Disney fans may remember that, as the story goes, Mickey’s Toontown actually predates the opening of Disneyland. The park may have opened in 1955, but it wasn’t until 1993 when the Toons decided to open their gates to Guests. Since then, generations of families have made memories in Toontown. After 30 years, it seems that the town’s residents have decided to undertake the biggest renewal project since opening their gates and they have partnered with their friends at Walt Disney Imagineering to complete the project. Like any modern urban planning project, these new enhancements ensure that even more Guests feel welcomed when they visit.
Of course, we are having some fun with the classic storyline of Toontown, but during a recent tour, Walt Disney Imagineering showcased that behind the refurbishment was a desire to make this happy place more welcoming to everyone. Many of the park’s youngest Guests benefit from a sensory respite at times and Toontown was always a place for play. The land was initially inspired by the wacky and zany world of the Maroon Cartoons, as seen in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but today’s youngest Guests are more familiar with the laid back world of Hot Dog Hills seen in shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures. That doesn’t mean Roger Rabbit has been evicted. Many of the classic elements of Toontown remain, including Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and the iconic homes of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. And while the name of Gadget’s Go Coaster has evolved into Chip 'n' Dale's Gadget Coaster, Gadget’s presence remains with a new figure that has been added to the lifthill to make first time coaster riders more comfortable.
Other areas have evolved to include green spaces, new interactive play areas, and increased accessibility. As Portfolio Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering Jeff Shaver-Moskowitz said, “Mickey’s Toontown first opened 30 years ago, so there are generations of Disneyland Resort Guests who have grown up with and made magical memories here. Walt Disney Imagineering set out to keep the essence of what makes Mickey’s Toontown special for so many, while evolving it for the coming generations of families who can’t wait to make new memories here.” Jeff has young kids and it was clear how that formed his perspective on not only the way kids play, but also how families could use a place to decompress. For example, while the land looks as vibrant as ever, the structures have subtly been repainted with less striking colors as a way to be more welcoming. Even Mickey Mouse feels more relaxed in his new meet and greet space. When meeting guests outside his house, he will have a new outfit far removed from his more formal attire that can be seen elsewhere (The Movie Barn meeting experience will be the same as before). And while Mickey and Minnie have been meeting fans in Toontown for over 30 years, fellow Toontown resident Pete will embrace his renewed fame from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse by appearing for the first time in any Disney theme park.
Young guests with different mobility abilities have also been thought of throughout Toontown. One example is the slide inside Goofy’s How-To-Play Yard, a roller slide which allows a wider variety of kids to participate. The fountain in CenTOONial park features a section designed specifically for children using a wheelchair. The former acorn pit has been transformed into an area specifically designed to be comfortable for those on the autism spectrum with reduced noise and shade.
While EngineEar Souvenirs soft-opened last week, when the land fully opens, there will be 21 new items including an impressive Runaway Railway train which will debut at Disneyland before being available at Walt Disney World at a later date. The train features 6 posable figures, 13 character sounds based on who is riding, as well as 6 locomotive sounds. Inspired by the attraction, the train is trackless so the various cars can wander and reunite with the locomotive. And some of the candy that can be found in the queue of Runaway Railway, which has quickly become a fan favorite, will be available for purchase including Power Limes and Scrooge McDuck Gold Coins. Fans can also expect other confectionary items to appear in the future, including Chip ‘n Dale Graham Crackers. Fans can also pick up items for a perfect picnic including an insulated picnic basket and family-sized picnic basket. Additionally, on March 22nd, a Triple Berry Compote Cheesecake Daisy Duck Munchling will be available at the park and on shopDisney.
Disney has already teased the food and beverage offerings of Toontown, a marked improvement over the limited offerings the land previously provided. In developing the menu, there was a conscious effort to ensure that it appealed to adults and children of all ages. There is even a toddler meal of mac ‘n cheese designed for guests under 3. The accessibility theme extends to the Perfect Picnic Basket, which was designed to fit all hand sizes. While it is hard to exit Runaway Railway and not crave popcorn, a “Yummy” popcorn bucket featuring the popcorn character featured in the El CapiTOON Theatre will be available by the coaster. There will also be souvenir slushie sipper orbs, with one featuring Mickey and Minnie as they appear on the town fountain and another featuring Donald diving into the orb visiting the fish and other sea creatures. A third will appear at a later date and will feature Goofy and Max fishing.
With two major attractions, character interactions, exciting new interactive merchandise, inventive food and beverage, and thoughtful areas to play and relax, Toontown is ready to return as a generational staple of the Disneyland experience. In CenTOONial park, at the heart of Toontown, is a dreaming tree inspired by Walt Disney’s Dreaming Tree in Marceline, Missouri. It’s clear that Walt Disney Imagineering was inspired by Walt’s vision of bringing big dreams to life. But, in addition to dreaming big, they approached the project with big hearts that kept in mind the youngest Guests and those with diverse needs. I can’t wait to see what the kids visiting Toontown today will dream up 30 years from now based on their fond memories of their first visit.