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Fans Have Had Complaints About Recent Hotel Upgrades. I'm Here To Tell You That Disneyland's New Pixar Place Hotel Is Exactly What We've Been Waiting For

 Pixar Place Hotel exterior sign.
Pixar Place Hotel exterior sign.

When you visit a Disney theme park, you have to stay somewhere, and all things being equal, it’s always more fun to stay on property. After experiencing all the best rides at Disneyland, your Disney experience can continue at your hotel; assuming, of course, that the hotel is well-themed. Recent hotel renovations at Disney World, as well as the new Villas at the Disneyland Hotel, have been met with some derision from fans who felt that the rooms, while they might have been nice, were not “Disney” enough. I can tell you that the Pixar Place Hotel at the Disneyland Resort does not have this problem.

While only about half of the full hotel has been renovated as of this writing, I was lucky enough to spend the night at the new Pixar Place hotel in one of its newly-renovated rooms, as well as experience more of the new hotel, and I have to admit that I'm sold. I usually only see Disneyland hotels as a place to keep my stuff while I'm visiting the parks, but Pixar Place has me rethinking that opinion. Everything about the place screams Pixar, but without losing the feeling that you’re staying in a luxury hotel.

Pixar Place Hotel Reception art
Pixar Place Hotel Reception art

The Hotel Is Bright, Colorful, And Welcoming, Like a Pixar Movie

Pixar Place won me over almost from the minute I walked in. The lobby of the vast majority of hotels I have ever visited, and there have been many, has been dim. Lights are kept low. These are serious places designed to be taken seriously, especially resort hotels where people go to be treated like they are special.

Recent Disney Hotel renovations have focused on updating them to make the rooms modern, but at the expense of the theming. I like the modern look generally, but I don’t disagree that the charm can get lost when the focus goes too far in that direction.

But Pixar Place is immediately different. It's bright, colorful and feels modern, but Pixar is still everywhere; that charm is not lost. It feels like a place you have come to have fun. But it’s also not specifically geared to children like the Legoland Hotel I recently stayed in. It never feels like this is a hotel that is designed for kids. They will enjoy it, to be sure, but so will Disney Adults who are treating themselves.

Walk in the front door and a massive Luxo Jr. immediately greets you. The reception area is backed by massive pieces of art showing off the heroes of various Pixar films. The pillars contain glass cases showing off maquettes of the Incredibles, Monsters Inc., and more.

The cafe and the restaurant are nearby. There is Pixar-themed art on the walls at every turn. I found myself wandering the lobby and the halls just looking to see what I could find. The elevators have state-of-the-art controls (though the elevators themselves are not as new and were clearly having some issues during my stay). The public spaces are just lovely, but they’re nothing compared to the rooms.

Pixar Place Hotel room mural
Pixar Place Hotel room mural

Pixar Place Has The Best Themed Rooms At Disneyland Resort

As of this writing, the Pixar Place Hotel is only half renovated. I walked out of the elevator on my floor and was met with the starkest contrast in a hotel I had ever seen. The hall went in two directions. To the left was the old hotel: worn, dim and, to be honest, dull. To the right, was light, color and warmth.

Upon opening the door, the Pixar lamp on the desk was, on its own, enough to make me fall in love with the room. The lamp was bolted down. I checked because I wanted to take it home.

The bed sheets have Luxo balls in the design. The Pixar lamp is on the carpet under the beds. The back wall had a massive piece of art showing off scenes from different Pixar films. These are not still frames, but artistic renderings of these moments. Some are so true to the Pixar source they are hard to distinguish from a frame of the film, others are more unique and fresh.

And to be sure, my room, which was provided by Disneyland, was not anything unique or unusual. It was the standard room, though one side of the hotel does give you a view of Disney California Adventure's Pixar Pier that the other side does not. It’s not massive and spacious, but everything that is there adds something to the experience of the room.

Joe Gardner playing piano at Pixar Place Hotel
Joe Gardner playing piano at Pixar Place Hotel

Exclusive Character Experiences Take Pixar Place To Another Level

Character experiences are key to making a trip to a Disney park special for a lot of people, and if this is you, then Pixar Place is the hotel for you. There are characters that you’ll find at the hotel that you won’t find anyplace else at the Disneyland Resort.

Bing Bong from Inside Out made his official debut at the grand opening celebration for Pixar Place, and he will be available daily on the pool deck lawn. I got to meet the imaginary friend up close on his first day meeting people, and he is truly an impressive character.

But my favorite character experience is much less assuming. Joe Gardner from Soul plays the piano in the lobby of the Pixar Place hotel five nights a week. There’s a decent chance that while you’re checking in, he’ll be playing for you, and if you want to talk with Joe, he will want to hear about you and your dreams.

Joe Gardner is an example of the way that Pixar Place takes things to another level. Every Disneyland Resort hotel has a piano player that adds to the atmosphere of the hotel, but odds are you’ve never paid them much attention. This piano player will get noticed because he’s a character we know and love.

Pixar Place Hotel splash pad
Pixar Place Hotel splash pad

Pixar Place Is Already Becoming My Favorite Hotel At Disneyland Resort

The rooms at the Grand Californian and the Disneyland Hotel are nice, so there’s nothing wrong with them. But if you were dropped inside one without knowing where you were, you might not realize you were standing in a Disneyland hotel room.

Part of the focus for these other hotels is luxury. The Grand Californian Resort and Spa has a lobby that will take your breath away. It has the best fine-dining restaurant in the resort that doesn't cost $25,000. The Tenaya spa at the Grand Californian will pamper you to whatever degree you require.

But Pixar Place gives you a Pixar experience. It makes you smile at every turn. For people who don’t want their Disneyland experience to end when they leave the parks, the Pixar Place Hotel has that covered.