Ah, Pixar Pier. A phrase once filled with potential has become synonymous with “meh.” A lot of people have a lot of opinions about Pixar Pier and everything inside it. It’s a place of a million story arcs and worlds all wrapped up into one, which can feel disjointed and rattling at times – Disney-Pixar is a brand, not a story, after all. I think that Pixar Pier, though maybe not exactly what everyone dreamt it to be, is an interesting area to analyze.
Pixar Pier on a bright and sunny day! | © Christina Favela
One of the most immersive areas in Pixar Pier is Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff, because this shop, one little space carved out from the entirety of the pier, is focused on one story. Though this area isn’t all that helpful in terms of telling a complete story – in other words, it doesn’t have a specific beginning, middle, or end, like a ride or an attraction would – it works great for examining what goes into developing a character. Let’s look at the store through our storyteller lens.
Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff is a really good example of characterization in 3D. All of the details in the store connect to the character of Bing Bong from Inside Out. Bing Bong is a fluffy, pink, cat, elephant, dolphin, cotton candy man who was once protagonist Riley’s imaginary friend.
Any good character in a story has a strong want. In the movie, Bing Bong wants to continue his adventures with Riley even though she has cast him off to the wastelands of her mind. He wants only the best for her. He wants to come back into and stay relevant in her life. Bigger picture, Bing Bong wants children (and really people of all ages) to keep their wonder and imagination alive. He wants everyone to feel happy and carefree, just like when they were a little kid.
A look at the exterior of Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff | © Christina Favela
I think this store as a whole can essentially be viewed as an externalization of what Bing Bong wants. It’s the type of place that he would like to spend eternity – making kids happy with sweet treats and toys. A figure of Bing Bong is located in the back center of the store which allows him to “watch over” all of those who enter. He gets to see everyone live out their childhood dreams. The whole store is like Bing Bong’s own personal heaven.
Another important aspect of character is that each character has a strong gift. In the movie, Bing Bong has the power of imagination on his side, and it makes him both creative and whimsical. He cares about other people, and is even willing to sacrifice himself for someone he loves, which in turn makes us love him right back.
Bing Bong perches merrily on his rocket wagon! | © Christina Favela
The toys and stuffed animals in the store show Bing Bong’s playfulness.The fact that he sings his song, and the way the rainbow lights up behind him, all illustrate his whimsy. Another good representation of his imagination is all the delicious treats guests can buy. From taffy to cotton candy to caramel apples, the store really does offer every sweet treat you could dream up. They even have slushies of all colors called “Memory Refreshers,” and some of the other Pixar characters make appearances by way of Rice Krispies Treats and cake pops and marshmallow wands.
So, what do you think? Do you like Pixar Pier? Have you been to Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff? What’s your favorite treat? Let me know in the comments below!