over to the Sunset Showcase Theater in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot where they were having a "Pixar Shorts Film Festival." 

In the lobby area, they had a bunch of maquettes of characters from the several of the Pixar shorts and I wanted to steal all of them...especially the one from Lava! LOL! At the "film festival," they showed "For The Birds," "Piper" and "Lava."

I've always loved the Pixar shorts and thought the viewing would be pleasant, but it was a joy to watch them on the big screen again. I was smiling from ear to ear when I left and forgot how irritated I was earlier. I hope, though, during the course of Pixar Fest, that they switch up the shorts. It would be fun to see other shorts as they were intended to be watched again.

After the "Pixar Shorts Film Festival," I headed back over to Paradise Gardens to have some lunch which I forgot to take a picture of. But, I did take a picture of the Pixar cake I had which was cute and colorful and delicious.

Then, I went to check out Kick Knacks, which is the new Pixar themed store where Treasures in Paradise (the gift store across the way from the former Ariel's  Grotto) used to be. The store is BEAUTIFUL! I love the way they have Pixar storyboard art surrounding the store! And there were sections devoted to merchandise from the different Pixar films.

The Pixar Fest merchanise, I have to say, was adorable. Its some of my favorite merchandise that Disney has come up with for awhile. It almost looked like what you would get in Tokyo. I wish I had actually taken closer pictures of the merchandise because they had lots of cute items featuring the stylized designs they've gone with in the marketing. Only if they had those bag clip plushes they have in Tokyo!

 My favorite things were the different Pixar ears. I bought Russell & Dug and Joy & Sadness ears. I couldn't choose between the two. it would be like choosing between two children.

I heard that most of the ears sold out aside from Buzz and Woody, so I'm glad I got them when I did. Although, it always puzzles me when Disney runs out of things on the first day. They have to know people are going to go crazy for merchandise in the early days. They should have been prepared.

Also sold out was the Mike Wazowski sipper cup that goes with the Sulley popcorn bucket. This was a genius idea as they connect. And, they are adorable. I managed to get the Sulley, but was sad to not get Mike Wazowski. Hopefully, they will have more the next time I visit.

Then, I decided to see if I could meet at least one character before heading over to the Pixar Play Parade. I was able to meet Russell and Dug! Since Russell is one of my spirit characters, I always love to see him! So, I was happy they were the first for me to meet at Pixar Fest. And the backdrop that they had in the gazebo was so cute.

After meeting him, I headed over to the Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland. Now, this was a controversial move when they decided to move Pixar Play Parade to Disneyland and Paint The Night to Disney California Adventure. Let's face it. Pixar Play Parade is old. When Disney California Adventure was reimagined, it felt like a relic of old DCA. It was enjoyable when it first started, but after 10 years, it was time for it to go.

Basically, what they did was add a few "units." The first was some dancers playing with the Pixar Ball followed by Luxo, Jr., which I think was a great way to open a Pixar parade of any ilk.

The second was Inside Out! It featured Joy and Sadness on Bing Bong's Rocket Wagon atop a mound of memory orbs. In the back, Bing Bong (a statue) is waving. Why, oh why, isn't Bing Bong an actual character?!? Regardless to say, as Sadness is my other spirit character, I was weeping with joy the entire time.

The third was Up. It features one of the greatest things ever! KEVIN with Russell riding on his back. Normally, I'd be upset that they made a character that is already meetable into a statue, but seeing Kevin run around is amazing. It almost feels like they're real!

Following Kevin and Russell is a float featuring Carl Fredricksen on top. And, in the back on the bottom is Dug. It's very cute!

The rest of the parade is pretty much the same. With the same irritating song. They were playing Pixar music out in the Esplanade and thinking that there is so much wonderful Pixar score pieces. Why not write a new song that weaves these score pieces together? Even that would improve the experience if they wanted to use the same floats and performer costumes. I will credit them for at least cleaning off the floats. At my last viewing of it over at Disney California Adventure, I could see the dirt caked on them.

