Step aside Mickey. Keep your lightsaber in off mode, Darth Vader. Attractions are on the way featuring the Star Wars gang, Mickey Mouse, and other notables from Disney's vast empire, but it is the Pixar stars that will hog the spotlight this year at the company's theme parks.
Andy's backyard will come to life when Toy Story Land opens June 30 at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Disney California Adventure, meanwhile, will devote an entire land to the computer animation studio's films. Disneyland will join its sister park in a resort-wide celebration of the beloved brand when Pixar Fest kicks off this spring.
The existing Toy Story Mania, one of Disney World's best rides, will be annexed into Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The new area aims to capture a similar sense of whimsy and offer the detailed place-making found in the Imagineers' ode to another Pixar property, Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. The conceit will be that, upon entering Andy's yard, visitors will shrink down to the size of Mr. Potato Head, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of his toys. The land represents a major component of the resort's overhaul of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is set to open next year at the park (as well as at Disneyland in California), will be a highly anticipated addition. CEO Bob Iger has said that the evolving park would likely be getting a name change.
Disney parks 2018 preview
A new family coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, will wind throughout the area. Its trains will look like the Toy Story canine, complete with cars fashioned as his coiled springs. The land's third attraction, Alien Swirling Saucers, will place riders inside the Pizza Planet's arcade crane machine. Passengers will weave between two turntables on the spinning ride. A new quick-service eatery, Woody’s Lunch Box, will look like the toy sheriff's lunch pail and Thermos. Instead of slightly sour milk, ice cream soda floats will be on the menu.
Starting Memorial Day Weekend, The Incredibles superhero family will commandeer Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom and present a dance party. (Corporate synergy alert: Incredibles 2 opens this summer.) Over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, a revamped bird show will incorporate Russell and Dug from Pixar's 2009 hit, Up. Epcot, which will be the future home of a Guardians of the Galaxy ride, will welcome characters from the film series who will perform selections from Star-Lord's "Awesome Mix Tapes" in a stage show.
Disney Springs, the resort's free-admission dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, continues its massive expansion. Recently opened or soon-to-open venues include: The Edison, a steampunk-ish bar and restaurant that offers quirky entertainment such as contortionists and aerialists; Wine Bar George, which will pair small plates with a vast array of wine; and two Italian eateries, Maria & Enzo's Ristorante and Terralina Crafted Italian.
The virtual reality walk-through experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, is now open at both Disney Springs and at the Disneyland Resort's Downtown Disney. Participants wear VR headsets, assume the roles of Stormtroopers, and engage in an interactive mission. Among the new establishments coming to Disneyland's Downtown Disney district later in 2018 will be Ballast Point, a brewpub that will make and serve the craft brewer's beers and ales along with Southern California fare. Splitsville Luxury Lanes, a chain that combines ten-pin bowling with food and drinks, is also on the way (Disney Springs already has a Splitsville) as well as an outpost of Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, which will serve its signature burgers and candy-topped milkshakes.
Disney California Adventure's Paradise Pier will lose its lovely Victoria-era seaside amusement area vibe and be re-themed as Pixar Pier. This year, the existing California Screamin' roller coaster will get rebranded as Incredicoaster, inspired by— Synergy alert number two—The Incredibles. Future Pixar Pier makeovers and additions will draw on Inside Out and Toy Story.
The entire Disneyland resort will be Pixar-lated with special Pixar Fest entertainment. A new fireworks and projection show, Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular, is slated for Disneyland. It appears that it will be similar in concept and scope to the hyperactive and marvelous Disneyland Forever that the park presented during its 60th anniversary a few years ago. Like that show, pyrotechnics, lasers, and lights will be choreographed to animated scenes projected onto Main Street U.S.A. shops, Sleeping Beauty Castle, the "it's a small world" show building, and water screens on the Rivers of America. In this case, the scenes will all feature Pixar characters, of course.
The Pixar Play Parade debuted at Disney California Adventure, but it will march across the plaza and return to Disneyland. Characters from Up, Inside Out, and other films will participate when the refreshed procession makes its way down the hallowed park's boulevards. Another 60th anniversary presentation, Paint the Night, is returning, this time to Disney California Adventure. The next-gen Main Street Electrical Parade will use 1.5 million dazzling, computer-controlled LED lights to illuminate and animate floats themed to movies such as Monsters, Inc., Cars, and Toy Story. Pixar Fest will kick off on April 13.