Last night Disney invited the media to preview Pixar Pier, which is opening to the public tomorrow June 23. The “star” of the rethemed pier is The Incredicoaster. Much like the rest of Pixar Pier, The Incredicoaster is a rethemed version of an attraction that has been at Disneyland’s California Adventure Park since it opened in 2001. The original coaster was called California Screamin, and it didn’t have much of a “story”. It was the centerpiece of a land themed to a Victorian era boardwalk, with the coaster weaving throughout the land. It gave the land a very kinetic feeling, plus it was fun as hell.
The entire pier has been receiving a Pixar retheme over the past year, and it’s almost ready to open. So what’s the verdict? Well, as far as The Incredicoaster goes, they have done the absolute bare minimum. Have I been on the attraction itself? No, but outside of a cookie smell effect, I don’t really see what else I would learn by riding it. Watch both videos for yourself and compare the attractions. They put motionless maquettes, not even actual animatronics, throughout the ride and they’re calling it a story. There is a sequence that has Jack Jack multiplying, and they threw Jack Jack Kebabs in there. To throw salt on the wound, there was originally going to be an enclosed section of track at the end for a finale that Disney kept under wraps. Well, I guess we know why they were keeping quiet about it because it’s not even in the final attraction. It looks like the budget on this retheme was cut a handful of times.
Now I don’t necessarily blame Walt Disney Imagineering for all of this. They’re trying to do what they can with the orders they’re given. This entire lands retheming reeks of commands from executives. For the past 2 years, this has been the trend with Disneyland. Last year they rethemed their Tower of Terror to the Guardians Of The Galaxy, which strategically opened around the time Guardians Vol. 2 released in theaters. This year, the Incredicoaster is opening a week after The Incredibles 2 hits theaters. They looked at their Hollywood summer release schedule and did some backwards engineering to open an attraction tied to a movie release. There’s a reason we’re getting Toy Story land this summer, the fourth movie arrives next year.
From a pure business perspective, I get it. Reskinning already built attractions to successful movies is fast, cheap, and pretty popular with your average guest. My problem with this strategy is that they are taking over well established attractions that don’t need any TLC. Tower of Terror and Paradise Pier did not need any help, they were already popular. Giving the budget to these attractions ends up neglecting other parts of Disney Parks.
* A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that last night was the guest preview event. The guest preview event is tonight, June 22. Thanks to @kryptonlogic for pointing it out!