Yesterday, Shannon and I went to Disney California Adventure (DCA) to experience Paradise Pier for the last time ever. :( We ate our last plate of lobster nachos, enjoyed our last Cove Bar secret-menu items, and listened to the fading shrieks on California Screamin’. Why? Because starting today, California Adventure starts construction on its new theme.
Probably the biggest change in the Disney parks this year is the transformation of Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier. This means the loss and revamping of the beloved Cove Bar, Ariel’s Grotto, and California Screamin’, among others. Because DCA was built and opened during my lifetime, it’s a little bittersweet for me. I experienced my first loop on California Screamin’!
Still, I’ve also watched DCA grow from being a fairly boring park with four major rides to the incredibly imaginative and unique place it is now. The change I was most upset about last year was the replacement of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Mission: Breakout! since it was such a huge part of DCA. But seeing what Disney did with the Guardians ride was incredibly impressive, making me realize that (1) change is inevitable and (2) Disney knows what it’s doing.
Right now, there’s a disconnect between the front and back of the parks, so I think that Pixar Pier is a really smart move on Disney’s part. Pixar is a consistent producer of great family-friendly movies that are loved by kids, teenagers, and adults alike. So basing an entire portion of the park around that theme really builds on that foundation and won't get old anytime soon. All of Disney’s changes in DCA — from Cars Land and Guardians to Halloween Time and Festival of Holidays — have been wonderful and have only made the park better each year. So, I have every confidence that Pixar Pier will be nothing short of incredible.
Here is a breakdown of what’s changing, opening, and closing.
Paradise Pier → Pixar Pier
This is obvious, but Paradise Pier will be revamped to center around Pixar with four different “neighborhoods”: Toy Story, The Incredibles, Inside Out, and general Pixar.
California Screamin’ → Incredicoaster
California Screamin’ will be redesigned to reflect The Incredibles — hence the Incredicoaster! As far as I know, the actual ride will be more or less the same, but the ride’s story will center around the Parr family chasing baby Jack Jack with the coaster. The theme will coincide with the release of The Incredibles 2, which will premiere on July 14, 2018.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel → Pixar-themed wheel
We don’t know what it will be called or if the name will change, but we do know that it will be redesigned to feature Pixar characters. But fear not — Mickey’s smiling face will remain on the side! If the name does have to change, I personally think it should be called the Pixar Play Wheel (copyright that).
Toy Story–themed Boardwalk → Pixar-themed Boardwalk
If my information is correct, rather than having all the boardwalk games be Toy Story–themed, the booths will be inspired by A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, and the Pixar short La Luna.
Ariel’s Grotto and Cove Bar → ??
Disney can’t really get rid of this completely because that corner of the park needs an eatery, but the Ariel’s Grotto and Cove Bar as we know it will be gone. Disney will retheme and rename them according to Pixar, but we don’t know exactly what yet. It’s been said that Cove Bar will reopen temporarily in April — and when it does, we’ll definitely keep you updated!
Together Forever – a Pixar Nighttime Spectacular
This is a brand-new fireworks show at Disneyland that will be centered around Pixar (obvi) and the theme of friendship. The cool thing is that it will take place all over the park, with projections on Sleeping Beauty castle, the water screens at the Rivers of America, It’s a Small World, and Main Street. And instead of Tinkerbell starting the show, a flying Buzz Lightyear will open this nighttime spectacular.
Pixar Play Parade
This parade was originally in DCA, but for Pixar Fest, it’s moving to Disneyland park. It will continue to feature floats from classics like Monsters Inc., Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and more, and starting April 13, Disney will debut brand-new floats based on Inside Out, Up, and Luxo Jr. (Pixar’s iconic jumping desk lamp).
Paint the Night
The uber-popular, INCREDIBLE nighttime parade that debuted for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary will return, but this time at DCA. Basically, the Pixar Play Parade and Paint the Night are switching places.
What will be closed during the renovations (starting 1/8/17):
Games of the Boardwalk
Sideshow Shirts retail store
As for other rides on or near the pier, like Triton’s carousel, there’s no word on the specifics. But if they did keep it, the carousel would probably just feature Pixar characters instead of fish. I’m PRAYING that they’ll replace Cove Bar with something very similar, since that’s one of my favorite parts of DCA. Shannon’s husband, Zach, said that they should rename it Crush Cove (#copyrightthat). But there has been a rumor that it could become the sushi restaurant featured in Monsters Inc. — which sounds BOMB!! They have to replace it with something, since Cove Bar was so successful.
Like any person who grew up with Paradise Pier, I’m sad to see childhood rides go, but I am SO EXCITED for what’s coming. Plus, with all the changes happening at DCA, the park as a whole will be more consistent with its movie theme, with Buena Vista Street centering around Hollywood and Marvel, and the rest of the park centering on Pixar (Cars Land, A Bug’s Land, Coco, and Pixar Pier) — the one exception being Grizzly Peak and that whole corner. Who knows what Disney will do with that in the future. But really, the possibilities are endless with these movies, and Disney can use them to inspire so many cool attractions! Like maybe an Inside Out VR ride, Inside Out gumballs, Bing Bong candy store — I mean, come ON. They can do so much.
And you know what else will undoubtedly make a debut? PIXAR FOOD. UGH.
Pixar Pier opens on Friday, April 13, with Pixar Fest, and you know we’ll be reporting back!
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on all the fun snacks we find and on how to throw the most amazing Pixar Party in preparation for the opening.
Here are a few pictures from our last day at Cove Bar!