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4/27/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including my first impressions of Pixar Fest
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4/27/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including my first impressions of Pixar Fest

I had not been to Disneyland for three weeks due to my trip to Shanghai and Tokyo making this my first trip to experience Pixar Fest and see the new additions, plus see the ongoing changes and projects around the parks and Downtown Disney, so I had a busy day which resulted in a large full picture set. The weather was great, topping out in the low 70s and dropping to the low 60s. The crowds on the other hand were much heavier than I would have thought for a Friday in April, especially early in the day. Once the sun set it was very busy, as usual, but I was expecting it to be moderate for the first few hours and it was not.

Before going into my Disneyland thoughts just wanted to say that I have started posting my thoughts/observations and full pictures sets from the Asia trip. The first couple from Shanghai are up with a lot more to come as time allows. I really enjoyed visiting Shanghai for the first time and then being able to be in Tokyo to see the kick off of the 35th anniversary celebration. Here are links to all my posts so far. Included in the first full set is a look at the new Toy Story Land in Shanghai as well as several attractions, shows and Disneytown.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Arriving at the Disneyland Resort once again proved to be slow going. The overpass was closed already so that meant sitting through two long lights to cross Ball Road. The structure was open and no waits at the tollbooths so that was great. But then traffic once again backed up down the ramp and it was a slow crawl from the start of the incline all the way into a space. This seems to be a regular occurrence now with getting into a spot a slow process.

  • First stop as is the routine was to check in on the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge project. A new forest has been planted on top of the concrete tunnel forming a berm as you look toward Critter Country, reducing the view even further of the work. The only progress you can see now are rock formations taking shape across the project and the top of a building or two. Soon those rocks will have a first layer of concrete and the views from the parking structure will not show much progress anymore.

  • On the other side of the structure though things are just getting started with the new parking structure that is slated to open next year. They look to be in the final stages of clearing and grading the site. Survey markers are appearing on the far portion so construction of the new garage and tram stop should start soon. It will be interesting to see how this garage is built. To finish for next year once it gets going we should see visible process on a regular basis.

  • The temporary tram stop has received some colorful banners to brighten it up a bit. Also an informational set to showcase the new garage that is being built and explain the situation. I thought these were positive additions.

  • Pixar Fest is the summer promotion that runs until September at both parks. At Disneyland it boils down to some decorations on Main Street, a Pizza Planet Overlay, the Pixar Play Parade and Together Forever fireworks. Also many of the performing groups have added You've Got a Friend in Me to their sets if they did not already have it. I thought the Main Street decorations were subtle and worked ok. Being a traditionalist I would prefer the summer red, white, and blue but the Pixar buntings worked ok. It was not over the top which I thought was good. On the whole I thought Pizza Fest was a little thin. I think it would have worked better to have focused the attention on Disney California Adventure and add more there. Having some key componets at Disneyland and then the rest at DCA seemed really spread out without much depth in either park.

  • Pizza Planet has taken over the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. After seeing the sign at the entrance I was unsure what to expect inside. The sign looks rather temporary and rushed. Inside the food area has no real changes, but the dining area features a new set of planets and posters throughout. I thought this was a fun overlay, especially some of the posters and the planets. When I stopped by in the early afternoon it was very busy. The menu seemed about the same, just a couple new items.

  • The Pixar Play Parade has moved across the Esplanade to Disneyland. I thought the parade had run its course at Disney California Adventure so extending its life at Disneyland was not ideal for me. Three new units were added to showcase some additional films but a bulk of the parade is the same. The parade now opens with the Pixar Lamp which ok, the unit moves around a fair amount and has animation. Found it odd it says Pixar Fest and not Play Parade but I guess its almost like a pre-element.. saying its Pixar Fest then the drum says Play Parade. There is a new unit for Inside Out! which features a recreation of the wagon from the film. I thought this looked ok, but I preferred the pre-parade unit that ran when the movie was released. I thought that pre-parade unit with all the emotions and a lot of dialog was more entertaining (it most likely would not have worked in the parade but I enjoyed it more). There is also an Up! unit, which looked ok, always great to see additions. The parade did loose the Cars characters from the end. I would have liked to have seen some other tweaks.. too bad a more engaging float like the Ratatouille one that was pulled years ago could not have been added.

  • I noticed in the times guide they were listing the guest performing groups that would march before the parades too. I thought this was nice and makes for a great souvenir for those groups and their families.

  • Together Forever A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular is the new nightly fireworks/multimedia show. Like many of the recent shows Main Street is the place to be to see all the elements. This means the street fills up early and extremely crowded. Friday an hour before most of the hub and street were full. I found a spot earlier than I had planned because it was filling up and hard to move around the park to get back. By show time the crowd on Main Street was pretty thick, but after experiencing Shanghai this was nothing. I was able to move around a little and see pavement around me. Plus I was not being pushed around. All of which could not be said in Shanghai. So it was busy and crowded but after that experience it was mild.

