Walking along the sun-filled campus of Pixar Studios in Emeryville, California, you can’t help but feel the physical presence of creativity in the air.
It sounds cliche, I know, but after getting a private tour of the grounds, along with two dozen fantastic bloggers on a #Cars3Event, I now have a better understanding of why Pixar’s movies are so incredibly entertaining, adorable and full of pure imagination.
Pixar isn’t just another film studio cranking out movie after movie with the almighty dollar in mind. Uh uh.
It’s one gigantic brainstorming session mixed with the ultimate in team-building exercises. Pixar is an incredibly creative company because of one very simple idea: they foster creativity. They also highly encourage human interaction, something certainly lacking in today’s society where most of us spend the majority of our conversations online with people we probably never even met in person.
Definitely my favorite part of the #Cars3Event trip (and there were a lot of incredibly fun parts!), walking around Pixar Studios was nothing short of surreal. Curious what it’s really like at the seemingly calm grounds in the city just outside of Oakland and right across the bridge from San Francisco? Well, take everything you know about corporate culture, turn it completely upside down and then build a work environment that encourages people to actually enjoy showing up every single day.
Come on, I’ll take you along as we tour the Pixar Studios campus!
Welcome to Pixar! Right off a main street in Emeryville, the familiar Pixar font welcomes you with open arms. Or, open gates in this case. And for those of you who are worried (my readers really are the best!), yes, I did look both ways before crossing the street for this selfie.
The main road currently greets visitors with a nifty Cars 3 logo painted smack in the middle. This was our first sign that the fun we see in every Pixar film isn’t just for onscreen.
Here’s the first look at The Steve Jobs Building that faces the entryway.
To get to the main entrance of The Steve Jobs Building (and everything else on the Pixar Studios campus), we need to head down this path. I just love the wall of trees on both sides that help guide you in to the main areas. And what’s that I see off in the distance? Looks like us bloggers were about to have a ball touring Pixar Studios!
A ginormous grin covered each and every blogger’s face as that familiar yellow ball came into view. This one was a lot bigger than normal, and sadly really made of rubber.
And yes, you see another familiar Pixar icon in the background… the bouncing lamp! And no, this one didn’t bounce. But it does do something cool which I’ll tell you about later. (Ooooh, foreshadowing!)
Gah. It’s so huge it may crush me! Thankfully, this statue didn’t bounce around at all but just looked really darn cool. But this is just the beginning…
In the distance, you’ll see the Brooklyn Building. (And if you look closely on top, you’ll see a special guest observer too.) All of the buildings (except for the main Steve Jobs one ) and main areas are named after New York City boroughs.
Let’s continue our stroll down the main path, shall we? Oh, what’s that on the right side over there?
Oh, it’s just a beautiful outdoor heated swimming pool! Employees are
allowed encouraged to use the pool any time of day. As long as their work gets done and they hit their deadlines, the Pixar Animation Studios mentality is to encourage interaction and creativity.
Need a break from your desk? Head out to the pool for a few laps. You’ll get some exercise which is healthy for the body and possibly interact with some other Pixar employees from a completely different department too. It’s all about fostering communication and that always flourishing creativity.
Continuing that theme, you and a buddy can join up for some 1-on-1 or a larger pick-up game on a full-sized basketball court.
And yes, there are indoor areas to exercise too. Hit up any of the tons of machines or free weights in the full-size Fitness Center building. Yep, a healthy body definitely leads to a creative mind.
As we all entered the Brooklyn Building, we were joyously greeted by Bing Bong from Inside Out. Apologies for all the shadows but it was a super sunny day, and Pixar loves the open feeling of windows everywhere.
Here’s a quick look at the lobby area of the building to give you just a taste of what a Pixar Studios building looks like. Lots of open space. High ceilings. Convenient open walkways. And of course, loads of pictures and knickknacks in every nook and cranny.
