The Pixar Pal-A-Round is a 150-foot tall eccentric wheel attraction located in Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park. Originally opened in 2001 as the Sun Wheel, it was rethemed and renamed Pixar Pal-A-Round when Pixar Pier opened in 2018. This iconic ride offers guests spectacular aerial views of Pixar Pier and beyond from 24 swinging and stationary gondolas decorated with Pixar characters. With a ride duration of about 9 minutes, Pixar Pal-A-Round is a classic Disney ride experience suitable for all ages and thrill levels.
Pixar Pal-A-Round does not offer a single rider line.
Genie+ and Lightning Lane
While the Genie+ system does encompass a variety of attractions at Disney California Adventure, the Pixar Pal-A-Round was not included in the initial offerings for Lightning Lane access. Still, it’s always a good idea to check the current status via the Disneyland app or official website for any changes.
This attraction offers Rider Switch, a handy feature for guests with little ones who don’t meet certain attraction requirements or those who don’t want to ride. One adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the group enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding guests, and the waiting adult can go on the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again.
History and Design
Pixar Pal-A-Round was inspired by the famous Wonder Wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island, New York. The original Sun Wheel featured a smiling sun face at the center when it first opened. It was transformed in 2009 to Mickey’s Fun Wheel, with a large Mickey Mouse face. The latest retheme to Pixar Pal-A-Round in 2018 added the Pixar theming to the gondolas. The massive wheel has a diameter of 150 feet and weighs over 160,000 pounds.
The design allows for smooth, continuous rider loading and unloading as the wheel constantly rotates. The attraction was manufactured by Chance Rides of Wichita, Kansas, known for their expertise in Ferris wheel engineering and construction. The wheel sits on a pier extending out into Paradise Bay, providing sweeping views.
Pixar Pal-A-Round offers guests the choice between two types of ride experiences – swinging or stationary gondolas. The stationary gondolas provide a mild, Ferris wheel-style ride with great aerial views. The swinging gondolas sway and tilt outwards as the wheel rotates, providing an exciting thrill ride sensation. Each colorful gondola is themed with Pixar characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and The Incredibles.
The gondolas seat up to 6 riders, 3 on each side. Smooth jazz music plays as guests are lifted 150 feet above Pixar Pier, revealing spectacular panoramic views of Paradise Bay, Grizzly Peak, and beyond. The attraction operates continuously with load and unload taking place simultaneously. The full wheel rotation takes about 9 minutes from start to finish. Riders can see the World of Color fountains and viewing area from the top of the wheel at night.
Disability Access Services (DAS)
Pixar Pal-A-Round was designed to accommodate wheelchair users:
Wheelchair accessible gondolas are available upon request.
The queue and loading area are wheelchair accessible.
A member of the rider’s party may be asked to assist with loading.
Service animals are permitted.
There is no height requirement for the Pixar Pal-A-Round, making it a family-friendly attraction. However, children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.
Guests who experience motion sickness or have a fear of heights may want to choose the stationary gondolas for a milder ride experience. The swinging gondolas provide a smooth, tilting motion but may be too intense for some guests.
Average Wait Times
Pixar Pal-A-Round is a popular family ride, so wait times can get lengthy during peak park hours. Here are the average wait times throughout the day:
Early morning: 5-10 minutes
Late morning: 15-25 minutes
Early afternoon: 20-35 minutes
Late afternoon/evening: 15-30 minutes
Wait times are lowest during the first and last hours of park operation.
Some recommended times to ride Pixar Pal-A-Round include:
Early morning right after park opening
Evening for sunset and night views
Anytime wait times are 15 minutes or less
The Pixar Pal-A-Round is a delightful mix of classic amusement with a Pixar twist. Its central location makes it a landmark of Pixar Pier, and it offers riders both a moment of relaxation and, if they choose the swinging gondolas, a bit of thrilling fun. Whether you’re a seasoned Disney enthusiast or a first-time visitor, this attraction shouldn’t be missed.
Pixar Pal-A-Round Ride Review
The Final Word
With its family friendly appeal and no height restriction, Pixar Pal-A-Round is a Disneyland classic that makes for an enjoyable experience for guests of all ages. The scenic views of Pixar Pier and beyond make this a ride not to be missed on your Disneyland vacation.