  • For a first viewing Together Forever had several nice moments and cool elements but as a total package it fell short of previous nighttime shows for me. As I drove home I kept trying to put my finger on what I did not like and the more I thought about it the further I seemed to move from a conclusion. The show just did not resonate with me. I enjoyed all the films highlighted and music used so it seems odd I would not have a favorable first impression of the show. The flow of the show seemed awkward to me as it moved from film to film and a couple times I found it to be noisy with so much going on it became a jumble. This may be because it was a first viewing and I was trying to understand it, shoot pics and think about some video. I thought the pyro/fireworks used for the finale sequence were well done but the mix of You've Got a Friend In Me just did not seem like a strong finale song. The Coco segment was well done and a hit with the crowd on Main Street as were the appearances of Buzz Lightyear and the Up! Balloon. I look forward to seeing the show again and giving it a second go. I thought having Barbie give some direction during the exit sequence was a fun way to conclude the show.

  • Dumbo The Flying Elephant reopened on Friday after a several month renovation that included relocating and covering the queue. I thought the new layout looked great and was a much more efficient use of the space. I am sure those waiting in that slow moving line will really appreciate the changes as the weather heats up. They are still putting the finishing touches on the project but overall it seems a positive from the Fantasyland side. I did not have a chance to see it first hand but saw a picture from the Storybook side and that does not look that stellar. It is a series of circus tents and basically a solid fence. Where as before it was a set of hedges. Will be interesting to see if it evolves.

  • The other much needed queue project is wrapping up too, the it's a small world queue and parade route re-configuration. Just some details left there too, such as parade lights or facade around the gate. The queue itself is open and was being used on Friday. It is great to see the queue confined to that side of the parade route and as the trees grow the shade will be welcomed by those waiting.

  • Pixar Fest is also taking place at Disney California Adventure. Buena Vista Street received the same bunting as Main Street USA. To me it seemed a little too colorful and did not work as well here as across the Esplanade, but I am not a designer so just my first impression.

  • Paradise Gardens is the center for Pixar Fest. There is a character meet and greet, movie poster photo ops, live performances and an AP corner plus a special menu at the Garden Grill. I really enjoyed the Pixarmonic Orchestra. The talented group of musicians plays several songs from Pixar films. The dialog was occasionally funny/entertaining but not sure how it will wear on repeat viewing. But the music makes it on my list to experience again. The Meet and Greet is standard fair and the other Photo ops too. The AP Corner was literally in the corner of the park and minimal this time around. No buttons, instead you get stickers. No character for photos, just a wall to stand in front of. The charging area consisted of one table, so it could not handle any volume.

  • For Pixar Fest Cars Land features the opportunity to get your picture with two stars from the Toy Car Story. There are also new movie posters for the Drive In. I did not see anything else.

  • A Bug's Land was hosting the Blueberry Jamboree. This turned out to be a kids activity area with coloring, headgear and face painting. It was uncrowded when I walked through and the kids there seemed to be enjoying themselves.

  • The Hollywood Backlot is hosting Pixar Short Films in the Sunset Showcase Theater. The lobby has some models and concept art from several of the shorts. The display is well done and interesting, but a bit of a challenge to see since guests like to queue up there to be in the front of the theater. I skipped the shorts due to time on Friday but look forward to seeing them on the big screen again on future visits.

  • The Blue Sky Cellar features a preview of Pixar Pier but unfortunately it was closed by the time I arrived, just before 7pm. An early closing was not listed in the times guide. I did not think to check the App. No signs were posted when I walked by either.

  • The Pixar Pier construction is racing to the finish with less than 2 months until opening of the first phase. Scaffolding is coming down on the Incredicoaster and the station is moving along. The new color scheme for Midway Mania is visible. As you enter the area Knick's Knacks has opened, this is the gift shop replacing Treasures in Paradise. The facade is still being worked on but the interior is done. The store has a very different feel than the previous one. This one feels much more open and plain. The old one had a lot of props and wood. Knick's has an open design and features concept art ringing the ceiling. I enjoyed looking at the drawings. The store also features a wide array of Pixar and Pixar Fest merchandise. I would assume the next wave will be Pixar Pier merchandise. I found the name awkward to type/tweet.

  • Downtown Disney continues to change. The big change since my last visit is the Disney Dress Shop has opened in a new location, the former Boutique near the hotel entrance. The planters now feature Pixar inspired elements. These additions I thought were a fun idea. They are a little too abstract for my liking but I like the direction and tieing the area into the park promotions in a clever way.This past week Disney announced/confirmed that Salt & Straw Ice Cream Co is coming and will be taking the Häagen-Dazs space. Previously announced that ESPN, AMC, Rain Forest, Earl of Sandwhich, and Starbucks will be closing by the end of June so construction of the new hotel can start soon after.

  • After the fireworks I joined the masses exiting the park. The tram stops were really backed up. As I waded through the crowd I realized they were just opening the second stop on the park side and only had on stop open on the Downtown Disney side. I was lucky enough to get through the crowd and onto the first tram of the newly opened stop so it was a minimal wait, but the first stops were backed up 2-3 trams at least. I was also happy to find the exit traffic pattern back to how it used to be where you had the choice to use the overpass or not from all levels.

Here are some recent posts to the Geek's Blog:

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap March 14-31, 2018

Disney Related Press Releases

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

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