Celebrating Pixar at Walt Disney World
Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Finding Nemo…the list of those rapid-fire releases of the ‘golden era’ Disney/Pixar films like these is without a doubt a thing of the past. From the 1990’s to mid 2000’s, the back-to-back releases of now-famously beloved films drove fans to the box offices of movie theatres in droves; making the films somewhat of an anomaly for animated flicks. I was growing up when these films were coming out, and on my most recent trip to the Parks, I was feeling a big nostalgic for the good old days and decided to take a walk through the Cars garden at Fresh Epcot.
My little walk opened my eyes to a hugely obvious fact that I- and most Disney/Pixar fans- have seemed to overlook: those golden era films are not only alive, they are thriving all around Walt Disney World Resort! It’s not extremely obvious, but if you know where to look, you’ll find loads of Disney/Pixar-themed merch and so much more…it’s almost as if no time has passed in 15 years! I was so inspired by what I found across the Resort that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to start a brand new article series, Celebrating Pixar. Rev your engine, because we’re headed to Radiator Springs for the first lap in the series!
Race to Find Your Favorite Car!
This year’s Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot was grander, greener, and more flavorful than ever before; so much so that I could have spent an extra 3 days exploring the Fest without running out of foods to taste or topiaries to discover. The Road to the Florida 500 was just one of the awesome live greenery topiary gardens on display. Featuring Lighting McQueen and his pals, the line to pose for photos with the world’s fastest racecar’s flowery likeness proved the films’ multi-generational appeal!
The latest Disney/Pixar Parks hype is completely focused on the opening of the upcoming Toy Story Land. The existing monkey-in-a-barrel adorned area includes Toy Story Midway Mania!, a meet and greet area for Woody and Buzz, and a shop selling Toy Story merch. Although the construction walls are still up for Toy Story Land, I ventured to the back of the park to try to sneak a few glimpses of the progress to no avail, but what I did find was an unexpected race car waiting to meet me! Cruz Ramirez is making a pit stop right next to Midway Mania, so race on over to Hollywood Studios for your finish line photo!
Art of Animation
The be-all, end-all tribute to Cars is located on the shores of Hourglass Lake at the Art of Animation. An entire, stand-alone wing of the resort hotel is revved to welcome guests itching to burn some serious rubber in the parks before making a pit stop for the night in an adorably-themed hotel room. I took a tour of the resort on my most recent visit to Walt Disney World and spent most of my time in the Cars section. I put on the brakes and took my time looking around. I’m a huge fan of the film and being able to walk right up to the Cozy Cone Motel brought out an inner childhood fangirl I never though I’d see again! Check out the photos we captured along the raceway:
Merchandise Worthy of the Piston Cup
With all of the Cars tributes I was finding around the Resort, it wasn’t long before my need for some merchandise kicked into high-gear. My favorite stops for Cars merchandise are: Ink and Paint Shop (Disney’s Art of Animation), World of Disney (Disney Springs), Mouse Gear (EPCOT), The Emporium (Magic Kingdom). In each of these stores, I found enough Cars branded merchandise that even Mac would have a hard time hauling home- you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for! I personally love the Cars-themed squishy toys- what Cars branded items will you pick up on your next visit? Let me know in the comments!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!