Buzz and Woody, Mike and Sulley, Marlin and Dory, Lightning McQueen and Mater, Joy and Sadness … Pixar films brought us some of our favorite, and sometimes most unlikely, friendship duos. And now you can add Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure to the buddies list, as the Pixar Fest brings together these two neighboring parks in one big happy celebration. Pixar Fest launched on April 13, 2018.
The party really ramped up in June with the opening of Pixar Pier, the IncrediCoaster and other new experiences. With so much happening during Disneyland Pixar Fest between now and Sept. 3, 2018, you’re going to need to grab a friend or family member to experience it all together. But how to fit it all in??? Luckily you’ve got a friend in me (well, us frogs)!
What to See & Do at Disneyland Pixar Fest
We have hopped about with our cameras, entertainment guide and appetites to create this guide to Disneyland Pixar Fest so you can map out the Pixar characters you want to meet, shows you want to see, and yummy themed-treats and (come summer) new rides you have to experience. While Pixar Fest is started off with a bang with a new fireworks show and parades in each park, there is now more to celebrate with the opening of Pixar Pier. Use this “friendtastic” guide to Pixar Fest at Disneyland to make your plans and help you decide the best time to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure by Sept. 3.
Disneyland Pixar Fest Shows & Entertainment
Together Forever Fireworks Show
To friendship … and beyond! At Disneyland, the fireworks lift off with Buzz Lightyear soaring over Sleeping Beauty’s castle during the new “Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular“ fireworks show. The show is choreographed with music and projection on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and three other viewing locations in the park. Enjoy scenes from timeless Pixar tales as well as recent hits such as "Coco" and the upcoming "Incredibles 2." You’ll see the “Up” house, lifted by balloons, sail over the castle. The show will take you on an emotional journey of friendship with your favorite Pixar pals. But viewing this show near the castle does require some planning. Luckily, there are three other “friendtastic” locations to experience it.
If you are seeing the 9:00 p.m. Fantasmic! show, simply stay in place to experience the fireworks, music and projection on water screens at Rivers of America. There are projections on the buildings of Main Street U.S.A., and that location will allow a distant view of the castle for that iconic fireworks experience while being surrounded by mesmerizing projection. A less-crowded spot to view projection that is actually closer to the fireworks can be found at “it’s a small world.” It’s time to start thinking about the best places to view Together Forever fireworks inside the park. Keep in mind that you’ll need to hop in place a few hours early to get a good castle view location, whereas you can hop into Main Street or in front of “it’s a small world” a lot closer to show time. Knowing all these tips can help you manage your time and crowd-coping skills.
Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland
Best friends and good neighbors are good sharers, so the parks are taking turns and sharing their parades during Disneyland Pixar Fest, with each park adding some enhancements to the parades. The Pixar Play Parade — which has been at Disney California Adventure in the past — makes its way down the parade route at Disneyland. The Pixar lamp leads the procession and new Pixar characters have joined in the fun. Be on the lookout for characters from “Up” and “Inside Out.”
If you want to relax and watch from a reserved area on Main Street in front of the Plaza Inn, you can reserve a dining package from Plaza Inn. They have several picnic meals available (including gluten-free, vegetarian and kid-friendly options). You can eat them at the restaurant. You reserve in advance, pay once you are in the park (to get your voucher) and pick up the picnic at your convenience. Having a reserved area comes with a price though, and we frogs are always trying to save some green in the parks, so you can always hop in place early for free. For half the price of the dining package price, you can always eat at Plaza Inn or even take your food to go and hop on over to the raised area on the right as you walk towards “it’s a small world." Here you can get a good parade view above the crowd about 30 minutes before parade time.
Benches and shady spots get taken first — about 2 hours before the first parade time, then sunny curbs go. It’s a little easier to get a parade spot for the second parade as the sun is a little lower and there are more shady areas. The parade “lives” near “it’s a small world,” so the first parade starts there and travels to the park entrance. The second parade reverses that route.
Paint the Night Parade
Disneyland is lending our favorite nighttime parade to Disney California Adventure for Pixar Fest. What a pal! One of our favorite parts of Pixar Fest is the return of the Paint the Night parade. You’ll be singing, “When can we do this again?” all over with this parade. And judging just joined the party with a dazzling new float. Watch them take on the new villain, the Underminer with Frozone's assistance.. If you are a diehard Paint the Night fan, don’t expect to see the Frozen float this time around — it’s too tall for the cables that run through Hollywood Land. Keep an eye on the parade route about 1 to 2 hours before parade time (although they may stop you from lining up before 6 p.m.) Benches and curbs fill up first, and Hollywood Land will fill up before the Paradise Garden area. The nightly parade starts near Silly Symphony Swings and ends near Guardians of the Galaxy. Check on the direction with a Cast Member if there is more than one parade when you visit, but for the most part, expect one nightly parade about 8:50 p.m.
