Pixar Pier opens to the public on Saturday, but we got a first look at the new Disney California Adventure land this evening during Disney's media preview.
Our first stop? The Incredicoaster. Come along for our on-ride POV video.
Yep, it's the same ride as the old California Screamin'. Disney has enclosed the sound shields and made them into show tunnels for the ride, which follows the superhero Parr family's attempt to retrieve its youngest, Jack-Jack, after he bails on Edna Mode, who also was too short to go on the ride.
Jack-Jack shows his polymorph's superpowers throughout the ride, including laser eyes, fire, and multiplying. And his siblings and parents do their best to protect us while luring Jack-Jack back home, including bribing him with his favorite Cookie Nums Nums, which we smell briefly at the end of the second tunnel.
California Screamin' was probably more kids' first "upside down" coaster than any other such ride in Southern California. The addition of these show scenes should help more parents of hesitant early-elementary kids to convince them to make the step up to this "big kid" coaster. The scenes give fans of California Screamin' something else to look at during what's always been a fun, if unspectacular, ride.
Do ride near the front, though. The back seats remain uncomfortably rough, made worse by the bulky and unnecessary over-the-shoulder restraints. I wish Disney had invested in more comfortable modern trains when it remade this ride. The speakers for the on-ride audio also needed a boost, as they are inaudible at times. Why spend the money on a new musical score if we can't hear it?
I also am left wondering what could have been if Disney had chosen to push into new projection technology with this ride. The static figures inside the tunnels are nice additions, but what if Disney could have employed some nifty new projection tech and animated these scenes instead? (Update: Animatronics in the tunnels would not work, for reasons that Russell Meyer details in the comments.)
I always liked the Commerson's dolphin animation that SeaWorld San Diego used to have on the vertical lift for its Journey to Atlantis ride. That was a slow moving lift, and animating a high speed coaster tunnel is a wildly more difficult challenge. But if anyone could pull that off, I feel that Walt Disney Imagineering could give it a go. The Incredibles are all about action, and I want to see more than static characters when I am rushing by them on a high-speed adventure.
But don't mistake that wistful regret for a rejection. To me, Incredicoaster is a nice upgrade from California Screamin' — just as Pixar Pier represents an upgrade from the old Paradise Pier. This always was the most troublesome land in California Adventure — a land themed to the old timey amusement parks that Disneyland pretty much relegated to popular insignificance with its immersive theming. If anyone still felt any nostalgia for those types of attractions, they're probably older than Carl Fredricksen at this point.
Pixar, however, is one of the world's most powerful entertainment brands. It's not just beloved by kids, it's beloved by a lot of young adults and parents who grew up with and have been enjoying these films for two decades. Throwing a Pixar skin on the pier gives it new life and a welcomed kick of fun.
Unfortunately, Disney didn't do itself any favors by not having this new land completed when it opened to the media and the public. The Toy Story-themed Jessie's Critter Carousel won't be ready until next year. Disney hasn't even announced a date for the Inside Out spinner ride that it is widely tipped to be reskinning from It's a Bug Land. (Update: It dropped the news on Friday.) The Bing Bong sweet shop remains behind construction walls. The incompletions rob the land of flow and energy, undercutting the whole point of the refurbishment.
But, at some point, Pixar Pier will be complete. And, given how many people love these franchises, I'm sure that affinity will extend to this land — just as Disney is hoping.
Next: The food of Pixar Pier.Tweet
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