All the way in the back of Disney’s California Adventure park in Anaheim CA — a solid ten-minute walk from the main entrance — sits an area that was once known as Paradise Pier. This land, located in a California-themed theme park located in California, is themed around… a theme park. 1 More specifically, it was themed around the classic seaside style of amusement park — originally mimicking the Santa Monica Pier, but later being slowly overhauled to match the Victorian style of seaside park that was common in the 20s. While the individual attractions of Paradise Pier were all fairly well-received, the redundancy of its theming was a persistent point of criticism for all 17 years of its existence.
In 2017, Disney resolved to do something about this, announcing yet another overhaul to the land, one that would drastically change its theme. As of June 23, 2018, Paradise Pier would become Pixar Pier, a land in a California-themed theme park located in California themed around a theme park… but now also Pixar. 2
The changes to the land were almost entirely superficial, even if they do look nice. The turkey leg stand became Poultry Palace, a second-tier fast food chain in the Toy Story universe. The ice cream stand is now run by Monsters Inc.‘s Abominable Snowman. 3 The boardwalk games, once based on Toy Story, Goofy, Dumbo, and… Make Mine Music, are now based on Toy Story, WALL-E, A Bug’s Life, and… La Luna?
The rides were changed as well. King Triton’s Carousel became Jessie’s Critter Carousel. California Screamin’ became the (decidedly worse) Incredicoaster. Even Mickey’s Fun Wheel became the Pixar Pal-A-Round, though the iconic Mickey face on the side of the wheel was thankfully allowed to remain. Only Toy Story Midway Mania was left untouched, for obvious reasons.
So why talk about this now? Because on June 28th, just over a year after the majority of the land was unveiled, Pixar Pier is finally complete, with the opening of its one promised brand-new ride based on Inside Out.
It’s called the Emotional Whirlwind.
The fact that construction on the ride was unable to begin until after the closing of DCA’s A Bug’s Land, which was home to the Flik’s Flyers attraction also pictured here, is surely a complete coincidence.
Also, it’s not called the Mood Swings, and therefore it is an abject failure.
Feel free to use this space to discuss all things theme- or amusement park!
Optional Discussion Question: What is the most successful retheming or reskin you’ve ever seen in a park? If you’re feeling cynical, what’s the least successful?