Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, one of Disneyland Resort’s three Disney-owned-and-operated hotels, officially reopened as the Pixar Place Hotel on Jan. 30. The grand opening of the 15-story tower revealed a stunning transformation that, despite having been completed gradually without ever fully closing to guests, managed to surprise and surpass expectations for even those who, like me, have been following the updates closely.

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When the switch officially flipped to unveil the first fully Pixar-themed resort in the U.S. in all its reimagined glory, the reveal was jaw-dropping.

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A colorful new lobby with an iconic centerpiece, guest rooms so new and improved they’re nearly unrecognizable from their prior state and exciting first-of-their-kind character debuts all came together to seriously impress on opening day. The hotel, the least expensive of the three at Disneyland, suddenly feels much more worthy of its $400-plus nightly price tag. Here’s a first look inside Disney’s Pixar Place Hotel.

Exploring the Pixar Place Hotel theme

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A welcome booklet in guest rooms calls Pixar Place Hotel “a living gallery celebrating the art of Pixar at every turn.” The hotel includes nods to every single Pixar feature film, highlighting the creative process in varying stages throughout the property.

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During the opening-day dedication, Pixar Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter described Pixar Place Hotel as a space where Pixar storytelling is brought to life. “It’s like walking into a world of Pixar,” Docter said. “It’s truly immersive, and we’re thrilled to have collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineering to make such an experience possible for guests.”

Pixar Place Hotel location

Pixar Place Hotel is located on Disneyland Drive, across from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and just a few minutes’ walk to the Downtown Disney District.

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The gates of Disneyland Park are a solid 10-minute walk from the hotel, but guests get a major park-access perk — Pixar Place Hotel guests get their own dedicated path and entrance into Disney California Adventure Park. Most times of the day, it takes less than five minutes to get from inside the hotel to inside the park — including the time it takes to move through the dedicated security checkpoint.

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This private entrance, almost directly across the street from the hotel and accessed with a room key, enables Pixar Place Hotel guests to bypass the main security lines and park turnstiles, significantly reducing the time it takes to start the day at Disney California Adventure Park. The entrance leads directly into the park, between Corn Dog Castle and Seaside Souvenirs.

To visit Disneyland Park, guests can make the roughly 10-minute walk or take the monorail from Downtown Disney into Tomorrowland inside the park.

In addition to the on-site dining offerings we’ll cover later in this article, Pixar Place Hotel is an easy walk to Disneyland Resort’s other on-site hotels, many restaurants and the Downton Disney District’s wealth of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Setting the stage: The front entrance and lobby

Pixar Place Hotel has both a grand front entrance and a busy rear entrance regularly used by guests parking in the hotel’s garage. Both showcase the early stages of the Pixar creative process, but the main entrance delivers the wow factor.

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Guests entering the lobby from the main entrance are greeted by a giant Pixar Lamp balanced atop the Pixar Ball. While the duo, first introduced in the 1986 Pixar short “Luxo Jr.,” are “iconic to Pixar Animation Studios,” their pose is “brand-new to our hotel,” said Walt Disney Imagineering Art Director Kirsten Makela. The pose is used in the hotel logo and throughout all branding and collateral “because it really is a signature to our space,” Makela said.

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Makela described the space as “a celebration of the start of the creative process.” Overhead, a whimsical mobile featuring Pixar characters in their earliest stages of animation as rough, interlocking shapes in their primary colors hang beneath a huge skylight. The mobile represents early creative ideas “swirling and coming together,” Makela said.

A dynamic, multicolored lighting package is synced to new music created exclusively for the hotel. The 10-song soundtrack, available on major streaming platforms, features contemporary instrumental interpretations of iconic Pixar songs. By day, natural light streams through the hanging characters, making them more prominent. By night, the shifting colors of the lighting program are the stars of the show.

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The building’s exterior also gets an impressive nighttime lighting treatment — after dark, the hotel is bathed in bold shades of red, yellow and blue.

