Yesterday, Disney’s Hollywood Studios park at Walt Disney World celebrated its 30th Anniversary. When the park first debuted in 1989, it was named MGM Studios and it would be years before Pixar released its first feature film, Toy Story. Now, Pixar enjoys a large presence at the theme park, with several of the most popular rides being Toy Story-themed. In line with the Studios’ anniversary celebration, Disney unveiled its new logo and it is clear that Pixar will be a significant part of the park’s brand identity for years to come.
Although some industry watchers expected Disney to announce a new name for the park, given its dramatic shift away from its original theme of filmmaking at a studio, Disney signaled the new era of Hollywood Studios with concept art of the new logo above. Pictured are three characters, each from a different segment of the Disney company, that will represent what the park has to offer – Woody, Mickey Mouse, and BB-8. Of course, with the gargantuan addition that is Galaxy’s Edge opening in the late summer, a Star Wars character in the logo was inevitable. Mickey has consistently been a part of the park’s identity, most widely seen in the large Sorcerer Mickey hat structure that used to tower over everything in its path (it was removed in 2015). Also, next year, a Mickey-themed attraction will be taking over the park’s signature building. The third character in the logo, Woody, is also a logical choice to be present at the park’s entrance, as Toy Story Land has driven crowds to Hollywood Studios since the land opened last year.
The addition of a Pixar character to a logo of a park, the first we have seen from any of the Disney Parks around the world, signifies the ever-increasing importance of Pixar to the theme parks. On the west coast, Disney California Adventure recently re-opened its boardwalk area, transforming it from a brand-less part of the park to Pixar Pier, where every attraction, restaurant, snack cart, and gift shop is themed after a Pixar film or character.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios also marked the anniversary with the debut of a new nighttime projection show, Wonderful World of Animation, that contains homages to several Pixar films, including Coco, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo. We will likely only see Pixar’s presence grow across Disney’s theme parks in the coming years. If we know anything about Pixar, it is that it has a knack for creating instant classics with memorable characters. Coco is the most recent example. I have seen the film numerous times and it brings me joy whenever I see references to its characters or story. Disney understands that potential park-goers connect with the film and we will, without a doubt, be seeing much more of Coco in the parks in the near future.