Take a ride on the Incredicoaster at Disney's new Pixar Pier

June 21, 2018, 5:08 PM · Pixar Pier opens to the public on Saturday, but we got a first look at the new Disney California Adventure land this evening during Disney's media preview.

Our first stop? The Incredicoaster. Come along for our on-ride POV video.

Yep, it's the same ride as the old California Screamin'. Disney has enclosed the sound shields and made them into show tunnels for the ride, which follows the superhero Parr family's attempt to retrieve its youngest, Jack-Jack, after he bails on Edna Mode, who also was too short to go on the ride.

Jack-Jack shows his polymorph's superpowers throughout the ride, including laser eyes, fire, and multiplying. And his siblings and parents do their best to protect us while luring Jack-Jack back home, including bribing him with his favorite Cookie Nums Nums, which we smell briefly at the end of the second tunnel.

California Screamin' was probably more kids' first "upside down" coaster than any other such ride in Southern California. The addition of these show scenes should help more parents of hesitant early-elementary kids to convince them to make the step up to this "big kid" coaster. The scenes give fans of California Screamin' something else to look at during what's always been a fun, if unspectacular, ride.

Do ride near the front, though. The back seats remain uncomfortably rough, made worse by the bulky and unnecessary over-the-shoulder restraints. I wish Disney had invested in more comfortable modern trains when it remade this ride. The speakers for the on-ride audio also needed a boost, as they are inaudible at times. Why spend the money on a new musical score if we can't hear it?

I also am left wondering what could have been if Disney had chosen to push into new projection technology with this ride. The static figures inside the tunnels are nice additions, but what if Disney could have employed some nifty new projection tech and animated these scenes instead? (Update: Animatronics in the tunnels would not work, for reasons that Russell Meyer details in the comments.)

I always liked the Commerson's dolphin animation that SeaWorld San Diego used to have on the vertical lift for its Journey to Atlantis ride. That was a slow moving lift, and animating a high speed coaster tunnel is a wildly more difficult challenge. But if anyone could pull that off, I feel that Walt Disney Imagineering could give it a go. The Incredibles are all about action, and I want to see more than static characters when I am rushing by them on a high-speed adventure.

But don't mistake that wistful regret for a rejection. To me, Incredicoaster is a nice upgrade from California Screamin' — just as Pixar Pier represents an upgrade from the old Paradise Pier. This always was the most troublesome land in California Adventure — a land themed to the old timey amusement parks that Disneyland pretty much relegated to popular insignificance with its immersive theming. If anyone still felt any nostalgia for those types of attractions, they're probably older than Carl Fredricksen at this point.

Pixar, however, is one of the world's most powerful entertainment brands. It's not just beloved by kids, it's beloved by a lot of young adults and parents who grew up with and have been enjoying these films for two decades. Throwing a Pixar skin on the pier gives it new life and a welcomed kick of fun.

Unfortunately, Disney didn't do itself any favors by not having this new land completed when it opened to the media and the public. The Toy Story-themed Jessie's Critter Carousel won't be ready until next year. Disney hasn't even announced a date for the Inside Out spinner ride that it is widely tipped to be reskinning from It's a Bug Land. (Update: It dropped the news on Friday.) The Bing Bong sweet shop remains behind construction walls. The incompletions rob the land of flow and energy, undercutting the whole point of the refurbishment.

But, at some point, Pixar Pier will be complete. And, given how many people love these franchises, I'm sure that affinity will extend to this land — just as Disney is hoping.

Next: The food of Pixar Pier.

Replies (33)

June 21, 2018 at 5:21 PM

I only wished that they would have painted the rusted parts of the track while it was down. It definitely makes the ride feel un-kept.

June 21, 2018 at 5:35 PM

As expected, incredibly underwhelming. I look forward to the rest of your review.

June 21, 2018 at 6:04 PM

Wow! Amazingly unincredible. Glad I didn’t spend $300 to see that early.

June 21, 2018 at 6:12 PM

I was expecting more animation with the figures. I know you zip by really quickly, but why not project animated faces on the characters for a modicum of Disney quality?

