The Pixar Pal-A-Round (previously known as the Sun Wheel and Mickey’s Fun Wheel) is a 150-foot-tall (46-meter) eccentric wheel located at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California. The Sun Wheel, an attraction at Paradise Pier, first opened to the public on February 8, 2001. Pixar Pal-A-Round is inspired by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island, which also includes both sliding and fixed gondolas, and contains a big pie-eyed Mickey Mouse face in the center.
From 2001 to 2008, the façade of the attraction featured a sun face and a yellow color scheme. The attraction was rethemed as Mickey’s Fun Wheel in 2008, and it reopened on May 4, 2009. The sun was replaced with a Mickey Mouse face, and the gondolas were adorned with images of Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Minnie Mouse. Disney stated on November 2, 2017 that the attraction would be restored, with Pixar characters on the gondolas but Mickey’s visage staying on the side. The ride reopened as the Pixar Pal-A-Round on June 23, 2018.
The Sun Wheel (2001–08)
The Sun Wheel, which debuted on February 8, 2001, was one of the park’s first attractions on opening day. It was inspired by Coney Island’s 1920 Wonder Wheel, with a sun on the front side and a yellow color scheme. The purple and orange vehicles rode on inner tracks, which meant they slid inside and outside as the attraction rotated. The sun face was influenced by 1970s Mexican art. The Sun Wheel was renovated and re-themed as Mickey’s Fun Wheel in October 2008.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel (2009–18)
The ride experience hasn’t altered, but the sun has been replaced with a Mickey Mouse head and the color scheme has been changed from yellow to red. On May 4, 2009, the attraction reopened as Mickey’s Fun Wheel.
Lights were erected around the back of Mickey’s Head in 2013 for World of Color: Winter Dreams, as well as an LED lighting package on the California Screamin’ roller coaster. During an interview following the launch of Winter Dreams, creative executive Steve Davison confirmed that the additional lights added on Fun Wheel and California Screamin’ are permanent additions that will be used in future World of Color updates.
The ride malfunctioned on October 2, 2014, stranding riders for two hours before they were removed with no reported injuries.
Pixar Pal-A-Round (2018–present)
Disney stated on November 2, 2017 that Mickey’s Fun Wheel would be updated to incorporate Pixar characters on the gondolas, with Mickey’s visage staying on the side facing Paradise Bay. The attraction, along with other Paradise Pier products, closed on January 8, 2018, when the property was turned into Pixar Pier. On April 25, 2018, Disney announced that Mickey’s Fun Wheel would be renamed “Pixar Pal-A-Round” to reflect the new concept of the attraction. The color palette was updated to light blue once more, and the gondolas received new pictures of Pixar characters such as Joy and Sadness from Inside Out, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl from The Incredibles, and Miguel and Héctor from Coco. On June 23, 2018, the attraction officially launched.
Pixar Pal-A-Round was lighted up in blue and yellow for Super Bowl LIII, which featured the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots on February 3, 2019.
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