Despite how I feel about Pixar Play Parade, I ended up watching it twice because I did absolutely love the Inside Out and Up units. I just wish they would have built them bigger floats. And, I'm glad I did watch it twice then because, on Sunday, the entire Up unit was removed. I'm not sure why. Probably technical issues. But, I was surrounded by many sad people when they realized Up wasn't in it.  How I wish I could have gotten video! I did my filming on Saturday and that's when they were taken out of the parade.

In the evening, I attended Paint The Night over at Disney California Adventure. I know I've always loved Paint The Night, but I forgot how beautiful it does look. Maybe its because the last nighttime parade I saw was the Main Street Electrical Parade. It is my favorite parade of all time because its the first one I watched, but it is a little lackluster up against Paint The Night. The LED light system of Paint The Night is just vibrant and beautiful. It was a great way to end my day.

The next day I devoted to character meets over at the "Pixar Pals" area at Paradise Gardens.

The first set I met was Woody. He usually meet with Buzz Lightyear, but I missed Buzz by a minute. Bummer, but it was nice to start the day with the OG. LOL

Next, I got to meet Russell and Dug again. I can't get enough of them.

And, finally, I met Sulley and Mike Wazowksi. Sulley might always out, but Mike is not. So, it is a treat to see him. And it is always amazing to get the two of them together.

By that time, I had cycled through all the characters. Although, Jessie would roam Paradise Gardens every so often.

Speaking of characters, I noticed every time I passed by, people were lined up to take pictures with the Coco statues. What a shame they weren't actually characters you could meet. Its the first movie featuring a Latino cast in a park in a state with a giant Latino population. I'm just saying... #MissedOpportunity

I also learned later that Flik & Atta were meeting at "A Bug's Land" where they are also having Blueberry Scout Jamboree. I was bummed because I meant to go over there, but completely forgot.

Anyway, after meeting the characters, I went to watch the "Pixar Pals" band at the bandstand. I really enjoyed them. They are so fun and it really reminded me of how the Disneyland Resort does have some of the best musical entertainment anywhere. I hope they are going to be a regular at Pixar Pier.

I had dinner over at Carnation Plaza to have the Fried Bologna Sandwich was an Up inspired menu item. I have to admit that it was way more delicious than I thought it was going to be. It was tasty and spicy and meaty. PS - It normally comes with fries, but I asked for fruit.

I also headed over to the Candy Palace to get the Grape Soda pin badge cake pop. I really just wanted a picture with it, but I tried it and have to say it was not my favorite thing.

I then camped out in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle for the "Together, Forever" fireworks.

I thought getting there 4 1/2 hours early would have been good enough for me to go and find a space where I would not be blocked as I use a mobility scooter. But, the front already had a row of people waiting. I parked behind a woman who had her baby carriage there, thinking I'd be able to see over the baby carriage. So, imagine my sadness when she moved the carriage and stood in front of me. I tried to stand, but my knees started to buckle after the first number. And, I couldn't see much except for the fireworks itself. But the point was to see the projections as well as the Up house and Buzz Lightyear over the Castle. I'm going to write another blog about the challenges of being disabled at Disneyland and watching fireworks because I was really upset by not being able to see and without guest relations to come up with a suitable solution. I can understand if I showed up an hour or two before, but I waited 4 1/2 hours and risked a urinary tract infection.

I did get to film a couple of numbers.

I'll have to figure out another plan for next time because I can't say I enjoyed the fireworks based on my experience that evening.

It was a bummer to end my visit to Pixar Fest in the same kind of frustration I started the weekend with characters. That said, overall, I enjoyed Pixar Fest and I can get a sense of how fun Pixar Pier will be. My issues were personal ones and should not influence your decision to visit Pixar Fest. As always, everybody should experience and judge things for themselves. Plus, the fireworks issue doesn't have to do specifically with "Together, Forever," but with access to watching fireworks from whatever vantage point I want to.

The only other thing I would add is that I wish it didn't disjointed. You had some of Pixar Fest here and there, but no real central place for Pixar Fest. I actually wish they would have just picked a park and came up with a special map that had all the Pixar Fest related activities. But, other than that, I do think they did a solid job.

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