For the first time in several years, Pixar Fest is back!

The event is back again at Disneyland Resort and began activating on April 26 and will run through Aug. 4. Pixar projects are represented in many offerings, from classics including Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles, Coco and Cars. And now, the new iteration of the fest has elements from new films such as Turning Red, Soul and Inside Out 2. The elements are a part of programs including Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration! Parade, Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular, Club Pixar (at Disney California Adventure Park) and Pixar Pals Playtime Party (at Disneyland Park).

“So, Pixar Fest is a huge project for us,” said Tasha Sounart, Theme Park Creative Director at Pixar Animation Studios. “And we had a Pixar Fest originally in Disneyland Resort in 2018. For this one, we thought this was a really great time to bring back Pixar Fest because it’s been a while and we’ve come out with a lot of films since then. We’ve come out with Luca, Turning Red [and] Soul…lots of fun stuff that hasn’t really been seen in the parks before. And so this is an opportunity to celebrate some of those new films. [For] the fireworks show, we were able to add some new scenes, we were able to do some original animation at Pixar, and we improved that fireworks show. We brought some new characters for the parade.”

She continued, “[It was] a lot of fun to collaborate on what these characters are going to look like and how everyone’s going to see them and hear the music. The music’s really awesome, [as well as] how it blends with the music of the parade.”

Photo: Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

A new film that has a key role in Pixar Fest this year is Inside Out 2. “Obviously we wanted to bring back joy and sadness, some of our favorite characters from [the first] Inside Out,” Sounart teased.” There is actually a very small cameo of Inside Out 2 in the fireworks show at the end to keep an eye out.”

Turning Red also has a big presence. “One of the true joys of my job is to work directly with our colleagues at Pixar,” said KC Wilkerson, the Principal Media Designer at Disney Live Entertainment. “And we had this idea that we wanted to really lean into Turning Red. [The movie] shows up in two moments in the show. And in one of those we wanted Mei from Turning Red to be able to run down Main Street in facade and projection and to be able to transform from her panda self into her Mei-self. We thought, ‘Well, how the heck are we going to do that?’ Well, as it turns out, we have Pixar. And we approached them. They were very excited about the idea and really jumped into collaborating on that scene and ended up doing all of the custom character animation for that show. So, you’re seeing the hand of Pixar artists in the show, which I think is just incredible.”

Photo: Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

“Once we knew we were going to bring the show back and we wanted to feature the new films, we dove into those films…and we couldn’t choose,” Wilkerson explained. “We thought, ‘Oh wait, maybe we’ll take this character from this film…this character from that film.’ [Then,] we decided, ‘You know what? Just we’re going to do all of ’em.’ We’re going to do Luca, we’re going to do Elemental, we’re going to do Soul, we’re going to do Turning Red and we’re going to do Onward…and we’re going to bring those characters into the show.”

He continued, “Originally the idea was that we were just going to add the new characters to the old show,” Wilkerson explained when talking specifically about the breakdown of the show. “The more we dove into it, we’re like, Yyou know what? We really need to do something a little bit different.’ And we decided to sort of break the show apart in little ways and add in the new characters to our appropriate chapters. Because remember, Together Forever is a story and it’s about meeting new friends. It’s about taking those friends and setting out on adventures. And it’s about overcoming adversity together. And that is what allows us to form everlasting bonds. So, we wanted to choose moments from the newer films that really reflected the overall story that we were trying to tell. And we also realized that since 2018, we have, on the technological side, we’ve added new projectors to a number of our locations.”

Pixar Fest is featured throughout the resort at  Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park and the Downtown Disney District.