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Disneyland Article
Everything To Expect During Pixar Fests Grand Return
Kenneth Chan
Excitement buzzes through the air, like a whirlwind of colourful balloons hovering high over Sleeping Beauty Castle, as Disneyland Resort in Anaheim welcomes back Pixar Fest with open arms and a new — yet familiar — sprinkle of magic.

This is the second-ever Pixar Fest at Disneyland after the first iteration in 2018, and it comes just on the heels of the resort’s role last year as the global hub for the Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

But this is far from being a mere carbon copy of the first Pixar Fest from six years ago. New characters, stories, and themes from Pixar Animation Studios’ latest original films — including Soul, Luca, Turning Red, and Elemental — are infused into the latest experiences while also retaining the whimsicality of Pixar-defining favourites like Toy Story.

In some cases, Pixar classics have been given a whole new light — for example, there is now a giant human-sized talking Dug, the lovable golden retriever from Pixar’s Up, roaming around Disney California Adventure Park.

“What we loved about the first round of Pixar Fest, we’ve built upon it, and I think made it even better and amazing for our guests,” said Megan Roth, a manager of event production and a spokesperson for Disneyland Resort, during a media preview attended by Daily Hive.

Pixar Fest has a highly limited three-month run between late April and August 4, 2024 — right up until Disneyland Resort begins its annual spooky transition for the Halloween season.

Here is a rundown of the Pixar-themed experiences from the second-ever Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort in Summer 2024:

New characters, Club Pixar, and Pixar Pals Playtime

The aforementioned talking Dug from Up will perform meetings and greetings with fans at the Redrose Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park, where squirrels may, on occasion, distract his undivided attention from guests.

“I think you might be surprised how you can now interact with Dug, so that’s something to really look out for when you find Dug and have that fun interaction,” said Tracy Halas, a creative director at Disney Live Entertainment.

Halas adds other new character encounters include the dried-off human forms of Luca and Alberto from Luca, Ember and Wade from Elemental, as well as new supersuits for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible from The Incredibles.

There are also two other live entertainment activations beyond the parade.

This includes Club Pixar in the Hollywood Backlot of Disney California Adventure Park, with games and character encounters during the daytime, and a DJ dance party, live performances, photo opportunities, themed food, and crafted beverages for the backlot’s transformation after dark. The “Club Pixar” neon signs are hard to miss.

Over at the Fantasyland Theatre in Disneyland Park, there will be activations throughout the day with characters, along with what is described as a “high-energy show,” plus interactive games, photo opportunities, and other Pixar-themed activities.

“The biggest challenge was that there were far too many things to work with. The biggest challenge was looking at all the plethora, the library of Pixar films and shorts that we have at our disposal. And which ones do we use? Which ones do we celebrate?” said Robert Trowbridge, a show director for Disney Live Entertainment.

“How do you narrow it down? Because there are so many wonderful things to work with.”

“Better Together” Pixar parade The “Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration!” roams through Disney California Adventure Park twice daily. It retains the spirit of the previous Pixar Play Parade and provides the fan-favourite parade with a major update.

It features over two dozen Pixar characters, including the new additions of Red Panda Mei from Turning Red, Joe from Soul, and Luca and Alberto from Luca. These new additions are topped off with older characters and longtime favourites, including Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl from The Incredibles, Miguel from Coco, Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc., and Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

Of course, just like the Pixar hopping lamp introduction in the animated films, a float with the iconic Pixar lamp kicks off the parade procession.

“We wanted to go into this parade with a message. And then messages from the stories that we helped bring to life, basically the truth about life is: friendship matters, and that friendship is a great thing. And then when we have friends, we are better together, right?” said Robert Trowbridge, a show director for Disney Live Entertainment.

“We’ve learned from our Pixar pals that friends will accept us or help lift us up no matter what we’re going through, no matter what stages we are in life. And we love that message. And so better together at Pixar pals celebration is literally an invitation to celebrate friendship and beyond, right?”

“Together Forever” fireworks

Pixar Fest’s fireworks show has also returned with some all-new sequences, continuing the show’s overarching theme of friendship overcoming adversity to forge everlasting bonds.

“Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” combines fireworks, vivid, colourful projections, and other special lighting features with physical aerial set pieces and characters that streak across the sky, namely the flying balloon house from Up, along with Buzz Lightyear himself.

But like everything else in this second iteration of Pixar Fest, there have also been key updates to account for the latest animated films, including new scenes featuring characters and moments from Onward, Soul, Luca, Turning Red, and Elemental.

“Originally, the idea was that we were just going to add the new characters to the old show. [But] … we really need to do something a little bit different. And we decided to sort of break the show apart in little ways and add in the new characters to our appropriate chapters,” said KC Wilkerson, the principal media designer at Disney Live Entertainment.

“Because remember, Together Forever is a story. And it’s about meeting new friends. It’s about taking those friends and setting out on adventures. And it’s about overcoming adversity together. And that is what allows us to form everlasting bonds. So we wanted to choose moments from the newer films that really reflected the overall story that we were trying to tell.”

Since 2018, when the original version of “Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” took to the skies over Disneyland Park, the projectors have undergone major technological upgrades, providing greater detail, clarity, and richer colours. Specifically for this updated version of the nighttime spectacular, special unique shells have been developed to add more variations to this second iteration of the show.

When it comes to fireworks viewing locations at Disneyland Park, spectators may instinctively gravitate towards the main plaza, the area closest to the castle.

But there are also other optimal fireworks viewing locations, namely Main Street, USA. Projections fully animate the buildings along Main Street, USA, to provide a framed view of the fireworks bursting over the castle and the backlot.

Alternative fireworks viewing areas entail the Rivers of America, and It’s A Small World, where projections onto the facade feature “hidden Mickeys.”

It should be noted that the nighttime spectacular only incorporates fireworks on select nights, with the show being a projection-only display for all other nights. However, according to Wilkerson, the fireworks are included for most nights through the end of Pixar Fest’s run on August 4.

Pixar-themed eats Soul-inspired Earth Pass Cake with lemon cream cheese mousse with mango-passion fruit compote covered with candies and vanilla sauce?

Luca-inspired Sea Monster Friends Parfait with mascarpone cheesecake and berry blue gelatin?

Cars-inspired Racing Radial Cake chocolate cake filled with red cheesecake — completely shaped like a race car tire?

And so on and so forth.

“These are savoury, these are deserts, these are candy confections, these are beverages for both adults and kids. And there are novelties to help continue to tell the story in many different ways,” said John State, a chef and culinary director for Disneyland Resort.

There are dozens of new limited-time food and beverage options found at 29 various locations scattered across both theme parks.

BTW: There is also a different twist to the renowned DOLE Whip soft serve by having it used as the topping for the Pineapple Coconut Float.

A Pixar-themed hotel Just in time for the return of Pixar Fest, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel has been renamed and rebranded as the Pixar Place Hotel. As the name suggests, the renovated hotel fully immerses guests in the works of all things Pixar.

The property is one of the three Disney-owned and operated hotels at Disneyland Resort.

As an alternative to a visit to Disneyland Resort in California over the coming months, Canadians can also save 20% on the admission cost of five-day or longer theme park tickets at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This Canadians-only deal with no blackout dates runs through September 28, 2024.

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