First of all, let me answer the most basic of questions: WHAT IS PIXAR FEST?
I’ve been getting this question A LOT from my Disney and non-Disney friends alike. The short answer is: a celebration of all things Pixar. But really, that response is quite simplified. My goal with this post is to dive into that question in greater detail and give you my perspective on the event.
One of the first things I always do when Disney announces a new event is to check out the Disney Parks Blog which gives fantastic overviews and Disneyland.com where you can find topline details on all entertainment and food options, but both of these sources still leave a lot of questions to be answered.
I think the biggest one is this: is Pixar Fest worth booking a separate trip to Disneyland for? And my answer would be: that depends. If you go to Disneyland once a year or every couple of years, then I would say wait until June 23 (despite Disney’s very enticing marketing campaign to come join the fun NOW). If you go to Disneyland every couple of months, then definitely! It just comes down to expectations. If you know what to expect going into the event, then you're likely to have a really fantastic time. So let me help you navigate through your expectations.
WHAT TO EXPECT
For those who ventured out to Disney California Adventure last year for the Summer of Heroes celebration, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Pixar Fest entails. This includes a light decoration overlay in some key areas of the park (mainly the esplanade, both park entrances, Disneyland’s Main Street, and DCA’s Paradise Garden area), some awesome specialty food and drink options, specialty merch, character meet & greets, and 2 new(ish) shows and the return of the Paint the Night parade.
FOOD AND DRINK
This is the part I’ve honestly been the most excited for, and so far, my expectations have been exceeded. There are new treats almost EVERYWHERE. I haven’t tried most of the new options but the few things I have tried are DELISH.
Here is a full list of all the places that have new Pixar themed food and drink options:
Disney California Adventure Park
Downtown Disney District
If you love Pixar and all things cute, then be prepared to open your wallets (over and over and over again). There are so many cute things to buy it’s actually overwhelming. From adorable popcorn buckets, tumblers, and straws - to classic merchandise like shirts and hats, there is something for everyone. Because there are so many things to buy you really have to check all around the park. Different carts and kiosks sell different items, in addition to all of the commemorative merchandise in the gift shops. Also, if you see something you like, BUY IT. There is a good chance if you try to come back for it at a later time it may be too late. Some of the more popular items like the sippers and the popcorn buckets will sell out quickly.
CHARACTER MEET AND GREETS
This is another personal favorite. In honor of Pixar, Disney California Adventure’s Paradise Garden (over by Goofy’s Sky School) has turned into “Pixar Pals”. It's over in this area that you can wait to meet Pixar characters that we haven’t seen around Disneyland for a long time (if ever!) The rotation of characters includes: Woody and Jesse, Sully and Mike, and more!
Lines for the character meet and greets are LONG so if you really want to meet the characters plan on doing this first thing in the morning.
This category is quite possibly the most hotly anticipated of the Fest. Mainly because we’ve been hearing about the technology and surprises included in the new nighttime fireworks spectacular for a while now. The new fireworks show called “Together Forever”, focuses solely on Pixar films and is both fun and heartwarming. There is one showing at 9:30 and people will start claiming their spots as early as 7:30 or 8 (likely even earlier if you want a spot right in front of the castle). This show relies heavily on projections so anywhere along Main Street is a fine viewing location if you can’t find something close to the castle.
The other new(ish) Pixar specific show is the updated “Pixar Play Parade”. Disney has taken a lot of the floats from the original Pixar Play parade over at DCA and transported them over to Disneyland for the duration of this event. There are 3 new floats and all new choreography so in a lot of ways it does feel like a new parade. Always check your Disneyland app or park entertainment guides upon arrival for show times but typically there are two showings on weekends (at 3:30 and 6:00) and one during the week (at 6:00). A word of caution on this parade: there is water involved so if you are in the front row there is a very good chance you’ll get sprayed.
Lastly, Disneyland's favorite nighttime parade, Paint the Night, is back! Only this time it’s been moved to DCA. There are two showings on the weekends (at 8:45 and 10:45) and one during the week (at 8:45). If you want to see the parade AND the fireworks in Disneyland in the same day you'll likely need to watch the fireworks first and then make your way across the esplanade to see the later showing of Paint the Night.
ANNUAL PASSHOLDER EXCLUSIVES
There are some fun exclusives just for APs. The first is an Alien popcorn bucket that will be available starting April 24 and will be refillable for $1 until May 24. There is also an AP Corner in DCA over by Pixar Pals where you can take a picture in front of a commemorative backdrop and receive Pixar-themed removable decals (a new one every 2 weeks)!
Pixar Fest will be running from now until Sept 3 so you have plenty of time to enjoy the festivities. Things will REALLY pick up when Pixar Pier finally opens on June 23. For those of you planning to come only once, I would recommend waiting until after June 23 so you can get the FULL Pixar experience. Yes, lines will be long but it will be worth it to see all of the renovations up-close-and-personal.
I hope you found this blog post useful. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and experiences!