Do you have a Disney Bucket List? Hardcore Disney fans do, including myself (I have a top 20!) and now I can actually check another one of those items off my list!
Here’s my top 10 (in no particular order!):
- Spend a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite
- Disney Cruise
Visit the Disney vault
- Visit the Pixar Animation Studio’s campus
- Visit every Disney park
- Play basketball on the Matterhorn basketball court.
- Go to D23
- Dine at Club 33
Walk a Disney red carpet movie premiere
- Earn a Disney Coast to Coast medal
Disclosure: Disney, Pixar, and Disney Junior have sponsored my travel, accommodations, most meals, and activities during this event. All opinions (and fun) in this article here are mine unless noted otherwise.
As you see I’ve been able to cross some pretty big ones off my list and now “Visit the Pixar Animation Studios” campus can be checked off! Hidden away in the Bay area of California, a town called Emeryville holds this special campus. Only employees are allowed passed the gates, but I can now proudly say that I went through those gates… two days in a row actually.
In November 2000, Pixar was able to use the proceeds from A Bug’s Life helped to build their campus. The land the campus sits on use to be the home to the old Oaks baseball field where the late Babe Ruth himself once played, once upon a time – how’s that for some rich history! When Pixar actually bought the property there was a Del Monte canning factory. Pixar leveled everything except 1 building and built from the ground up to the now gorgeous campus we see.
Steve Jobs put a ton of thought, insight and consideration into everything on the 22 acres. The design of “main” or The Steve Jobs Building (dedicated upon the passing of Mr. Jobs) is a two-story 220,000 square foot exposed steel frame structure with masonry brick veneer façade. It has a very industrial feel to it because Emeryville is very industrial. Steve Jobs thought it [the building] needed to have a workshop feel because everyone is creating ideas, movies, and films.
California is, of course, known for their earthquakes so they constructed the building to sit on over 250 High Damping Rubber Isolators so if there were ever an earthquake the building would just surf back and forth!
Steve Jobs’ vision continued inside the building. He wanted everyone to get out of their office to talk and see other people, to bounce ideas off one another and be happy while working. He felt that a lot of the reason why other businesses fail is because everyone gets cooped up in their offices, behind four walls and they don’t interact with anyone. In turn, they get bored or depressed or stressed out. So when you walk into the glass double doors into this vast open building you are greeted to a great room framed by steel beams and brick. On one side is the open dining hall and restaurant, and on the other side is more seating, kitchen, and mailroom. And the bathrooms! The bathrooms are here on the 1st floor too so you are literally forced to come out of your office and come out to the main space. You can find everything you need here in the core of Town Square on the 1st floor, that features a mail center, cafeteria, kitchen, and multiple seating areas to sit and talk about progress and upcoming projects! I think I saw more people working out here on their laptops than in their offices which was so cool to see.
There’s also no shortage of Pixar characters around. You’re bound to find your favorite at some point of the day. Who would you want to run into if you came to the campus?
Going outside, I fell in love with the outside almost as much as the inside of the building. When creating their campus, again, everything was purposeful, so all of the on-site activities are there so that you may see a director kicking a ball with a line cook. And you may never know where your next idea or inspiration comes from. Activities include: a soccer field (you can see one of the goals in the above picture on the left), basketball court, salt water heated Olympic size swimming pool, gym, hammock, and beach volleyball court!
Pixar knows that a happy employee will do better at work. Everyone is welcome to use everything, responsibly of course. Most people come early to work to work out or stay after they get off work (generally 9-6pm). Lunch time is a major time when you’ll find everyone playing on the courts or working out.
The Upper East side of The Steve Jobs Building is typically dedicated to showcasing the personal artwork and projects from around the office, even if it’s not Pixar work! During our visit, the halls were filled with The Good Dinosaur (coming out on Thanksgiving) artwork so no pictures with allowed but I can tell you about it.
We saw a complete tile version of each scene from the film. It was gorgeous to see how the animators tell the story with lighting alone. The landscape of the film was also taken into thought. Dinosaurs are huge so they knew they needed a backdrop that set that tone. Can you find Arlo on the mountains?
Gorgeous sculptures show details of the characters of the film. There was a great hallway with gallery development stills from the film so a lot of the photos we saw weren’t the final film product and may not have even made it to what we will see in November. For example, Spot started out very rough and scruffy and that’s not how he ended up in the film at all. Watch the *NEW* trailer below to see the film come to life and what Spot looks like now! Also, you’ll catch a small glimpse of my favorite scene with The Pet Collector (the dino with animals all over him)!
A very fun day indeed. I could write and write for days on the campus details for sure. In the next few weeks, I’ll share even MORE behind the scenes info on The Good Dinosaur leading up to its November release so stay tuned for that!