There are several Paint the Night Dining Packages at Disney California Adventure. Carthay Circle offers a four-course prix fixe dinner with a Paint the Night voucher for the viewing area next to the restaurant. That viewing area has seats and is located on the Hollywood Land side of the restaurant next along that building. Wine Country Trattoria offers a three-course lunch or dinner with a voucher for a reserved area which has a few benches but mostly ground seating/standing located in front of the grape vines and Blue Sky Cellar. Sonoma Terrace has a reception with reserved seating at 8:00 p.m. right in the preferred viewing area on the parade route in front of Sonoma Terrace. You can snack on a charcuterie tray and sip on wine, beer, or soft drinks while you watch the parade. You also get a box of truffles for dessert. If you are interested in a dining package, you’ll want to get a jump on a Disneyland Dining reservation up to 60 days in advance.
Share Special Disneyland Pixar Fest Foods with a Friend
Friends don’t let friends go hungry. As with all great celebrations, there will be food! Here’s our Pixar Fest overview foodie guide so you can try some of the following Pixar-inspired treats at some of our favorite quick-service and table-service restaurants during Pixar Fest:
- Root Beer Float (Served in a Souvenir Woody’s Boot — we hope it does NOT come with a snake) — Golden Horseshoe
- Jessie’s Berry Funnel Cake (Funnel cake topped with blueberries, strawberries, chocolate cookie crumbles, crème anglaise, white chocolate, and gold-dusted whipped cream) — Stage Door Café
- Lots-o-Straw-“Bear”-y Funnel Cake (Strawberry-cherry topping, strawberry butter and streusel, with spiced syrup drizzle) — Hungry Bear Restaurant
- Lots-o-Straw-“Bear”-y Churros — Tomorrowland
- Alien Macarons, Blackberry Lime Parfait, Green Star Pesto Pasta, Strawberry and Sour Apple Slushes, and Cheeseburger Pizza — Alien Pizza Planet, Tomorrowland
- Fried Bologna Sandwich and Pork Chop TV Dinner — Carnation Café
- Merit Badge Éclair — Jolly Holiday Bakery
- “Up” Tart Nutella Pastry with Chocolate Fredrickson House & Balloons and Frozen Grape Soda Slush — Capuccino Cart, Disneyland
- Salted Caramel Butter Pecan Sundae — Gibson Girl
- Pastrami Dog — Refreshment Corner
- Cocoa Churro (Chocolate and vanilla bean dust and salted cinnamon sugar with a spiced Mexican chocolate dipping sauce) — Frontierland
- Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème, topped with Miguel Chocolate, Souvenir Coco Jaritas (mugs) and other specialty items — Rancho del Zocolo
- Mole Verde con Pollo, Al Pastor Huarache, Tacos de Estilo Callejero, a Jamaica slush and “Coco” Tres Leches Parfait — Paradise Garden Grill
- Tres Leches Parfait—Cocina Cucmonga
- Mike Wazowski Sourdough Bread — Pacific Wharf Café, Disney California Adventure park
- Sulley Premium Popcorn Bucket — All popcorn carts
- Mike Wazowski Sipper — Quick-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure
- Mike Wazowski Krispie Treats — all Candy Kitchens
- Chilled Noodle Salad with iridescent, color-changing noodles — Lucky Fortune Cookery
- Mint Chip Smoothie, Marshmallow Doughnut and Whoopie Pie — Schmoozies
- Pulled Pork Dog and Funnel Cake Fries topped with whipped cream and fruity cereal — Award Wieners
- Three-Flavored Corn Dog (a spicy hot link, pepper jack cheese, and a cajun chicken sausage with sweet and spicy blackberry sauce) — Corn Dog Castle
“Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory”
- Nemo Caramel Apples and Finding Dory Cake Pops (Mommy Frog’s favorite!) — All Candy Kitchens
- Finding Nemo and Finding Dory Souvenir Light-Up Sippers
- Orange-Vanilla Nemo-themed cotton candy — Tomorrowland and carts in Disney California Adventure
- Pixar-themed menu items such as a classic cheeseburger, turkey club sandwich, cobb salad, fried chicken plate — Flo’s V-8 Cafe
- Habanero Meatball Cone, Champions Corn Cup, Road Gravel Ice Cream Topper, and Choose Your Racer Churros —Cozy Cone Motel
- Three-course Remy-inspired menu featuring Specialty Cheese Flight, Shrimp Ratatouille Byaldi and Berry-stuffed Beignets with Mascarpone Cheese — Café Orleans
- Potato-Leek Soup —Royal Street Veranda
Along with these tasty treats you’ll find Pixar Ball cake pops, grape soda cake pops, too-cute-too eat Pixar-themed caramel apples (such as Buttercup the unicorn, green aliens and Mater) and more at any of the candy shops in either park or at Marceline’s Confectionary in Downtown Disney. Share a slice of colorful Pixar Fest Celebration Cake at Plaza Inn or Pacific Wharf Café. This cake has a yellow lemon layer, blue vanilla and red velvet sponge cakes with raspberry puree and cream cheese frosting (anyone else drooling?). Be sure to share with your siblings. There are even more churros (we’re talking lemon and carrot cake and iced and more) around the parks (along with flavored cotton candy in Disney California Adventure), so keep you eye out for spotting those.
