Pixar Place Hotel Grand Opening

The Transformation of a Hotel – How Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Became the Pixar Place Hotel

This last week the Pixar Place Hotel officially opened at the Disneyland Resort. Formerly known as Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, this hotel has seen quite the transformation that goes much further than just new paint colors. This hotel now has a story when guests enter and an experience that draws inspiration from the stories that the Pixar Animation Studios have told through the years.

On the opening day of Pixar Place Hotel, Daps Magic had the opportunity to sit down with some of the people who brought this hotel to life. This included Kirstin Makela, Art Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, and also Tasha Sounart, Pixar Theme Parks Creative Director. During the conversation that took place in the Creators Club (the Concierge Lounge at Pixar Place Hotel), I asked the question about how this magnificent transformation happened as they took a known hotel and turned it into this celebration of Pixar that were were experiencing.

Kirstin led off by answering this question. She said, “A lot of it really comes down to what can we do to provide our guests with a new and exciting experience. And really try to create a place for them to create new memories with their family and friends. This truly is the first Pixar hotel that we’ve done domestically, which is really exciting, because it allows us to provide a space for Pixar fans from generations around the world to have a new place to create memories, specifically knowing that Pixar is such an intrinsic part of people’s more true passion or animation.” She continued and shared that the goal was to “provide a space that’s truly dedicated to them.”

This all comes through collaboration. In this case, the collaboration was primarily between Walt Disney Imagineering and the team at Pixar Animation Studios. For Kirstin, this meant working a lot with Tasha Sounart. She shared how rewarding this collaboration was and that they were ” able to find ways to really celebrate the creative process behind the Pixar animated films.”

Walk around the hotel and the Creators Club and there are many magical examples of the creative process behind the Pixar films. This isn’t just a museum though, it is a vibrant experience that brings to life these stories in new and different ways. Sometimes in ways that have never been seen before!

This was done through a very intentional decision to highlight the combination of both art and technology that is found in Pixar films. Tasha shared that throughout the hotel, guests will “see a lot of motifs that represent the technology of Pixar, so like, pixel kind of designs or geometric shapes like polygon shapes. And all of that was meant to represent the technology side of Pixar.

Technology is only one part of the equation, however. Tasha shared about the artistic side. She shared that right alongside the technological representation there will also be “concept art and things that you might have seen from like, you know, the art of books, that kind of concept art, but then I also really wanted to showcase a lot of the process of making Pixar films that maybe you haven’t seen as much, you know, like you haven’t seen so much of like animation thumbnails more like the wireframes downstairs like showcasing like when the characters actually go from a sketch to being built in the computer.” The hope was that this would show people things that were new and different from how Pixar films are made.

There were also stylistic choices made, Tasha shared. The overall decision was to make the hotel “very modern, but also not a duplicate of Disneyland Hotel. So we didn’t want it to be like Mid-Century Modern, exactly, but also have it feel modern and clean. Because that’s also part of what kind of the Pixar aesthetic.”

This is also a hotel that will continue to grow and evolve in the future. Kirstin shared how “Pixar really is the innovative animation studio that’s always pushing forward.” This helped guide the decisions that were made about the hotel. The teams decided that this should be a space that “will evolve and continue to adapt to new stories, especially knowing that there’s such amazing content coming down the pipeline.” While this isn’t a museum, Kirstin did acknowledge that they did consider how the space could be treated almost like a “rotational gallery so that we can always celebrate the new films and the new characters.” She continued and said, “You never know what the new characters are going to be that someone is really going to love.”

Kirstin added one more thought as they wrapped up the discussion about the transformation of this hotel. She shared that they are really excited about how “guests can really start to create this space as their new home, their new destination that isn’t a resort, and then continue to look towards like all the amazing new representations as films come out.”

The Pixar Place Hotel is now open for guests to experience the magic of Pixar Animation Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. There are many magical offerings to be found throughout the hotel, in its room, the dining options from Great Maple, and appearances of Joe Gardner (Pixar’s Soul) and Bing Bong (Pixar’s Inside Out). This is a transformation that changes the look, the feel, and the story of this hotel at the Disneyland Resort making it an exciting new destination for guests.

What do you think of the transformation of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel into Pixar Place Hotel? What do you think of the thoughts that were shared by Kirstin and Tasha about this transformation? What do you like the most? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!


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