As it is, the whole thing relies heavily on the dialogue to tell the story, and that just equates to noise and more noise as characters scream plot points at you.

June 21, 2018 at 6:51 PM

I must say, I was quite underwhelmed after watching the video of the Incredicoaster. I was hoping there would be actual animatronics vs figures. They really slacked the Edna Mode VIP scene. I thought this would be a detailed animatronic, but instead, it’s a creepy looking figure. Nice to see some scenery, but really doesn’t feel much different from Screamin’. This looks pretty half-hearted vs Mission: Breakout

June 21, 2018 at 7:51 PM

It’s the exact same ride as California Screamin’. I was hoping they would include more characters from The Incredibles. Thur should have slowed down the ride a little bit, in order to see more animation of the characters. I still look forward to seeing it for myself in August.

June 21, 2018 at 8:36 PM

Well, that's kind of disappointing, just some static figures placed around the track? If this is the anchor to the 'new' Pixar Pier, I expect the whole concept to be a bust. I have a feeling that the $300 party goers will demand a refund. And what do we have to look forward to? Jessie's Critters-that-nobody-has-any-attachment-to Carousel and Flik's Inside Out Flyers? This may be a Light Tragic, er Light Magic size fail.

June 21, 2018 at 8:54 PM

For a movie that is breaking box off records and bringing in millions, that is the cheapest looking re theme I have seen in a long time, it was always a fun coaster though .

June 21, 2018 at 9:32 PM

God, how awfully cheap and tacky. Rare that I'm unimpressed with a Disney installation these days, but this is brutal. Flashback to the worst of the Eisner days. Can only hope this is temporary and they go back to Paradise Pier in a couple years.

June 21, 2018 at 11:15 PM

I don't see a Lamp on top of the Pixar Pier sign.

June 21, 2018 at 11:52 PM

This is almost as cheap an overlay as the painted flat characters of Disneyland's Motor Boat Cruise Thru Gummie Glen in the 1990s. No wait, it's better, because these are 3 dimensional figures. They're more like the Snoopy and Peanuts statues of Knott's Grand Sierra Railroad kiddie ride, only you go by them faster.

June 22, 2018 at 12:57 AM

It's always bugged me that the return to the station is riding into a blank wall. I can't believe they haven't done anything to address that.

June 22, 2018 at 1:04 AM

I'll wait until after I ride to judge it, but based on the video I'm perfectly fine waiting until my next visit to ride the Incredicoaster and don't feel the need for a special trip. By default, I guess it's an upgrade from California Screamin', but it's easily the weakest E-ticket on resort property.

June 22, 2018 at 9:54 AM

This is kind of what I expected from an overlay that was completed in a few months. Anyone expecting animatronics was really overestimating what can be pulled off over a very short period of downtime. Nonetheless, as Robert noted, I did expect some level of animated projection or LED screens in the tunnels (a la Hulk) instead of static displays and a few flashing lights. The soundtrack seemed pretty solid, but you could tell there were "hold queues" at each of the blocks instead of utilizing those sections to tell a more intricate story. There didn't appear to be another train ahead causing stacking, so I'm concerned with the long hold at the last block brake prior to the final helix. Typically trains would roll slowly through that block so the helix would generate some decent positive g's, but with the full stop and hold (and audio that appears to need a full stop to relay the entire segment), that last helix looks to be incredibly boring. Again, I'm not surprised that there aren't any animatronics on this with such a short turnaround, but you would think they could have been working on that control room scene at the end for 6 months or more behind a curtain or fencing while the ride was still operating as California Screamin' to be able to install something a little more dynamic considering that the trains roll by that area nice and slow as they approach the load/unload platform (reminds me a bit of the hut at the end of 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, except Disney actually uses animatronics there).

Again, this is pretty much what I expected from such a quick re-do, but Disney should have really tried to figure out a way to include some projections or screens in the tunnels that help tell the story in addition to the static figures.

June 22, 2018 at 9:22 AM

The multiple Jack-Jacks on sticks at the end of the ride are easily the cheapest thing Disney's done since the Primeval Whirl/Mulholland Madness/Goofy's Sky School “themed” wild mouse installations.