Pizza Port is now Alien Pizza Planet, and has many new menu items, slushes and the cutest green alien macarons with blackberry frosting and surprise lemon filling. Yummy! Check out the new décor with aliens on the ceiling.
One of our favorite spots to get a bite and fun drinks, the Cove Bar, has been transformed (along with the now-closed Ariel’s Grotto) into the new Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier. Lamplight Lounge serves casual gastro-pub cuisine and unique cocktails. And, yes, they still have the lobster nachos and the secret menu drinks! They also serve a whole new menu of fun themed-cocktails worth trying, including some that bubble with dry ice! While you chill, you can admire the artistic marks and creativity of the storytellers who have brought us Pixar characters and images. The bar area upstairs offers bar bites, and the downstairs has a full menu — put this on your must-do list for making dining reservations, but they also accept walk-ins. There are some new fun themed eats at stands along Pixar Pier.
Remember the not-so-Abominable Snowman from Monster’s Inc.? He is serving up frozen treats at his Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats! The yellow is lemon Dole whip and is a must-have treat. Try it swirled with blue raspberry in the popular Pixar Pier Parfait. It's a popular treat (that means lines), so try visiting in the evening when the line goes down. In the Toy Story neighborhood, you and your small fries can hop over to Poultry Palace, where you can order meaty chicken legs and coleslaw from a stand shaped like a giant fun meal box (note they have a spicy kick). They also sell a classic Disneyland Resort favorite — turkey legs. Did someone flip the switch to Spanish mode? Senor Buzz Churros will be serving up one of our favorite Disneyland snacks, regular churros and Caliente! — they are red and taste like Red Hots. Anger from Inside Out is burning with rage, and the hotter his temper the hotter the hot dogs at Angry Dogs. He's dishing out spicy Angry dogs and the not-so-spicy Slightly Annoyed Dogs. You can top your dog with ketchups of every degree of angry spice. After riding the new Incredicoaster, stop at the Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums stand for a cookie. There are so many choices! Better share with a friend or family member so you can taste it all.
Purchase Disneyland Pixar Fest Merchandise
Get a Pixar tee or hat or Pixar ears/bows/headbands to take home as a souvenir or to wear on future Disneyland visits. Alert pin collectors: You can add a limited-release Pixar Fest pin to your lanyard. If you want some of those Toy Story action figures to add to your collection, now’s the time with Buzz, Woody, Zurg and Rex for sale. Perhaps some Disneyland Pixar Fest earrings, change purses or ornaments make a budget-friendly (and suitcase-friendly) souvenir? There are many themed spoons and straws and various tumblers and hot beverage mugs throughout the parks. For the largest selection of all things Pixar, hop into Knick’s Knacks on Paradise Pier.
But the hottest-selling, must-have items seem to be the Sulley popcorn bucket and its companion Mike Wazowski sipper. They clip together because best friends are often attached at the hip. Lines are longer in the morning than in the afternoon for these items. The Buzz Lightyear bubble maker makes waiting for parades much more entertaining for the tadpoles.
Catch the Monorail to Disneyland Pixar Fest
The Disneyland Monorail is all decked out for Pixar Fest. Can you find Nemo and friends on one Monorail or catch the Incredibles or Toy Story Aliens racing by on the other?
Where to meet Pixar Characters at Disneyland
You can meet your favorite Pixar characters in their Pixar Pier neighborhoods, like the Incredibles and Edna Mode near the Incredicoaster, or Buzz, Woody and Jessie in front of Toy Story Midway Mania. Some days you might be able to catch some more Pixar pals at the Paradise Gardens Pavilion. Attention! Enlist to take part in operation Playtime! With the Green Army Men near the Paradise Park Obelisk. Over at Disneyland, dance and play with your favorite Pixar characters at the evening Pixar Pals Dance Party.
