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6/29/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of Pixar Pier
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6/29/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of Pixar Pier
I spent a relaxing afternoon and evening at the Disneyland Resort taking a look at some of the new offerings and visiting with friends. The parks felt busy but not crowded, if that makes sense. Wait times were on the moderate side for summer. The Pixar Pier waits were not as bad as I would have expected for a second weeek offering. The Incredicoaster for example had a 45 minute wait and FastPass return times only a couple hours out when I arrived. It did climb as the day went on. The Pixar Pal-A-Round was between 45-60 minutes the couple times I looked.


Trip Updates: This past week I finished posting pictures sets from my Tokyo trip back in April. So now all full picture sets, videos, thoughts and observations from Tokyo & Shanghai are posted. I am finally caught up having wrapped up Walt Disney World the week before.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Started my trip off taking a look at the construction projects from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. The new parking garage is starting to rise up with quiet a few support columns now done and some supports for a second story starting to be assembled. Across Disneyland Drive the Star Wars project continues to progress with some minor signs of rock work and other detail progress visible only. A couple more stories of scaffolding have been removed from several peaks so we are starting to get views of the final color and texture of the formations.

  • Took a quick walk through the Blue Sky Cellar to see if any updates or changes had occurred since Pixar Pier opened. Maybe some more concept art for the upcoming parts, but nope. It was the same display as before. Guess it will be this way until the Marvel projects are announced and take over. Happy to see the cellar has remained open vs shuttering again.

  • The Radiator Springs Racers FastPass distribution has been relocated. Tickets are now distributed using mobile carts in the small park area next to Ramones across from Flos. This was used as an overflow queue at one point. The carts are rolled backstage after distribution ends. The former location in Bugs Land is being cleared as part of a new Marvel project. Construction should be starting in the coming weeks.

  • Today was my first visit to Pixar Pier. Last week it was only open to invited guests on Friday. It officially opened on Saturday. I spent the first part of my visit walking around and taking some pictures of the new areas. I had a mixed first impression. Some elements were nice, some were a bit odd and some are just not finished yet. The area had a good crowd with a lot of guests moving around. Overall it felt rather tight/cramped to me. They added several planters, trees, sitting area, show elements which make the walkways feel smaller vs the wide open expanse it used to be. It looks better in that respect but it makes it feel even more crowded. The neighborhood concept that was being described is there but not really that distinguishable. You get a sense of a grouping and it is slightly re-enforced with trash cans.. but it is not that noticeable. The Inside Out area is rather large for a hot dog stand, gift shop and soon to be spinner, none of which are necessarily close to each other because of the coaster and wheel so it does not really convey a neighborhood. Overall the changes come off feeling almost like a seasonal/festival overlay than a permanent change to the area. It is still a work in progress with several signs and other aspect not complete yet so maybe this will change with time. I am curious if a sign is going to be added to the far side near Paradise Gardens. There is an elaborate sign/entrance on one side and nothing on the other.. unless you count the parade gate sign which is really off to the side and in my mind should be part of the Paradise Gardens Park area not Pixar Pier since it is outside the coaster track.

    • Attractions -
      • Incredicoaster - The launch sequence water effect is a nice plus. Moving the FastPass machines opens up some extra queue space which is nice. The queue itself and launch building look ok. I would have liked to have seen a little more added to block out more of the backstage and outside buildings. This would have been a nice opportunity to do that. I did not experience the attraction. I did find it interesting the on ride photos are still available but online only, the kiosk and cast members that helped are gone. The system is still done by entering a number into the app though. Would have been nice to have gone to a scan system.
      • Pixar Pal-A-Round - The Ferris wheel is the same as it has always been, just a new color scheme, queue cover and queue announcements. I am not a fan of the new name. It is awkward to type and say. I thought it should have just been called the Fun Wheel.. drop the Mickey from the name. Then it would work with the Mickey face and Pixar characters. I skipped ridding since a 45-60 minute wait did not patience this visit.
      • Games of Pixar - The four midway games now feature Pixar characters and themes. Most noteworthy they feature Pixar prizes that seemed very popular with guests. Overall the prizes make the experience much better vs the generic ones that have been there in the past.
      • Toy Story Midway Mania - The queue has been tweaked slightly and the color scheme changed but nothing else. I thought Disney missed an opportunity here to swap some of the games. With both WDW and Disneyland introducing new areas around the attraction timing seemed perfect.
    • Dining
      • Lamplight Lounge - This seems to be the hit of the remodel. The line was constant, not quite what the Cove Bar line was but still long considering the expanded seating. I did not eat there or venture inside but from the pictures and video it looks great. The only negative I have seen is the pricing is on the high side.
      • Jack Jack Cookie Num Nums was a little disappointing that it is just a couple of carts. I was expecting it to be a kiosk in the old location. It had a very temporary feel to it and was kind of awkward looking to me. It had a solid wait.
      • Angry Dogs - A minimal overlay to the hot dog stand featuring Anger from Inside Out. The odd part is how far from the other Inside Out things it is. It is sort of isolated where it is. There always seemed to be a couple guests in line which was more than I used to see at the old hot dog stand.
      • Poultry Palace - This building seemed very out of place. It almost becomes a focal point and it does not match any of the other elements of the Pier. Also it seems incomplete still with some signage missing. I found it odd there are several references to the apple juice drink box but they do not sell apple juice! Guests seemed to be enjoying the boxes the food came in more than the food itself. The lack of seating space seemed to be an issue with guests sitting on the ground using anything they could as tables, such as the FastPass machines, Zurg figure, etc.. There is a small Zurg figure next to the stand but with no seating in the area and stroller parking there it was a challenge to get a picture.
    • Entertainment
      • The Pixarmonic Orchestra has moved to the Pixar Pier Band Shell. The shell itself looks ok but the venue is not good for performances. The performers are on ground level and have no real stage. Guests watching have very little shade and cannot really spread out due to cast members asking you to move closer to keep the walkway clear. It was not enjoyable at all to try and watch a performance there. On the plus side having a live band on the Pier was great to hear as you walked around the immediate area.
      • Characters - There are a couple character meet and greet locations set up. Edna was out near the Incredibles fountain and I saw Dug/Russell near the wheel. It was good to see characters out on the Pier but again no real shade or space for the queues.