Moving farther into the lobby, artwork featuring central characters from some of Pixar’s most famous films is encased in illuminated frames that twinkle subtly when the background music from the featured film plays.

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More art will be discovered throughout the lobby, from murals and signs to character maquettes and even unexpected objects like a sofa “bounding” as Heimlich, the caterpillar from “A Bug’s Life.”

With so many details at eye level, you’d be forgiven for forgetting to look down — but trust us, don’t! Hidden within the flooring are 16 small character silhouettes. We suggest challenging yourself to an informal scavenger hunt to find them all.

The back entrance

Guests who enter from the parking garage at the back of the building are still greeted with a beautiful illuminated entry and sliding doors featuring famous Pixar Pals Mike and Sulley and Buzz and Woody. Doors slide open to bring the friends closer together, and — another fun detail — blue and yellow panes overlap to turn Mike green when the doors open.

Entering from the back takes you along a different creative journey inspired by the early stages of Pixar’s animation process. Along the walls of this entry, wall art showcases the stages of character design development.

Guests can see examples of this process, reproduced from the work of real Pixar Animation artists, for characters including Edna Mode, Buzz Lightyear and Remy. The process starts with pencil sketches and illustrations and then moves into computer wireframe models built before textures, colors and additional refining details are added.

Pixar Place Hotel rooms

Each floor of the tower is set apart by a different wall mural at the elevator bank. Guest room hallways feature an accent color that complements that mural. For example, my 13th-floor hallways were green and featured a “Monsters, Inc.”-inspired mural.

Standard rooms

The majority of the hotel’s 489 guest rooms are a standard room type, sleeping up to five guests in either one king-size bed and a queen-size sleeper sofa or two queen beds and one day bed. Theming and decor are largely the same in these rooms, with variations in wall art and layout depending on whether the room is a king or two-queen. Bathrooms can also vary, offering either a bathtub and shower combination or just a shower.

Standard rooms are also differentiated at booking by view type — Standard View with a view of Disneyland Drive or the Parking Area or Preferred View, with a view of the resort or Disney California Adventure Theme Park.

Guests familiar with Disney’s Paradise Pier’s guest rooms will find the new PIxar-themed rooms downright unrecognizable. These updated rooms are sleek, spacious and modern — but also unmistakably Pixar, with colorful character-filled artwork and bold nods to the Pixar Lamp and Ball.

Some themed details are obvious: bolster pillows prominently feature the Pixar Ball’s star design on the ends. The primary color scheme of red, yellow and blue can be seen in the blue curtains and rug, red sofa and yellow walls.

Others are hidden in plain sight, like subtle white Pixar Balls that occasionally dot the bedsheet pattern, and the rugs include a more abstract take on the Pixar Lamp.

Artwork over the headboard showcases iconic Pixar characters in an ombré of warm to cool hues, an homage to the impact color has on the emotional tone of a scene.

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Perhaps the most charming detail: every guest room gets its own Luxo Jr.-inspired desk lamp.

Standard rooms also include a minifridge, single-cup coffee maker, ceramic and disposable coffee cups, stemless glassware, an ice bucket and adorable Pixar Ball coasters. There’s also a safe, ironing board, alarm clock, hair dryer, phone and plenty of USB and USB-C charging ports.

The sleek, modern bathroom is mostly white, with just a few pops of color from the Pixar Ball in the artwork. Shampoo, conditioner and body wash are dispensed from red, yellow and blue dispensers with Pixar Place Hotel branding. Additional bathroom amenities like a shower cap and shaving kit also come in Pixar Place Hotel-branded packaging. In the bathroom, guests will also find a cozy robe bearing a Pixar Place Hotel logo.

King rooms have a queen-size sofa bed and my two-queen room had a twin-size sofa bed. To convert the bed, rather than fold out like a traditional sofa bed, the seats essentially flip upside-down to reveal a single mattress. This means the mattress is a full, solid mattress that doesn’t need to fold up.