June 22, 2018 at 9:27 AM

But... But... 30 motionless Jack Jack figurines on sticks! :-/

June 22, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Darn, Miami beat me to it!

June 22, 2018 at 12:13 PM

AJ, this is not an E ticket, just like Grizzly River is not an E ticket. It's a D ticket, it was before and it is now. I don't even consider Little Mermaid an E ticket. The only true E tickets in DCA are Radiator Springs Racers and GOTG.

Russell, don't you have the animatronic pre-made, bring it onsite, and just plug it in and program it? Maybe I'm ignorant of the process, but that's what it seems like it would be, which could be done in 6 months. The flashing lights remind me of the last tunnel in Rocket Rods. Yes, I would have expected screens in those tunnels that they worked so hard to enclose, not just black walls.

June 22, 2018 at 12:53 PM

There's a lot more to animatronics than "plug and play". You have to build a platform for them, which on coaster tunnels probably would have required some serious engineering, and a lot of time, so no complaints with the lack of moving parts there. In addition to the mounting platforms, you need to power the figures somehow. Some are hydraulic, while some are pneumatic, and a few out there are powered by electric motors. For hydraulic figures, you need a reservoir and pumps to drive the individual hydraulic motors, while pneumatics require the installation of an air tank and hosing to all of the individual armatures. So, it's much more complicated, and typically something that could not be thrown together over a couple of months. So, I'll give Disney a pass for not putting any animatronics along the course of the coaster, but to not have any in that control room, which they could have been working on since last summer, is extremely disappointing.

I think any Disney roller coaster is considered an E-ticket. California Screamin' had turned into a "D-ticket" because of waning popularity, but it was always installed to be an E-ticket, and in fact was marketed as one of the park's icons when DCA opened.

June 22, 2018 at 1:40 PM

" I don't even consider Little Mermaid an E ticket..." in the words of Inigo Montoya, "I don't think it means what you think it means."

June 22, 2018 at 1:49 PM

The multiple Jack Jacks on sticks are horrific, destined to become Cheap Disney lore.

June 29, 2018 at 10:45 AM

The fact that the on-ride audio didn't hold when we stopped on the brake into the final block zone betrays a detail that Disney missed with this ride.

Yes, the new experience is... nice, but it is leaving a lot of fans complaining that it could have been so much better. It’s a tough time for the company right now from a PR perspective in Southern California, as politicians and union leaders are campaigning for wage hikes while hitting Disney for spending billions to acquire Fox and crowing that it can raise prices at will to the Wall Street Journal. Fans can feel caught in the middle of this, and don’t want to be ones who get the short end. They wanted to be wowed, and many weren’t. (Comment edited for clarity.)

June 22, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Well said Robert. Well said.

June 22, 2018 at 4:02 PM

There will be plenty of disappointing comments late tonight into tomorrow am from many who were silly enough to fork out $300.

Should have saved it for Star Wars VIP which I'm sure could be close to double per ticket.

June 22, 2018 at 5:22 PM

Although I haven't rode it in sometime now, the metro train that commutes through MD, DC & VA would have mini animated commercials and advertisements in the underground tunnels while the train was in motion. Although the train would average 35-40mph at the time, it was really neat to look out the window and see Lexus/Pepsi commercials/ads animated through lights. Wish they could've incorporated that engineering with this ride.

June 22, 2018 at 6:19 PM

Disfan, DCA has at least five E-ticket attractions: Grizzly, Guardians, Incredicoaster, Racers, and Soarin'. Very few would consider any of those less than an E-ticket, as they are all among the largest and most popular attractions at the park. Little Mermaid and Midway Mania are often considered E-tickets as well, but there's a little more ground for debate with those rides.

I think Robert is spot-on with this one. Incredicoaster is fine as is, but given what Disney has done in the past and what other parks in the area are doing, it really isn't enough to attract those who weren't planning to visit anyway. If you're going to charge $135 for a day, you need to offer an experience worth that, or people may opt to go check out the shiny new coaster at the $50 park just up I-5 instead.

