Pixar Place Hotel. Photo by Jill Weinlein
The reimagined colorful Pixar Place Hotel celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 30, 2024, as the first fully Pixar-themed hotel in the United States.
The 15-story hotel located directly across the street from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, also overlooks Disney California Adventure Park.
Filled with the artistry of beloved Pixar characters developed at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA, guests will enjoy an immersive journey about how their favorite Pixar movies and short films were created. Every room of the hotel and areas outside are filled with color, design and sound.
Iconic Pixar Lamp and Ball. Photo Jill Weinlein
Kristin Makela is the Art Director, Walt Disney Imagineering helped with the creative vision of the hotel. In the center of the soaring lobby is the iconic Pixar ball and lamp.
‘This atrium space offers inspiration of joy to guests with light, color, energy and sense of wonder,’ said Makela. ‘Look up to see an abstract character mobile floating from the skylight above.’
Guests can also see the house and balloons from the Pixar movie ‘Up’ travel up and down the lobby elevator.
Joe Gradner of Pixar’s ‘Soul’. Photo Jill Weinlein
Guests walking from the parking structure into the hotel from the rear entry will appreciate the immersive art, color and sound experience as soon as the sliding doors open.
Walt Disney Imagineering took great care of the rear entry lobby, ‘This lobby is where the majority of guests enter to start their Pixar Place Hotel journey,’ said Megan Cerda, Senior Graphic Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering. ‘The walls display stages of character design development, as the artists ideas from a pen and paper sketch continue to the finished character.’
Some characters come to life, such as Joe Gardner from ‘Soul’. He plays his favorite jazz songs in the ethereal alcove next to the stairs. Not only does he tickle the ivories, he welcomes guests with a nod and shares stories while performing.
This area is where character sketches designed by Pixar animators are featured on the walls. ‘These hand sketches are made into lit 3-D wireframe characters that are displayed in large frames. This is how the artists rig the character design in the computer models,’ said Cerda. ‘The progression continues as guests step into the lobby. They will see fully rendered Pixar characters.’
Guest Bedrooms at Pixar Place Hotel. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Take the elevator up to the third floor to the Pixel Signature Suite. Walking into the bedroom, the headboard features a mural of colorful Pixar art. This invites guests to follow the cool to warm rainbow color motif featuring their favorite characters.
‘Each frame is an ‘ah-ha’ moment in the character’s journey and story,’ said Tami Empero, Interior Design Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering. ‘It is lit from below the chair rail. Dim the lights at evening and leave it on for a nice night light effect.’
Other Pixar touches include a fun pop of color on the bed with a lumbar pillow and crisp white bedspread with the iconic Pixar ball hidden in the design. ”The rug in the bedroom features the iconic lamp motif. After Disney Imagineers saw this design at Pixar Studios in the elevator, they were inspired to include the lamp in some of the floor coverings,’ said Empero.
Kitchenette in the Pixel Signature Suite. Photo Jill Weinlein
Every kitchenette in the Pixel Signature Suite offers an island with stools, microwave, refrigerator, service ware, sink and a special art cabinet featuring a beloved Pixar character.
Also in every room is a Pixar coffee table book for guests to enjoy looking at while staying at the hotel. It is sold at Stor * E downstairs to display on your coffee table at home.
Pixel Signature Suite Bath Tub. Photo Jill Weinlein
There is a deep soaking bathtub in the Master en-suite with whimsical bubble tiles on the wall. There is also a large shower, double sinks, plush bathrobes, and Disney bath amenities.
Pixel Signature Suite. Photo Jill Weinlein
These suites have their own floor to ceiling windows leading out to their own private patio with a gate leading to the pool and Nemo’s Cove waterpark. Nearby is a grassy play area, Small Bytes Cafe, lounge with fire pits, and evening fireworks viewing sites.
The Pixel Signature Suite can be reserved as a one bedroom suite with a king bed and one sleeper sofa for four guests. For larger groups they can reserve a two bedroom connecting Pixel Suite offering one king bed, two queen beds and one queen-size sofa, plus one day bed to accommodate up to 9 guests.
Pixar Place Hotel Pool. Photo Jill Weinlein
The pool area has been reimagined from when it was the Paradise Pier Hotel. Guests may choose to rent private daybeds, cabanas and pods to lounge the day away in comfort and style.
According to Jason Laurence, Senior Programs Manager, guests can take a ride on the towering Crush’s Surfin Slide. ‘Crush is at the top of the slide framed with grape seaweed effects and lighting,’ said Laurence. ‘What makes this rooftop play area interesting, is this wet area with thousands of gallons of water in the pool are on the third floor above the ballroom and offices. It was a challenge, but we pulled it off.’
