Over the past few years, Disney’s licensing deal with Build-A-Bear has produced everything from bears based on High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Jonas Bros., Wizards of Waverly Place to outfits involving princesses, Toy Story, Cars 2 and Winnie the Pooh. The Downtown Disney location in Anaheim, California has even been known to have exclusive outfits. However, there is a new line of animal clothes being released at three different points this summer and based on the classic Disney villains: Ursula, Captain Hook, Cruella DeVille and Maleficent.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new afternoon parade full of Pixar friends. The new parade, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade, replaces the previous parade, Pixar’s Block Party Bash. While the Bash was a combination of procession and street performance, Countdown is a traditional parade like the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade held at the same time in the Magic Kingdom. New characters have been added, but some characters are missing from the new spectacle. The look of the event is also lacking.
Countdown’s new characters are Bullseye, Carl, Russell, Dug and Remy. However, there are characters missing from this parade that were previously in Bash: the Green Army Men, Mr. Potato Head , Needleman and Smitty. Bo Peep had already been replaced by Lotso last year. While it’s fun to see the characters, the fast pace of the parade doesn’t allow for a lot of interaction. This is fine for the characters that can be found elsewhere for photos and hugs, but what about the characters that can’t be found anywhere else? Disney doesn’t have a character meal containing Pixar characters as they do with the classic characters or princesses. The format of Bash allowed for more interaction. Guests could pick their favorite film, stay in a certain area and get close, personal attention from those characters. The parade format doesn’t allow for that. Characters can hug or take photos with about one child per block.
The absence of the Green Army Men is felt the most. Bash made them the emcee of ceremonies. They spoke directly to the audience and characters, commanding them to action: scream, sing, dance, and stand on one leg. They supplied a lot of the humor that’s missing in this parade. Countdown has a nameless voice introducing the festivities. Dancers try to get the crowd excited but it’s not the same without the street festival feel. Gone are the surprise guests and extras, like streamers. There are no free souvenir balls thrown into the crowd or Scream-O-Meter to compete with the other side. The few scooters left behind don’t seem to have a purpose and there are no longer any hula hoops. With such limited interaction with the crowd, the characters don’t react to each as they did in Bash. They’re too busy working the crowd while Lotso never even leaves his float.
Most of the floats for Countdown are recycled from Bash. The secret doorknobs and compartments are still visible although they remain closed. Since their floats are the same, Mike Wazowski, Buzz Lightyear and Heimlich remain little more than lifeless props, turning in half circles. Heimlich is the best looking of the three since he appears to have more articulation. How is it that Disneyland’s Pixar parade has a full body Buzz and this one doesn’t? The music should have been recycled from Bash because Countdown’s music is very repetitive and unmemorable unlike the wide variety of radio hits Bash contained. There also aren’t as many imaginative outfits.
Disneyland’s Pixar parade is being redone for a debut later this year which will incorporate Cars 2. While it seems doubtful they would include the cars in a parade at Hollywood Studios, Disney needs to do better for the next Pixar parade. It needs to include the best of both parade ideas. There should be plenty of characters, perhaps on a rotating basis but allowing enough time for the floats to stop and interact with the guests. There needs to be a mobile Buzz and catchier music with more audience participation. Pixar’s Block Party Bash was the best of the Walt Disney World non-holiday parades. Pixar Pal’s Countdown to Fun! is a poor imitation.
What do you think? Do you like the new parade? Is there a character you want a photo with but they’re not available? Would you pay for a character meal?