Not so little but super impressively cool was this Finding Nemo display by one of the staircases. What I love about this (besides the adorableness of the tiny Dory and Marlin, and ginormous shark Bruce) is the attention to detail.
I mean seriously, only Pixar would think to add authentic bird poop to a display! I seriously love it!
Sure I love Toy Story, I’m a big toy geek! I also love comic books and original comic art, so this enormous “sketchy” poster of the Toy Story 20th Anniversary totally caught my eye. As did a certain camouflaging octopus (or is that a septopod now) named Hank.
As big as that Toy Story picture is, this ginormous portrait of Merida from Brave is either incredibly awesome or it’s covering one massive hole in the wall. (My money’s on the awesome.)
Well hey, look who I bumped into off one of the main corridors. Yep, it’s Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc. They were just screaming to have their picture taken with a famous daddy blogger, so I couldn’t refuse.
I also couldn’t resist taking a quick photo of the bathroom doors too. See, even describing Men’s and Women’s restrooms are creative. (For those uninitiated, that’s Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles.)
After we all finished oohing and ahhing at the coolness of the Brooklyn Building, we headed back outside and started our walk towards the Steve Jobs Building. As we passed the swimming pool and basketball courts (you didn’t forget about those, did you?), we walked through this bountiful herb garden. Yep, the kitchens inside the building use fresh herbs that they grow right here on the grounds.
Brings a whole new meaning to “stop and smell the roses,” doesn’t it?
We finally made it into the Steve Jobs Building and before I could count to four, I was recruited as a family member of The Incredibles! Clearly my superpower is to pose appropriately.
Over here at the front desk are a couple of familiar cheese-eating critters from the movie Ratatouille.
The Steve Jobs Building perfectly exemplifies the sheer openness of the building, as well as the open-attitude of the company. In the distance you can see a cafe on the left, screening rooms straight back, and a meeting room on the right, along with the gift shop and mail room.
A neat anecdote about this building? To help foster more human interaction, the main bathrooms in this building are right off the atrium here. And that’s it. This huge building only has its bathrooms here, because they want employees to get up from their desk and walk all the way down to the main lobby area where they’ll meet and interact with co-workers. You know, socialize.
A putting green? Geez, even the mail room is loads of fun at Pixar Studios!
The atrium also houses this super spiffy (and super crowded!) trophy case. It’s chock full of well-deserved Academy Awards that Pixar Animation Studios has taken home to roost! But it also houses some incredibly special items.
This extremely worn (and clearly loved) Woody doll was sent to Pixar from the Magic Kingdom Guest Relations. Apparently a little six-year-old boy named Caleb loved this toy so much that it became so beat up, his parents bought him a new one. But Caleb didn’t want to throw out his very first Woody toy, so he left it with the Magic Kingdom staff to give it a good home and let Woody spend “infinity and beyond with Buzz Lightyear.”
It’s probably no surprise that to most Pixar employees, this item is easily the most valuable one in the entire display case.
And no tour would be complete without a gift shop. And Pixar Studios does not disappoint! The friendly gift shop is chock full of exclusive T-shirts, hoodies, notebooks, prints, toys, collectibles, you name it, all based on your favorite Pixar characters from Cars 3 to Toy Story.
My favorite item in the gift shop? The bouncing yellow balls! I grabbed two of the smaller ones for my boys back home, mainly because I didn’t think the larger ones would fit in my suitcase!
And that pretty much ends our Pixar Animation Studios Tour! Oh, but one last super cool thing. As we left, the sun had set and to our surprise, the giant lamp outside turned on. Yep, it’s pretty much the largest working lamp I have ever seen. Even nightfall is super creative at Pixar. (Thanks to my blogging buddy Stella from Debt Free Spending for the great photo.)
Now you may not get a chance to walk around Pixar Studios, but what you can do is get super pumped for Cars 3! We saw about 40 minutes of the movie and it looks amazing. Cast your eyes on Lightning McQueen’s latest adventures with this Cars 3 trailer!
What was your favorite part of the Pixar Studios tour?