Lily is all about meeting her favorite characters. Besides meeting special Pixar Fest characters, she also likes to seek out the regularly appearing Pixar characters throughout the parks. Rev up to meet Lightning McQueen, Mater, Red and rock out with DJ in Cars land, or talk to Crush the Turtle at Turtle Talk in Disney Animation. You can usually meet Toy Story characters in Frontierland at Disneyland.
What’s Happening at Disneyland Pixar Fest in Summer 2018?
While the Pixar Fest party has gotten revved up in spring, the party is in full swing now that summer is here! The first round of Pixar Pier features new neighborhoods that represent Pixar stories. California Screamin’ is teamed up with the Incredibles to create a re-themed ride — the Incredicoaster. The new line and loading area is inspired by the Parr home. Join Mrs. Incredible, Jack-Jack and the whole Parr family on a thrilling chase. Put Incredicoaster down as your priority ride or FASTPASS acquisition first thing in the morning because FASTPASSes are distributed faster than a racing Dash. The popular Toy Story Midway Mania ride is surrounded by the Toy Story neighborhood, which will include Jessie’s Critter Carousel to open in 2019. And another neighborhood includes a blend of many Pixar favorites, with Pixar Pal-A-Round's (formerly Mickey's Fun Wheel) gondolas featuring a different set of Pixar pals (don’t worry, Mickey Mouse will still look out over Paradise Bay). The Midway games are all inspired by characters from Pixar movies and shorts, and you can play with the giant Pixar Ball. A fourth inside Out neighborhood is under development, but will include a future family-friendly ride and Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff, a sweet shop that will sell cake pops, caramel apples, candy, Bing Bong's candy tears and Memory Refreshers — colorful frozen drinks. We can't wait!
Pixar-Themed Hotel Packages
All the Pixar fun can’t be contained in the parks. There are Pixar Packages at the hotels as well. You can reserve a Pixar Decorated Room and Ticket Package with a 2-day or more theme park ticket. The package comes with Pixar door banner, blanket and balloons, as well as reserved viewing for Paint the Night for certain nights of the week. If you are staying at the Disneyland Resort, keep an eye out for Pixar Shorts in kid areas, Pixar movie nights and Pixar Fest pool parties.
Tips for Disneyland Pixar Fest
Here are some frogtastically friendly tips for mastering this “Friendtastic” Guide to Pixar Fest at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure:
- Arrive before park opening to experience the lowest waits.
- Plan on visiting two days.
- Consider a Park Hopper ticket.
- Check the Entertainment Schedule for parade and show times.
- Catch the entertaining Pixarmonic Orchestra musical show.
- Learn to draw Pixar characters at Animation Academy.
- Make dining reservations early, especially for dining packages and the new Lamplight Lounge.
- Use the Disneyland App to locate characters, check ride wait times, manage reservations, and even reserve FASTPASSes if using MaxPass.
- Consider springing for MaxPass.
- Utilize single rider lines if riders are over 7 years old.
- Hit the Incredicoaster first thing in the morning for the shortest line (note it is also super cool in the dark, so don't be afraid to book that late FASTPASS as well).
- Get the popular treats early or late to avoid the crowds (i.e. The Adorable Snowman Frozen Treats or Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums).
- Hop into the Blue Sky Cellar preview center to see some cool models and drawings of what’s to come at Pixar Pier and Disney California Adventure (hint: Superheroes).
- Plan ahead for getting a good parade or fireworks viewing location.
- It will be challenging to watch Together Forever Fireworks and Paint the Night the same evening, so try to plan for two different nights. If you cannot swing two nights, watch the Paint the Night Parade at Disney California Adventure near the beginning of the parade route first, and then hop over to watch the fireworks at Disneyland as soon as the parade ends.
- If viewing Fantasmic!, watch Paint the Night, hop over to Disneyland to watch fireworks and then hop in place for the 10:30 p.m. Fantasmic! show. This is only for experienced fast movers who can move well in crowds. Now that's doing it all!
- For an easy exit after the parade, watch Paint the Night on the side of the street between The Little Mermaid and Goofy's Sky School near Paradise Gardens. After the parade, walk behind the parade viewers to The Little Mermaid and make a left to take you past Grizzly River Run towards the park entrance. You'll exit the park before the parade finishes in Hollywood Land.
Our Disneyland Pixar Fest Guide should have given you a little taste of all the fun — plus a few tips! The biggest strategies involve deciding which nighttime entertainment to experience and which parades to watch (including scoring that perfect viewing location). During the day you can try new foods, meet some characters, shop and basically have fun in the Disney Parks, which is always easy to do.
In the meantime, be sure to check out more tips to maximize your time at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.