Despite traveling alone, I actually opted to test out the sofa bed my first night. For context, I’m 5’10” and fit comfortably on the twin-sized mattress. It was already made with sheets, and I added a pillow and two blankets from the extras stored in the closet. The mattress was firmer than the beds but smooth and comfortable since it’s a full mattress that doesn’t fold up — nothing like the flimsy mattress on a traditional sofa bed that leaves you feeling bars poking into your back.

While I didn’t mind the sofa bed, after a very long day, diving into one of the comfy queen-size beds was heavenly.

The sheets felt softer than the standard Walt Disney World hotel sheets I’m used to. The pillows were plush, the mattress felt like the perfect midpoint regarding firmness and I remember thinking I’d never been so comfy when my very early alarm went off for the airport.

Another thing I loved about the room was the desk. Some new Walt Disney World rooms I’ve stayed in recently haven’t had desks, and as someone who does a lot of work in my hotel room, I really appreciated the formal desk here. It also brought me an extra smile to work under the lamplight of my own personal Luxo Jr.

Club-level rooms

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Later this year, a new concierge lounge on the hotel’s second floor will open to club-level guests. Creators Club celebrates the collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Pixar Animation Studios, showcasing nods to Pixar attractions in Disney parks around the world, including attraction posters, maquettes, concept art, models from rides like Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, a snake ride vehicle from Jessie’s Critter Carousel and a light fixture from A Bug’s Land.

When the space opens, concierge-level guests can take in the details while enjoying drinks and snacks included in the cost of their stay.

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Rooms with club (concierge)-level service are the same size and layout as the standard rooms described above and are available in Standard View, Preferred View and Pool Terrace. They include access to the Creators Club and its food and beverage offerings, concierge assistance and nightly turndown service. Pool Terrace rooms are on the third floor and provide patio access directly to the third-floor pool deck and all of its recreation offerings.

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Suites

For larger families and parties, there is also a range of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites.

Pixel Suites are poolside and include a patio with access to the third-floor pool deck. One-bedroom Pixel Suites sleep up to four adults. Two-bedroom connecting Pixel Suites sleep up to nine adults, and three-bedroom connecting Pixel Suites sleep up to 14 adults. Connecting suites also include a kitchen and living room area.

Sketch Suites have a view of the parking area and sleep up to four adults in a one-bedroom suite or nine adults in a two-bedroom suite.

Additional unnamed one- and two-bedroom suites are also available with a range of views and with capacities varying from six to 10 people. Guests are advised that the size of their booked party will determine their suite size.

2-bedroom signature suites: Coco Suite and Incredibles Suite

Later in 2024, the hotel will debut two new two-bedroom signature suites. The Coco Suite will be themed to Pixar’s “Coco,” adorned with Oaxacan art and celebrating Miguel’s family legacy. The Incredibles Suite will feature midcentury design and decor with plenty of Parr family details and what Disney is calling a “spy-fy” twist.

Entertainment abounds at Pixar Place Hotel

New characters

Pixar Place Hotel has debuted two new characters — Bing Bong, Riley’s lovable imaginary friend from “Inside Out,” and Joe Gardner, the jazz musician protagonist from “Soul.”

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Debuting for the first time worldwide, Bing Bong will meet hotel guests daily on the third-floor rooftop near the pool, weather permitting. Hours won’t be published online, but guests hoping to meet him should expect to find him during the daytime hours and can get more information from hotel cast members.

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In a dedicated space in the hotel lobby, Joe Gardner will chat with guests as he tickles the ivories five days a week on select days and times. He plays in a purple-hued alcove adorned with drawings of jazz musicians and counselors from “The Great Before.” On the days he’s performing, expect to find Joe during the afternoon and evening hours.

