Wishing For More: Why I Find The New Mickey’s Toontown So Disappointing

Recently, Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland reopened after being closed for a year as part of a radical renovation of the newest land (at the time) since Bear Country in the 70s. Originally designed to be “The Land That Toons Built,” guests were invited in the early 90s into the highly themed and immersive (before that was a theme park buzzword) land that looked straight out of a cartoon– or even the hugely popular at the time Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Feature film. When the gates reopened earlier this month, I have to say, I was surprisingly disappointed to a great degree.

I’m not here to discuss the history of the land (I’ve already done that here) but I will say that briefly, the entire land was created as a result of guests wanting to meet the classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, etc.) and in a time before the “I saw it in the movies” themed environments launched to great success by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas of the Universal Parks, Mickey’s Toontown set the bar for what an immersive land could be. Prior to its opening in 1993, Disneyland had themed lands but with more broad themes. Adventureland for exotic locales, Fantasyland for magical and familiar stories. Mickey’s Toontown (an offshoot of Fantasyland) would allow guests to enter a world that served as home to classic cartoons and under the guise of the aforementioned Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we now had a familiar setting for guests to enter, though it was still different.

Split into two sections, guests visiting Mickey’s Toontown would find Downtown Toontown and Mickey’s Neighborhood. Tragically, Mickey’s Toontown earned the moniker of being “the kids land” because of the attractions offered in Mickey’s Neighborhood, which were, quite frankly, dressed up playgrounds and a junior-sized coaster. The land was never meant or intended to be simply “the kids land.” It’s a more focused version of the idea that Disneyland as a whole is just for kids, or at best, families with small children. Are you a “Disney Adult” reading this that just got triggered? That’s how I feel when someone says Mickey’s Toontown is just for kids.

The Downtown Toontown area featured highly interactive features, with much of the faux city blocks being a trove of devices that can be pushed, pulled, and opened, triggering different cartoon effects from explosions (complete with smoke and fog) to electric zaps in the form of vibrating doors with synchronized strobe lights. All because you are in an animated world where things like this routinely exist without second thought. It’s even home to a true (at least) D-Ticket attraction with Roger Rabbit’s CarToon Spin, which occupies the Toontown Cab Co. garage and takes guests further into Toontown. It was a living land, full of kinetic energy and chaos like any classic cartoon would be full of. A wobbly “Jolly Trolley” traversed through slowly, a clock tower would signal the arrival of characters to meet and play with, you could walk the street and go up into character’s homes. It was a functioning city.

Now, in 2023, guests who walk into Mickey’s Toontown notice immediate differences even with the marquee to the land, which now features lettering with design features that call to the characters, already giving the land a look that calls for it to not be respected as highly as say Frontierland or New Orleans Square. Imagine a big sign saying New Orleans Square with a Tiana crown, and maybe the Hitchhiking Ghosts in the letters N, O, and S, with a Jack Sparrow hat on the Q. Already kind of cringeworthy, right?


Immediately as guests walk into the land, they’ll notice that one of the land’s signature water features, a fountain featuring Roger Rabbit, has been completely removed in favor of…a lawn. Just beyond it, the former barn that stored the Jolly Trolley is open once again (the attraction closed in the early 2000s)….as a place to check and park strollers. The former stroller area, which was also a quaint little corner near Goofy’s House has also been replaced with Centoonial Park – another lawn area with exposed “tree roots” and wishing tree. More on that in a bit. Further into Mickey’s Neighborhood, we find his musical fountain has also been removed, again, in favor of green space. Scenic water features, like the waterfalls behind Donald’s Boat that cascaded into Toon Lake, along with Toon Lake itself, have been filled in in favor of foam ground to create a splash pad at Donald’s boat. Chip and Dale’s Treehouse has been removed entirely, to be replaced by? Yeah, a lawn.

Conveniently, a new merchandise blitz sees the selling of picnic kits and blankets for all this green space but in the current Disney climate, one has to ask – which came first? The Chicken or the Egg? The Picnic Kits or The Green Space.


Sticking with Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Treehouse, yes. By the time it closed in 2022, it was literally a themed staircase and ramp and that's it. When it opened, it was a large slide into a big ball pit, er, acorn crawl. So it did need something, yes. My issue with this? It’s gone completely. Now, not the biggest of concerns, but every other character with a house that was formerly a playground function was replaced by some kind of new attraction or playground function that caters to those characters. They just basically evicted the chipmunks and moved them next door with Gadget, who’s roller coaster now belongs to Chip ‘N’ Dale, as their “Gadget Coaster.” A statue of Gadget has been added to the lift portion of the ride, and is arguably the best part of the renovated Toontown (not counting Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway since it opened two months before the land did).