  • Pixar Fest is still going on in Paradise Gardens but is a shell of its former self. The characters and band are gone. You are left with some signs/posters to take pictures in front of and menu items at the grill. Seems they might as well shut those down too at this point. The background music was still Pixar films too.

  • The area from the swings around to the Little Mermaid is now called Paradise Gardens Park on the park guides. I did not see any signage to indicate this on Friday as I walked around. The trash cans still say Paradise Pier for example.

  • I gave the Play Disney Parks App a try as I roamed around Friday. The trivia questions were ok, but it seemed to repeat. I also tried one attraction, the Haunted Mansion and found it a bit frustrating. It did not acknowledge I was there and then when I left it did not either. So I tried the over ride and nothing seemed to happen. I checked back 10 minutes or so later and it did show up. Seems a bit quirky to me but it is a first release so it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean is another step closer to the return of FastPass. A sign has been installed to the left of the entrance with cut outs for what appears to be the return time clock. I found it interesting the sign was installed before being fully assembled. I would have expected it to be finished vs having a semi finished item on stage.

  • Ate dinner at the Stage Door Cafe. I am surprised the location does not feature mobile order, guess it will be a later round? Or wonder if it is a crowd flow issue. While eating noted they were replacing/repainting the Laod Bhang & Co Fireworks – Rocket Factory Sign on the backstage gate. This gate was being renovated recently. Does anyone remember/know the story behind this artwork? I know I read about it somewhere but I cannot remember where or what it said.

  • I took a stroll through Downtown Disney to see what was happening. The rest of the locations between the Monorail and Disneyland Hotel closed this past week so on Friday nothing was open. I saw reports that the security check point between ESPN and Rainforest will be closing July 2nd so I take that to mean the walls will be going up and the demolition work will begin around then. On Friday there were guests from the parking lot and hotels passing through the area but not really a crowd. There were duelling DJs on the stage and they had a tough time holding an audience when I walked by.

  • As the sun begins to set Pixar Fest takes over the Tomorrowland Terrace with the Pixar Pals Dance Party. The party is hosted by a DJ and throughout the evening (7:00-10:30 nightly) some Pixar friends stop by. On Friday I saw Russell, Dug, Sully, Emile and Remy. The dance floor had a good size crowd and the kids seemed to be enjoying the character time. I am curious later in the evening how it is. It seems like late hours for a kids dance party. I miss the live band performances. I would have rather seen the dance party take over the Band Shell on Pixar Pier each night.

  • I watched the 8:40pm All-American College Band set and it appears they have settled in with the traditional Town Square set as this one (the first week this was the later set but the last two this way). So it featured Bubbles was a Cheerleader, Uptown Funk, Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind and Fire tributes.

  • I closed out my visit with Together Forever fireworks from Main Street USA. Someone asked if the show has grown on me. Not really. It is enjoyable but I would not place it in my top Disney firework offerings.. it would be near the middle to lower middle rankings.

  • After the fireworks I headed for the trams and was surprised to find no backup and I was able to board the first tram that pulled in. Guess I had great timing or luck this week a great way to end the evening.

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

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap May 9- June 5, 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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