Adventure is out there — and by out there, we mean right at Disneyland Resort’s California Adventure Park, where Pixar Pier is officially open for business.
The new land, which is filled with Pixar-inspired rides, food, and merchandise, opened this weekend during Pixar Fest, a “limited-time celebration of friendship and beyond” that’s taking place throughout Disneyland Resort until Labor Day.
California Adventure already had A Bug’s Land and Cars Land, but none dedicated collectively to all of the Pixar films. “It’s something that we’ve talked about for awhile, but it was really about a year ago that the idea really solidified,” says Roger Gould, Director of Pixar Animation’s Theme Parks Group, about the introduction of a new land devoted entirely to the studio’s oeuvre. “Every time a new film comes out, we struggle with where to put that character so the audience can come and meet the new characters from our new films,” Gould says. “We were looking at the release of Incredibles 2 and started throwing around, ‘[Is] there a really big way to celebrate the Incredibles here in the park?’”
The initial idea was an overlay — like when Space Mountain got a temporary Star Wars-themed makeover as “Hyperspace Mountain,” timed to the release of The Force Awakens — that would recast Paradise Pier’s California Screamin’ roller coaster as the Incredibles-inspired Incredicoaster (more on the reimagined ride below). “That idea was so great that the president of Disneyland Resort said, ‘Can we make that permanent?’” Gould tells EW. “And when we started looking at it, thinking about the Incredicoaster as kind of the tentpole of this land, we started saying, you know, it would be so great to have a place where we could celebrate all the films of Pixar.”
Paradise Pier “was very sweet,” Gould says, “but didn’t have any particular connection to a Disney or Pixar story” — and it conveniently provided the perfect real estate to get the full Pixar treatment. The newly christened Pixar Pier is split into neighborhoods: Incredibles Park, which includes the Incredicoaster; Toy Story Boardwalk, which incorporates the existing Toy Story Mania! attraction and the merry-go-round, which is currently closed but will reopen next year as Jessie’s Critter Carousel; and the Pixar Promenade, which includes the Pixar Pal-Around (formerly Mickey’s Fun Wheel) and a series of carnival games, all inspired by different Pixar titles.
The fourth neighborhood will be Inside Out Headquarters, which will introduce a new attraction in 2019 inspired by Inside Out. Narrowing down which films would get the spotlight with a devoted area on the Pier “was a little torturous,” Gould admits. They finally settled on the emotion-populated 2015 Oscar winner in part because, “Imagineers often talk about their job, the foundation of their job, [as] making memories,” Gould says. “And Inside Out is all about the value and the power of memories.”
Gould also expressed a wish to add a WALL-E attraction to the Pier, and while production on the land had already begun when Coco hit theaters in the fall, his team took note of that film’s rapturous reception as well. “We’re all so proud of that film, and so happy with how the audience has embraced it,” he says. “That needs a permanent home somewhere.”
Close-up on The Incredicoaster
“A roller coaster is about the most ridiculous storytelling medium you could ever imagine,” Gould says. “You’re going to send people out rocketing at high speeds up and down this coaster — how do you tell the story?”
Luckily, the Disney Imagineers were up to the task — and The Incredibles and California Screamin’ were “a match made in heaven,” says Jeffrey Shaver-Moskowitz, a producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. “What a coaster does for someone is, it gets them to experience this speed and this thrill that you’d never experience. The supers get to experience that — Dash is faster than anyone around!” (So is The Incredicoaster, which is now the fastest attraction and the longest coaster at Disneyland Resort.)
The story behind the ride is: When a new roller coaster at a theme park is dedicated to the Incredibles and their acts of heroism, baby Jack-Jack is too short to join his parents and siblings on its inaugural run, so he stays on the ground with Edna Mode, babysitter extraordinaire. The second the coaster takes off, however, Jack-Jack promptly escapes Auntie Edna using his powers, and his family chases him all along the ride, trying to catch the unpredictable infant.
So why focus on little Jack-Jack rather than one of the Incredibles’ various foes? “The Incredibles focuses on the family,” Shaver-Moskowitz says. “It really is about the family and the family dynamic, and them coming together and coming together through challenges where they bond and face these adversities.”
Furthermore, from the beginning, when Pixar shared Incredibles 2 storyboards with the Imagineers while the film was still in progress, “It was clear that Jack-Jack is the star of the film,” Gould says. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to take this attraction — and for many people, it’s scary — and then, at the heart of it, put a giggling baby who just thinks everything is funny?”
“We’ve all fallen in love with Jack-Jack. His powers are hilarious, the way he just innocently uses them because he can’t control them,” Shaver-Moskowitz adds. “And the giggles! The giggles, as you’re going through a roller coaster, bring a levity to the experience. You can’t help but laugh along with him.”
Much like both Incredibles films, the Incredicoaster has a custom score from composer Michael Giacchino, whom Gould describes as “a coaster fiend.” While Giacchino was still working on the music for the sequel, “He came down back in January, rode six times in a row — he’s pretty relentless,” Gould recalls. “He got off the coaster and said, ‘Yeah, I got it in my head.’”
The look of the ride, as well as the entire Incredibles neighborhood, is decidedly midcentury, and the aesthetic approach was highly intentional. “That’s the fun thing about the Incredibles films: Brad [Bird] set the movies in this fantastic moment, the late ‘50s, early ‘60s — this midcentury modern moment where the future just seemed limitless,” Gould says. The Theme Parks team wanted to recapture that look, and found inspiration in a real-life midcentury modern theme park — the 1964 New York City World’s Fair, where Walt Disney himself debuted four attractions.
Rounding out the neighborhood is Jack-Jack’s Cookie Num-Nums, where you, too, can snag one of the treats that occasionally inspire the littlest Parr to turn into a crazed purple demon. The cookies (served warm!), as well as the land in which you can taste them and the wild ride around which it’s built, really are — pardon us for saying so — incredible.
“I’ve been doing that all day,” Shaver-Moskowitz admits. “I try to stop myself from using ‘incredible,’ but it really is the word to describe it.”
Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort’s California Adventure Park is now open. Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort will continue through Sept. 3. Incredibles 2 is currently in theaters.