The new Mickey’s Toontown also forgoes the entire backstory and lore that was given upon the 1993 opening and in press events leading up to it. According to that, Mickey’s Toontown has always been there. It was a land that toons built and it was Mickey himself who suggested the Anaheim orange grove nearby when Walt Disney himself was planning Disneyland. It wasn’t until the early 90’s that the toons decided to reveal themselves through a special gateway under the Disneyland Railroad tracks that Disneyland guests could finally visit this world that has always been there. So, not considering how underwhelming the Wishing Tree was when announced vs. its final reveal, it has zero purpose in the original story. When announced as Centoonial Park, Imagineers said the new tree was inspired by a tree Walt reportedly liked in his childhood home. There was no story given as to how it ended up here. If Toontown has always been here since long before Disneyland ever opened, why would the toons have a tree that Walt liked in their world? More focused, Goofy’s How-To-Playhouse is another star in terms of renovations, but one photo is so overwhelmingly pandering to fans that it is distracting from the other new additions, including fantastic kinetic sculptures. It features Goofy’s son Max, in his Powerline costume, alongside PJ in the Goof Troop era. That never happened. Powerline and the obsession with the musician only exist in A Goofy Movie.

The original 1993 attractions, Goofy’s Bounce House, Donald’s Boat, Chip ‘N’ Dale’s treehouse, all had seen numerous changes or closures as time progressed. Most, largely influenced by Disney’s stringent legal team. While the newer play areas also feature slides (all removed by Toontown’s 2022 closure) these are made of rollers, and one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before those are removed. The same can be said for those fake tree roots surrounding the centerpiece new tree. Adding to the green space that overpopulates the new land.

The whole point of Mickey’s Toontown was that you are entering the world of a cartoon. Cartoons, especially classic ones, are chaotic, frenetic, frenzied…someone get me a thesaurus, you get the idea. For lack of a better word, the world of a cartoon is meant to be overwhelming. Suddenly, Imagineers have forgotten that and have tried to make the cartoon world relaxing. The former Chip ‘N’ Dale treehouse is now a green corner that is a dedicated quiet zone. An amazing offering that should have been there the entire time, but now almost redundant as the interactive and impromptu chaotic toon effects are relegated only to the existing corner of Downtown Toontown.

Much of the whimsy of Mickey’s Toontown has also seen paring back. Take a look at the new EngineEAR Toys compared to the original Gag Warehouse. EngineEAR toys looks like a store more fit for Buena Vista Street at neighboring Disney California Adventure or Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A model train that circulates overhead is a real human toy train and is similar to one already found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Dinoland USA. There is nothing about the store that says “you’re in a world built by and for toons.” Area music for the land has also made the switch from jazzy and scatty versions of cartoon and character themes to slower bpm musak versions of songs from A Goofy Movie or the new Mickey Mouse shorts, more fitting for a waiting room than a theme park land.

Others will say I’m being too much of a stickler, times change and Disney needs to change with them. Imagine if you will, your precious Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Right now the land is filled with interactive effects triggered by your Magicband+ or phone, and has sporadic unannounced loud noises in the form of ships landing and taking off or droids suddenly coming to life and beeping and booping. Imagine in 10 years, they say “no. This world of Star Wars is too overwhelming. The flashing lights and fog effects of the Millenium Falcon are too much, let's replace it with this…patch of grass. And Oga’s will now feature a picture of The Mandalorian and Grogu alongside Lando, because fans. Press line: Now you can spend a romantic afternoon just like Padme and Anakin at the Falcon lawn. And dream the day away under this magnificent fir tree, inspired by one George Lucas likes to nap under at the Skywalker Ranch!” Somehow I think some people would be saying the exact same things as me.

Mickey’s Toontown is now even more like just “The Kids Land” of the park thanks to all these changes, and oddly, the park opened their newest E-Ticket attraction in the area adding quite the juxtaposition. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a true definition of what Walt wanted to do with Disneyland in the first place, giving parents and kids the chance to have fun together. Good luck on that roller slide, Dad. Time to visit Tokyo Disneyland, I guess.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.