Pixar Pier has now been open for a month. That means that just four weeks ago, my family was invited by Disneyland to be among the first people to enjoy Incredicoaster! We played games, cut loose on Pixar Pal-A-Round and indulged in animated apertifs.
Why wait a few weeks to share? Well, first of all, I knew that every last detail of this space would be loudly hyped up for awhile. I wanted to give that a little time to settle before coming at you with the boiled-down, straightforward details you need to know. Second: I'm sentimental, and this was a somewhat difficult post for me to write.
My sister and I were among the first to walk along Paradise Pier the week it originally opened. After losing her to a fatal car wreck two months ago, I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive about revisiting areas that were nostalgic for me – and seeing the space changed. I was anxious about how my memories might have been hijacked! I've seen similar concerns echoed among friends and on internet forums with just about every Disney update announcement. People watch their families grow up here, and it can be uncomfortable to know that the backdrop of those recollections is changing.
If you're a die-hard Disney fan and are having any of the same worries, I'm here to tell you that you can rest easy. The revamp here stays true to the original feel, while helping this area fit better with Disney themes overall. Paradise Pier always felt mildly disjointed to me, and now it feels like it truly fits in this space. It marries the past and the present in a way that's oh-so-California: collected and polished, yet easygoing and familiar all at once.
When you first walk through the entryway, on the right you'll encounter Lamplight Lounge where Cove Bar and Ariel's Grotto used to be. This space honors Pixar animators in everything from its decor to its much-talked-about drinks. You should definitely order the Sequel or the Server Room Chill to get your buzz on with some bubbly, smoking dry ice while gazing out over the lake.
They actually serve an even more entertaining non-alcoholic version called the Infinity Fizz, which adds cherry pearls, dry ice and Powerade together for a rustling brew. Also good for kids: the children's menu has a variety of kid-friendly options served in a fancy formation like these PB&J rolls. For dessert, don't miss the Donuts with Dipping Sauces. Just be sure to make reservations – this place is hopping!
Across from Lamplight Lounge, a gift shop called Knick's Knacks (formerly Treasures in Paradise) offers up an amazing selection of Pixar picks including sketch artists producing original works of art on-demand.
Continuing on down the pier, Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats features delectable favorites hand-picked by the sweet snowman from Monsters, Inc. Get a Pixar Pier Parfait for a totally-Instagramable dessert with non-dairy lemon soft serve and blue raspberry slushie. We lingered in this area to finish our sweets while marveling at all the cute, updated posters.
Incredicoaster comes up next and it's…well…incredible. It maintains the original track of California Screamin' while updating it with a remarkable score and a fun storyline involving the Incredibles coaster trying to catch Jack-Jack. Will the speeding coaster be able to reach the teleporting, superpower-manifesting baby? You'll have to ride to find out.
Next to Incredicoaster, Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums serves up chocolate chip and shortbread cookies. They even have gluten-friendly cookies and non-dairy milk options! This selection is bound to put a smile on even the most wild and crazy toddler's face.
Moving on down the boardwalk, there are plenty more fun food options including Señor Buzz Churros, Angry Dogs and Poultry Palace.
If you can't nab a table at Lamplight Lounge, I can promise that you won't starve.
Seriously. I love how they've infused the whole space with in-depth Pixar characters and themes. The name “Poultry Palace,” for example, is picked up from a fast food restaurant featured in the Toy Story animated short titled “Small Fry.” Who would know that except a serious fan? I'll admit it took a quick Google, for me. There are a lot of these little Easter eggs. Sort of like Hidden Mickeys, but for modern animation buffs!
Next it's time to hop on Pixar Pal-A-Round, formerly Mickey's Big Wheel. Mickey still holds his space in the center of the wheel, and the swinging and non-swinging gondolas are still there with a shiny new coat of paint featuring favorite Pixar characters. It's pretty cool to watch the cast of the latest movies swooping by, and the view from up top can't be beat!
Rounding out this end of the pier, Toy Story Boardwalk features a ton of carnival-style games. Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff candy shop will be opening later this summer, Jessie's Critter Carousel is due in 2019, and the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind ride will be following sometime after that.
One of my other favorite areas in California Adventure, A Bug's Land, is shutting down after Labor Day weekend to make way for a new space dedicated entirely to Marvel. This will round out the adjacent Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! ride, which was a revamp of the former Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. Also on the docket is the summer 2019 opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland, with a Disney World area to match several months later.
I'm obviously slow to accept change in the Disney arena, but I have to admit that they've totally nailed it so far. I'm stoked to see what's in store next.
Are you checking out Pixar Pier this summer?