Pools and recreation

A sprawling third-floor deck is the hotel’s outdoor recreation hub. The Pixel Pool is a simple rectangular pool surrounded by comfy chairs, bright umbrellas, shaded lounge areas and colorful posters from the Pixar film “Luca.” Private daybeds, cabanas and pods are available to rent for the day. There’s also a hot tub next to the pool.

The Pixel Pool itself is pretty basic, but there are still plenty of thrills to be had courtesy of Crush’s Surfin’ Slide, a 186-foot waterslide inspired by the EAC, aka the East Australian Current that Crush loves to surf. Like a waterslide on many cruise ships, the slide doesn’t drop into a pool, making it easier for parents to watch and help kiddos without getting wet.

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Nemo’s Cove, a “Finding Nemo”-themed splash pad starring Hank the septopus, gives littles a huge space to splash and play.

When Anaheim evenings are too chilly for pool time after sunset, four different lounge areas surround fire pits themed to Pixar’s most “inflammatory” characters, like Anger and Ember.

The Pixar Shorts Court provides plenty of other dry activities on the third-floor pool deck, themed to PIxar shorts. Play “Bao” Toss into the steamer basket or a stellar game of “La Luna”-inspired shuffleboard.

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Players are encouraged to use their imagination in spaces inspired by “For the Birds” and “Burrow.” You can also dine under the lovestruck umbrellas from “The Blue Umbrella” and play a game of chess at one of several tables inspired by “Geri’s Game.”

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The hotel’s rooftop has long been a hidden gem for viewing Disneyland’s fireworks, but an elevated space has now debuted with a fireplace and plenty of dedicated seating to watch the show. The soundtrack accompanying the fireworks is also played in sync with the show.

Fitness center and spa

A second-floor gym includes all the basics to squeeze in a workout, including treadmills, ellipticals, a rowing machine, a handful of weight machines and free weights. A wall mural inspired by “Monsters University” features Mike and Sulley on treadmills. Towels and water are also provided.

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For spa services, guests can visit the Tenaya Stone Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, located just across the street.

Pixar Place Hotel dining

The hotel introduces three new spots for food and drinks, all operated by Southern California Great Maple restaurant group. The flagship table-service restaurant, Great Maple, A Modern American Eatery, is located just off the hotel lobby. The bright open-air space offers a variety of indoor and outdoor seating options and serves elevated comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My favorite dish I tried from the all-day menu was the Portobello Mushroom Fries ($21). Battered and seasoned with Parmesan and red pepper flakes and served with a basil pesto aioli, these “fries” have a satisfying, meaty texture, with none of the excess liquid you sometimes get with portobello mushrooms. I’d go back just for these!

Another favorite was the Famous Maple Bacon Doughnuts ($18 for three). These giant, pillowy donuts have a cult following. I’m a vegetarian and didn’t try the bacon doughnut, but one bite into a vegetarian cinnamon-dusted version fresh from the kitchen, and I understood the hype. These are huge and filling, so definitely plan to share.

Another favorite among Great Maple regulars is the Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich ($26), served with cabbage slaw and melted white American cheese and slathered in hot honey aioli. This received rave reviews from meat-eating colleagues.

I also sampled an excellent vegetarian option, the VBLAT ($26). This plant-based take on the popular Great Maple BLT is made with maple chili portobello “bake-on” (they seriously know what they are doing when it comes to portobellos here), arugula, tomato, vegan cheddar and smashed avocado on toasted Levain bread. This sammie is satisfying but also felt very veggie-forward, light and healthy — the kind of dish you might crave after too many theme park treats.

This third-party restaurant definitely feels the least “Pixar” of any of the hotel’s new spaces, with only subtle nods via artwork around the restaurant, but it’s a really pleasant space, and I’d absolutely return. (For the ultimate Pixar-themed table-service meal, be sure to grab a reservation at Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure. It’s my favorite restaurant in all of Disneyland Resort!)

