Disney’s first Pixar-themed hotel in the U.S. is officially open, and it’s like stepping into a behind-the-scenes Pixar featurettes. Disneyland visitors can now stay right across the street from Disney California Adventure Park at the newly renovated Pixar Place Hotel (formerly the Paradise Pier Hotel). We got a look inside during a press tour for the grand opening.
The relatively plain exterior of the hotel doesn’t do the rest of the hotel justice. Once you step inside, you’ll find modern finishes, tastefully curated artwork, some reimagined areas for play, and, of course, little details that will delight Disney enthusiasts.
That delight doesn’t come cheap, though. Most nights at Pixar Place Hotel start around $400 or more, and this is usually the least expensive of the three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland. And that’s not including the self-parking fee of $40 per night or the theme park tickets.
So what do you get at the Pixar Place Hotel for the price tag? Here’s what you can expect during a stay.
The Pixar Place Hotel is walking distance from Disney California Adventure Park. Hotel guests actually have their own private entrance to the park across the street from Pixar Place Hotel, hidden near Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
You’ll need your hotel key to enter and exit the gate. After you pass the ticket scan and security, the path spits you out in Paradise Gardens Park. The private entrance is perfect for watching the nighttime water show, World of Color, and then making a quick exit back to the hotel.
Downtown Disney, the shopping and entertainment district outside of the theme parks, is also within walking distance and offers easy access to the Monorail to ride into Disneyland.
The lobby is designed to showcase Pixar’s animation process, starting from the simple, geometric shapes in the mobile above the lobby’s centerpiece. The larger-than-life lamp balancing on the Pixar ball is instantly recognizable when you walk through the front door.
This atrium space within the lobby has a mobile of Pixar characters that catch the light from the skylight above. A pleasing custom soundtrack created for the hotel plays in the background, and the lights in the atrium are timed to dance along to the tunes.
The lobby is also decorated with sketches of Pixar characters, showing how earlier depictions progress into computer wireframes. You’ll even find clay models and other concept art throughout the check-in area.
Kids will love finding the 16 character silhouettes embedded on tiles in the lobby.
One of my favorite touches is the character cameo of Joe Gardner from the movie “Soul.” On certain afternoons, a real life Joe will play jazz music on the lobby’s piano and even interact with some of the guests who pass by.
The guest rooms at Pixar Place Hotel are modern and colorful in a way that would appeal to both adults and children.
The focal point of each room is the mural of Pixar art above the bed. There are controls, too, to adjust the mood lighting behind the bed. The more subtle theming elements include a pattern of the Pixar lamp on the carpet (homage to a design used at Pixar’s Emeryville, California, headquarters) and the Pixar ball printed onto the bedsheets.
The standard rooms also have a bright red couch across from the beds that can turn into an additional twin-size or queen-size bed. It’s perfect for a family that needs the extra bed space.
Next to the couch and opposite from the beds is a desk, TV, closet and minibar, as well as a mini version of the iconic Pixar lamp on the desk.
Depending on which side of the hotel you’re on, you can get some great views overlooking Disney California Adventure Park or overlooking the pool and parking lot. Some of the third floor (Club Level) rooms facing the pool also have a patio.
The bathrooms are upgraded, and should be more than adequate to wash off a day of theme park roaming.
Overall, Pixar Place Hotel has done an excellent job making the rooms flexible enough for multiple people. The standard room sleeps five adults. The one-bedroom suite sleeps up to six adults and the two-bedroom suite can accommodate 10 adults. There’s even a three-bedroom suite that can fit up to 14.
There are also two special signature suites coming later this year, one with a “Coco” theme and the other with an “Incredibles” theme.
The rooftop pool deck is actually on the third floor, and it has plenty of spaces for guests to play outside of the room.
There’s a large pool with cabanas and pods on the side to rent, and a small hot tub.
Right next to the pool is a splash pad that’s entirely “Finding Nemo” themed, complete with water jets, a succulent garden playing the part of a coral reef and custom seaweed light fixtures.
Crush’s Surfin’ Slide is sizeable for a hotel water slide, and will send kids flying down the EAC, or East Australian Current, from “Finding Nemo.”
If it’s too cold for water activities, there’s also an outdoor seating area with fire pits. Each pit is shaped like one of the Pixar characters that has fire for a head, like Ember from “Elemental” and Anger from “Inside Out.”
Speaking of “Inside Out,” there’s another character from the hit movie that’s making his debut at Pixar Place Hotel. At certain times, kids will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Bing Bong, the pink elephant from “Inside Out.”
The Pixar Shorts Court is another place to play outside on the third-floor rooftop. It has some games painted onto the ground that are based on some beloved Pixar short films, like a “Bao” toss and “La Luna” shuffleboard, but kids will probably use their own imagination and make up their own games for this space.
If all this playtime makes you hungry, there’s a poolside cafe nearby called Small Bytes, which will open in March 2024.
Plus, you also can watch the famous Disneyland fireworks without the theme park crowds from this rooftop. The soundtrack is piped in, too.
In addition to Small Bytes, there’s a quick-service cafe off the lobby called The Sketch Pad that serves coffee, tea and pastries.
The full-service Great Maple restaurant is also on the ground floor. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and the menu is full of American comfort food like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and the signature maple bacon doughnuts.
Final thoughts on Pixar Place Hotel
Disneyland’s newest hotel definitely makes a splash. The Pixar Place Hotel leans into the art and technology of animation, and it generally pulls it all off without making Pixar’s primary colors of red, yellow, and blue look too childish. In fact, this is one of the most modern-looking Disney accommodations I’ve seen with the rounded-edge furniture and light wood paneling.
The proximity and private entrance to Disney California Adventure is the biggest draw for me. Hotel guests get early access to the theme parks and won’t have to wait in long lines to enter the park from the private entrance, so travelers can truly maximize their time at Disneyland.
Featured photo by Meghan Coyle.