June 22, 2018 at 6:56 PM

It just... Seems so underwhelming. Its like a Bush League park licensed some IP and slapped a few quick figures on it.

June 23, 2018 at 2:48 AM

AJ, the attractions you listed may be considered E tickets compared to what else there is in DCA, but not when you compare them to the E tickets in Disneyland. What I consider an E ticket is not just the scope of the ride, (your argument is that they're among the 'largest'), it's the level of theming and detail. On that scale, IMO Grizzly and Incredicoaster fall short. I don't dispute that they're fun and popular, IMO they're just not up to the standard of E tickets.

You cannot (well I guess you can) put Grizzly and Incredicoaster in the same level as Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. And if you think they're comparable to Pirates and Haunted Mansion, well I don't have anything else to say. Soarin is ok, but it's still just a high tech upgrade from Circle Vision. I would say that I would consider Grizzly an E ticket if they just added some cool animatronics, like the Country Bears.

Russell, thanks for explaining more about the animatronics. I still would have expected an animatronic Edna, and at least something more in the tunnels.

June 23, 2018 at 5:40 AM

Surely this would've been a prime opportunity for Disney to try a VR ride? The Incredibles IP lends itself well to the tech, and it would've completely hidden the coaster from riders' sight as well, allowing for a much more significant overhaul without much closure time.

I feel sorry for the imagineers who had to try and throw this together. Clearly the budget was infinitesimal.

June 23, 2018 at 9:10 AM

It wasn't as bad as I imagined, but its just California Screamin with a new paint job.

June 23, 2018 at 10:03 AM

Ummmmmmmm. I was willing to give Disney some slack assuming most of their creative teams were busy with Star Wars, but wow, they are so cheap now they can't even pay someone to paint over the rust for a "new" attraction?

Anyone else think the Jack-Jacks on a stick make this thing look like the Sky Glider at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? I know Disney is going for a seaside park theme here, but I thought they were supposed to hide the ugly parts like the ugly rooftops, not accentuate them!

June 24, 2018 at 12:06 AM

Let me let all of you in on a little inside stuff: DISNEY doesn’t design it’s own rides much any more. They buy rides “off the rack”. The Incredicoaster is one of them. Most of the rides in CA are off the rack...purchased from ride makers and not designed at Imagineering. Disney couldn’t/wouldn’t re-work any of this because they would have to go through so many steps and the cost would be prohibitive. They’re in to facade’s and environments. The rides are, so far, rehash.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

June 25, 2018 at 11:09 AM

@75.50.102.245 - Disney's not necessarily buying rides "off the rack", but Imagineers are collaborating with outside companies a lot more than they did when Disneyland first opened. It makes sense...Disney is not an engineering firm. They do have engineers on staff, and come up with patented ideas, but when it comes to actually putting those patents to use in ride systems, they usually leave that to companies that make rides for a living. Even iconic rides like Space Mountain and The Matterhorn were built by outside coaster firms with input from Disney Imagineers. Heck, Disney's not even using their own artists much anymore, subcontracting plaster and finish work to companies like Nassal and other sculpting companies.

Nonetheless, California Screamin'/Incredicaoster is not an "off-the-rack" ride. It was a custom installation that Intamin designed with input from Disney Imagineers. The on-ride audio system was completely Disney as well as the added blocking to increase capacity and load/unload efficiency was almost all Disney.

It's the same for virutally every theme park in the world. A park comes up with a concept (or sees something at IAPPA that they think will work for their park) and goes out to contractors to come up with a design that fits the space and project specs. Then, depending upon how much the park want to be involved in the overall design, they will make slight modification to fit their vision. Parks like Six Flags Cedar Fair, and to an increasing degree Sea World/Busch Gardens, take an existing or new ride design and add theming elements to make it fit the park. Parks like Disney and Universal are far more involved in the process, frequently altering the way a stock ride operates to better fit their project parameters. Is a ride like Incredicoaster more "off the rack" than Flight of Passage, sure, but it's still a pretty unique ride with lot of unique elements not found anywhere else.

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