Nemo’s Cove. Photo Jill Weinlein
The ‘Finding Nemo’ splash pad in Nemo’s Cove has Hank the octopus as the central character with his tentacles wrapped around different water effects.
According to Bryan Garrene, Senior Landscape Architect, Walt Disney Imagineering, the background has different colorful and fun coral pictures offering a pop of color and excitement. ‘What makes this area unique is the succulent landscape evokeing an underwater ocean coral feel,’ said Garrene. ‘The custom made light fixtures in this area are intended to look like seaweed with bubbles migrating their way up to the surface.’
Great Maple. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Guests will want to stay on the property for a meal at the flagship restaurant Great Maple. It’s a modern American eatery serving creative all-day menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Amanda Ho, Co-owner and CEO is excited to be a part of Pixar Place Hotel. She shared that among the sophisticated ambiance and comfortable green leather booth seating, there are black and white portraits of Pixar characters on the walls. ‘This is the first time this artwork has been publicly displayed’ said Ho. ‘It was originally created for the Pixar offices in Emeryville, California.’
Signature dishes served include Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Soda Pop Ribs enhanced with Coca Cola syrup, Portobello Mushroom Fries, and Maple Bacon Donuts.
Guests can also sit on the front open-air dining patio overlooking Disney California Adventure and a parade of Disney guests.
The Sketch Pad Cafe. Photo Jill Weinlein
Amanda Ho also mentioned that Great Maple is operating two other food and beverage cafes at the hotel.
Next to Great Maple Restaurant is The Sketch Pad Cafe with a full espresso and coffee bar, assorted pastries, coconut chia yogurt parfait and overnight oats.
They also offer comforting grab-n-go Balances Boxes with garlic hummus and pita bread, vegetables and a hard boiled egg. Other snackable boxes include meat, cheese and crackers. It’s an ideal spot to stop at before or after a day in the parks.
Guests also bring their laptops down here to work in this colorful and fun space. On the walls there is a timeline of Pixar films conveyed through character design. View early concept art from ‘Toy Story’ superstar Buzz Lightyear to Mei Lee from “Turning Red.”
At certain times, guests can participate in a ‘Learn to Draw’ session at The Sketch Pad Cafe.
Outdoor fun at Pixar Place Hotel. Photo by Jill Weinlein
The third eatery is Small Bytes serving creative menu items such as Limoncello floats, fresh ceviche, pizza bagel bites, fruit kabobs and yogurt. On the wall of the cafe there are 22 pixel-art style portraits of Pixar’s famous characters. Lightning McQueen from “Cars” and Remy from “Ratatouille” and Woody from ‘Toy Story’ are som favorites featured.
There is also a fireplace with relaxing seating behind the cafe that is ideal in the evening for a nightcap while viewing Disneyland’s fireworks on certain evenings.
Closer to the pool is a lounge area with four fire pits shaped to resemble some of the most popular hotheaded Pixar characters. This is another great place to watch the fireworks light up the sky.
Searching for Pixar Characters. Photo Jill Weinlein
Throughout the lobby and elevator flooring, there are 16 silhouettes of Pixar characters randomly embedded in the porcelain tiles. This is a nod to the flooring details found at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. Families enjoy roaming around the hotel trying to discover all of the characters throughout their stay.
Private Pixar Place Hotel Gate. Photo Jill Weinlein
According to Allie Kawamoto Choy, Hotel Experience Integration Manager there is a secret entrance into Disney California Adventure for only Pixar Place Hotel guests. It’s one of the many perks guests receive while staying at Pixar Place Hotel.
‘Our guests have the opportunity to enter the park 30 minutes before the general public. You can really do and see a lot in 30 minutes inside the park.’ She recommends waking up early, grabbing a coffee at the downstairs The Sketch Pad Cafe, and heading over to enjoy the empty park. ‘If guests get tired, it’s convenient to come back to their room or suite for a nap,’ said Choy.
Located directly across the street is an exclusive private gate entrance. A Pixar Place Hotel key card opens the gate for guests to walk along a garden pathway. Bags are checked and park tickets are scanned right before guests enter Corn Dog Castle inside the park.
Pixar Plave Hotel
She also recommends for guests to participate in morning sunrise yoga inside Disneyland Park. ‘Only 20 participants can reserve this experience to start their day and see what Disneyland Park looks like without any guests,’ said Choy.
Pixar Place Hotel weaves contemporary design elements inside and outside from the lobby floor to the rooftop pool deck. Prices vary depending on the season and day of the week.