Lets start with the first things you'd encounter upon arriving at the parks for the day. The signs above the turnstiles, the banners in the esplanade, bunting on Main Street and Buena Vista Street, and the monorails. The bunting looks good, it doesn't scream "Pixar" and is a nice set of colors for the spring and summer. The banners at least all have the same artistic style, but personally something doesn't feel quite right for being Pixar characters. The signs above the turnstiles are a mixed bag. I really like the Inside Out and Incredibles ones, but the Toy Story one leaves an awkward feeling due to not using any of the core characters from the trilogy. As for the monorails, so far only monorails Orange (Incredibles) and Blue (Finding Nemo) have been revealed. These feel tacky, but the visual style on the Nemo wrap is at least not an eyesore.
A nice surprise is that the Blue Sky Cellar has reopened for the first time in years now featuring a preview of Pixar Pier (not even kidding when I say this is the second time the pier has been featured in the Blue Sky Cellar due to the 2010-2012 retheme to the 20s Victorian pier). I am glad that it is back though it is kind of funny seeing different versions of the concept art that are more tasteful and less obnoxious than wat is actually being built (I'm looking at you Senor Buzz Churros).
Now lets take a look at Pixar Play Parade, which for some reason is now running in Disneyland park after a decade in California Adventure. Wen they announced this at D23 last summer they said it was because Paint the Night as moving to DCA, and these are now the only 2 parades running, there is no daytime parade in DCA right now. Now before I get into the changes to the parade I'm going to give you my ranking of the various parades from the past year at the resort:
1. Paint The Night
2. Frightfully Fun Parade (Halloween Parties)
4. A Christmas Fantasy
5. Main Street Electrical Parade
6. Pixar Play Parade
As you can see Pixar Play was already my least favorite parade at the resort and that was mostly because it is a DECADE old and is stale. Don't get me wrong, it is a fun parade with a great artistic design (thanks to Jody Daily) and great music. And usually I get excited when Disney adds something new to a parade so that it can be refreshed. But I do have an expectation that if the original people still work for the company that they be brought in to design the new units and come up with the new music... This clearly didn't happen this time as the new floats don't look anything like the original floats and the new music doesn't even come close to blending in as if original and therefore really takes you about of the moment wen you hear it. Here are the 3 new units that were added for Pixar Play Parade being in Disneyland.
And here are the original floats.
And here is the first version of an Inside Out float from when it was a pre-parade unit. compare the 2 and notice how the original float actually would have fit in with the rest of the parade instead of looking like it didn't belong. Also the new float is based on Bing Bong's death scene which is so tasteless "Hey kids, remember this scene from Inside Out were Bing Bong sacrifices himself to save Joy and Sadness?". I'm guessing the original float had already been scrapped for something else, because otherwise why not use it.
Paint The night has returned after a lengthy hiatus after the 60th anniversary celebration. I absolutely love this parade and am so glad it is back. The only changes I've noticed are: Frozen is out because the float was too tall to fit under the Trolley wires, and the Little Mermaid float as adjusted to fit under the wires. From what I can tell nothing else has changed. Also there will be a fun new Incredibles float joining the parade when Incredibles 2 comes out in June.
And now we get to Together Forever, the brand new Pixar fireworks show. I was skeptical but optimistic based on a few teases Disney gave like that Buzz Lightyear would be on Tinkerbell's wire and then later the Up house would also be on the wire. I also love the Coco portion of the show. That said, I personally think they should have used "Remember Me", the most popular song from the movie, instead of "The World Es Mi Familia". As individual segments most of them work with one exception being the second Toy Story segment... the scene from Toy Story 3 when they are all about to be burned in the incinerator at the dump, such a tasteless choice and all to utilize the fireballs that were first installed for the Indiana Jones section of Remember Dreams Come True. The overall show feels like a clunky mess and not well planned out at all and is no better than the sum of its parts.
So how would I rank it compared to the fireworks shows from the past 12 months:
1. Remember Dreams Come True (nothing has topped this yet)
2. Halloween Screams
3. Believe.. In Holiday Magic
4. Together Forever
5. Celebrate America (4th of July)
6. New Years Eve
Final thoughts on the event as presented so far (pre Pixar Pier's opening) would be that its an ok event but still fails to hit the mark. It for some reason doesn't give Merida/Brave any attention, not in either parade, not in a fireworks segment, nor even bringing back the old meet and greet featuring her brothers. Disney is saying this is the first Pixar Fest which worries me that this might come back in the future without significant upgrades and retooling things to actually make sense as a cohesive event. I also think Luxo Jr and the Pixar ball are featured way too much considering how many characters/franchises were practically ignored (Brave, Ratatouille, and Good Dinosaur)