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Also in the lobby, The Sketch Pad Cafe serves grab-and-go pastries, coffee and tea and a selection of packaged sandwiches and snacks. The spacious seating area is decorated with a timeline of Pixar films showcased through evolving character designs.

Opening in early March, the Small Bytes pool bar will serve snacks (“Lyte Bytes”) and more substantial dishes (“Mega Bytes”), taking inspiration from 1990s-era Southern Californian childhood favorites with dishes like pizza bagels and a SoCal Fruit Cart seasonal fruit selection. On the wall, check out the 22 pixel-style portraits of Pixar characters.

Retail

The hotel includes one gift shop called Stor-E, a nod to the Pixar film “Wall-E.” Here, you’ll find Disneyland Resort- and Pixar-themed souvenirs, including Pixar Place Hotel merchandise. The shop also sells a limited selection of snacks, beverages, basic health and personal care items and over-the-counter medications.

How to book Pixar Place Hotel

You can book a room at Pixar Place Hotel directly with Disney or through an authorized Disney vacation planner.

You can also use fixed-value credit card points and miles from programs like Capital One and Bilt Rewards to pay for a room here. You can also potentially save money by booking a stay using discounted Disney gift cards.

Because Disney room rates are always fluctuating according to demand, it’s difficult to establish a consistent average price. However, spot checks on various dates showed the following price ranges:

  • Standard View Room: $405-$594 per night
  • Standard View Club-Level Room: $583-$846 per night
  • Premium View Room: $492-$729 per night
  • Premium View Club Level: $684-$997 per night
  • Pool Terrace Club Level: $666-$922 per night

Some suites don’t have availability and prices viewable online and direct interested guests to call, but spot checks identified the following ranges for these published rates:

  • 1-Bedroom Suite: $1,028-$1,310 per night
  • 2-Bedroom Suite: $1,290-$1,660 per night
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In addition to the exclusive access for Pixar Place Hotel guests to Disney California Adventure and hotel-exclusive characters, Pixar Place Hotel guests, along with Disneyland Hotel and Grand Californian guests, also get early entry into a designated theme park each day of their stay 30 minutes prior to regular park opening and preferred access to a limited number of advance dining reservations at select table-service restaurants.

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The bottom line

Walt Disney World regulars often try to assign the same pricing tiers used on property in Orlando — value, moderate and deluxe — to Disneyland Resort hotels. While it’s true that historically, the three hotels (Pixar Place Hotel, formerly Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel; Disneyland Hotel; and Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa) are all consistently priced in ascending order from least to most expensive, Disneyland Resort doesn’t use those categories.

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Although Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel prices had consistently started at around $400 per night of late — certainly not “value” pricing — the accommodations left much to be desired and felt “value” tier. This is no longer true. My room at Pixar Place Hotel was on par with or exceeded the caliber of many Deluxe resort rooms at Walt Disney World.

I was wowed by the new theming and attention to detail throughout the hotel, and impressed with the added hotel-branded amenities and special touches like hotel-branded chocolates on the pillows, bathroom products, coffee condiments, room keys, pens and stationery. I was also thrilled by the addition of two new, unique character experiences added exclusively to this hotel. These details coalesce to set a hotel apart in memorable ways — and Pixar Place Hotel stuck the landing.

Each of Disneyland Resort’s hotels has its strengths — I love the Grand Californian for its location, breathtaking lobby and excellent table- and quick-service dining.

I love the Disneyland Hotel for top-notch lounges and bars, and my favorite Disney Vacation Club rooms to date (that you can book with owned or rented DVC points) are at the Villas at Disneyland Hotel. Pixar Place Hotel has the fewest restaurant and lounge options of the three, but there are so many others within striking distance that that doesn’t bother me.

So with the lowest prices of the Disneyland hotels while still offering a phenomenal location, on-property perks and “deluxe”-feeling rooms, Pixar Place Hotel might just be the Disneyland “value” we were looking for.

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